Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Day Off

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Day Off: My leg soreness has gotten a little worse and I'm feeling somewhat yucky on top of that, so I'm not attending class tomorrow. I'll miss my ...

Day Off

My leg soreness has gotten a little worse and I'm feeling somewhat yucky on top of that, so I'm not attending class tomorrow. I'll miss my statistics course, my anthropology course, and my philosophy course, but I've contacted all the professors,all of whom are sending outlines. One professor posts the actual lectures, so I can catch it that way.  I have at least three buddies in the other two classes with whom I've agreed to exchange notes; the odds of all three in both  classes being out are slim, anyway, and all say at this point they're planning on attending.  Reading lecture notes after the fact is not as good as sitting through the real thing, but for any one session it's fine to do it this way, and my note-taking buddies are all good and will not miss the main points of anything.

My dad thinks I have a virus. He wouldn't have any idea what that virus might be, but he thought it important to share that he's certain it's a virus.   All he's really qualified to tell me is that I do or do not have lymphoma or leukemia, and I could have told myself the correct answer to those questions.  Whatever.

Monday more people will be missing from class than will be tomorrow because of post-Super Bowl recovery issues. I won't have such issues because half a bottle of Guinness does not necessitate any special recovery procedures,so I will be available for all my note-taking buddies.

Sayonara.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Not Singing the Blues Over Today's Exam

We had a test in my American Regional Literature course today.  the professor asked us to write about something very closely related to a topic on which I helped a girl I tutored to  write an essay two years ago. He dragged out a somewhat obscure E. E. Cummings (capitals intended) poem, "Anyone lived in a Pretty How Town, "  a quote by B.B. King defining the blues as an expression of anger against humiliation and shame, and asked us to use both as context in discussing course literature read so far.

I despise the works of E. E. Cummings with an intensity most people reserve for child molesters and mass murderers.  While I admit that the strength of my feelings in this regard are somewhat irrational, but I do not think the  writings of Cummings had enough substance to merit humoring his disregard for English language conventions.  Fortunately for me, none of my teachers required me to study his works exhaustively. Also fortunate for me was that I did assist a girl with an essay focusing on the very poem my professor asked the class to use as context in discussing course literature, including Go Down, Moses by Faulkner.

The key line in the particular Cummings work in the context of "the blues" is "sang his didn't and danced his did." The professor hinted that there was a particular line key to the context, but didn't identify it. The use of the word sang -- the only remotely music-related word in the poem -- was a major hint, but I'm still glad I knew before I even began to re-read the poem.  I'm very glad I read this poem with the student I when was tutoring, as I barely needed to give any thought to answering the essay question before writing it.  The line  centers on the premise that celebration  is best embodied in the medium of dance (think of professional football players and the various end zone moves that have graced our TV screens), while lamentation is better expressed with music -- specifically the blues.  Most of the literature reviewed so far in the course has been southern with an emphasis on works about or by African-Americans.

Musically speaking, the blues is an interesting experiment.  While I have much respect for the blues as a musical genre and for musicians who perform it well, as a person of western European heritage thoroughly entrenched in the diatonic concept of music, it's difficult for me to get inside the idea of it being acceptable to have a melodic tone that may be a quarter-tone flat of its corresponding tone on  the scale on which a given composition has been based. Even the structure of a blues melody  based at times on a major scale sonically juxtaposed against standard blues harmony, based on flatted thirds, fifths, and sevenths, is thoroughly foreign to me.   Somehow it works, but don't ask me how.

It was nice to have been rewarded by God of Liberal Arts for having tutored the girl [without compensation] two years ago. As I left class, I heard others commiserating about that essay question in particular. (There were two other essay questions, , but they pertained more directly to elements of the course literature that were addressed in lectures and class discussions.)  If I had tutored someone in a subject vaguely related to the topic of kurtosis, I'd really be in luck.  I must agree with my friend Faery Chaos, who said that kurtosis sounds more like a sexually transmitted disease than a mathematical term.

Unimportant Stuff, Yet I Blog About It Anyway

My legs were useless during my gymnastics class today. I ended up spending most of my time on the uneven bars, as leg strength matters less on them than on any other apparatus.  I suppose that at the level I'm currently working (not very high) that leg weakness would not profoundly impact my ability to use the balance beam, either, but I don't like the balance beam -- never really did all that much, for that matter -- and I'm not above using a convenient excuse to avoid it.  It should have been one of my better events, as it is, in theory, anyway, an extension of one's floor routine, but restricted greatly in the surface area of the floor. It never seemed like doing a floor routine, though. It felt more like walking a very narrow plank.

I have tumbling on Thursday. Instead of avoiding any apparati, I will have to do a greatly dumbed-down version of anything I've practiced recently.  My leg strength is too greatly compromised to propel myself into the air for long. I don't like being so lazy and standing around so much, but in truth, I probably hog the mat more than my fair share of the time, and this will allow others greater opportunity to develop or refine skills.

I was reading between classes about a topic on which it does not behoove me to obsess, which is Nancy Grace.  Indications are that her disdain for the presumption of innocence in a court of law is not something she developed as a TV journalist, but was evident in her career as a prosecutor. I read citations in which she was criticized by the Georgia Supreme Court as well as by the  Eleventh District Circuit of Appeals, which accused her of  "playing fast and loose" with her ethical duties.  I showed them to my aunt, an attorney, who said that a lawyer who practices for any length of time will ultimately come under fire of higher courts, though maybe not with quite such harsh criticism as was levied at Ms. Grace.

Nancy Grace entered law school, she has mentioned numerous times, because of her fiance's murder. She recounted details of the crime and of the subsequent trial of the killer in her book Objection! The New York Observer noted numerous instances of inaccuracy in relation to details of the crime and the trial.  Ms. Grace defended the book as being  the result of having relied on her memory, but most of the discrepancies seemed to err on the side of sensationalism.  I would consider reading the book for myself except that : A) I don't want to buy it and add to her sales, and I'm not fond of public libraries;  B) it would probably make me angry, just as Nancy Grace herself does.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More School But No More Books

Now that the work is done, I just have to attend class and take lecture notes for future tests.  All of my teachers will accept assignments early this quarter, so I emailed electronic copies and will turn in hard copies this week.

I've been having annoying pains in my arms and legs. I have no clue as to what could be the cause and don't really care. I just want them to stop. (Guinness would probably make them stop, but I can only drink so much of the stuff because I don't actually like it.) I'm ignoring them for now. If they're still bothering me in a  more weeks, I'll ask someone about the situation.

Tomorrow I have four hours of class and zero hours of reading.  I hope the weather is nice enough for the beach to be enjoyable between classes. If not, I'll go to my dorm room and sleep. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Guinness is a Lager

According to Paul, who read a couple of my blogs and knows far more about such things than I do, Guinness is a lager. Lager actually sounds more substantial than ale and makes it sound more impressive that I'm drinking the stuff.

I don't drink Guinness every day, but once or twice a week I down half of a bottle of the stuff. The main benefit I've noticed is that it increases my appetite, and putting on enough weight so that I no longer look like an eastern European refugee or orphan has been an endeavor to which I've devoted much effort.

I first got my hands on a bottle of Guinness on March 17 of 2011.  My mom was hosting a Saint Patrick's Day gathering, and more or less everyone there had consumed enough of either Guinness or something even more potent that no one present was paying any particular attention to what I did or did not drink. (I think my brother drank four beers that night without being noticed.)  I had a track meet the next day and was curious as to whether or not a small amount of Guinness might improve the quality of my sleep enough to actually improve my performance in the track meet the following day. Whether due to the Guinness, the placebo effect, or sheer coincidence, the next day I broke a league record in 300-meter low hurdles. It was enough to sell me on the benefits of the beverage despite the taste being so unpleasant that I still have to plug my nose to get it down.

I descend from a long line of drinkers on both side. My mother is Irish Catholic, and the drinking prowess of Irish Catholics is common knowledge. My dad's parents are both French Canadian from Quebec (also originally Catholic)  and though they gave up drinking when they converted to Mormonism, my dad and his one brother and one  sister who no longer practice the LDS faith picked up drinking where their parents left off as though no one in their lineage  had ever discontinued the practice.

I attend a University of California campus. I'm now leaning toward medical school as my post-graduate field of study, but when I started college, I wasn't sure as to whether I would go into medicine or law. A counselor who helped me to design a course of study that would be suitable for both pre-med and pre-law did so with the idea of impressing admissions panels in schools in both fields of study, but gave very little thought to my sanity as I'm  trying to get through these classes with a 4.0 intact.


Oh My Gosh

My brother is home this weekend.  I shared with him some of the academic work I've done over the past eight days. He was perplexed by one of the papers -- the one about sexual inequality among pygmies in the Ituri Rainforest of Zaire.

"Anthropology is about real people, right?" he inquired. 

"Yeah," I answered, with the unspoken words, "and your point is . . ."  lingering in the air.

"So why do they let you write about mythical creatures for an anthropology class?" he continued.

"Huh?" I responded, not sure from where he was coming.

"Pygmies aren't real. They're just fairy-tale creatures . . . like Oompah Loompahs. Oompah Loompahs are basically pygmies."

"Matthew," I told him, not quite believing I was participating in the conversation, "Pygmies are real. They're tribes of people who live in rainforests and are less than fifty-nine inches in height. Roald Dahhl made up Oompah Lompahs, but pygmies are real."

"No way, " he countered.  "Mom,  Alexis just said . . . " I have no idea how he finished the sentence because he headed downstairs to question my mother about the lies he thought I was telling him about pygmies.

The bad news is that Matthew will be admitted to a more prestigious medical school than I'll get into because his grades are good and he interviews extremely well because he's so charming. In medical school interviews,  questions about general knowledge topics such as pygmies aren't typically asked, so he's safe.  In roughly six-and-one half years, Matthew may be interning in a hospital near you.

The good news is that he studies hard and learns what he is specifically taught or instructed to read. Just hope that someone either taught him about appendicitis or told him to read that chapter in a book before you walk with pain in your lower right quadrant into the hospital where he's completing his internship. 


This Work Is Killing Me, But I'm Almost Finished.

I finished a paper detailing sexual equality among pygmies in the Ituri Rainforest.  The same course also required a lengthy essay, the topic of which related to the respect of land rights in relation to eradication and assimilation of hunters and gatherers. Grading in this course is most heavily determined by essay exams. I'll need to be prepared to write essays on demand on a myriad of exhilarating topics.

I also wrote a and majorly snooze-worthy lengthy paper on the statistical inferences of skewness and kurtosis in interpretation of the valididty of studies.   Do you care about skewness and kurtosis? Have you ever seen the word kurtosis? Neither had I before about three weeks ago.  Imagine writing a 12-page paper on the topic.

I risked not endearing myself to my "American Regional Literature"  professor by rejecting her "Supremacy of the Literature of, by, and for People  from the Deep South" bias by focusing on New England and Robert Frost.  This, I understand, is practically suicidal, but one can only take on idiocy from a limited number of directions at a given time.  I will in the meantime reassure myself with the statistical probability (considering both skewness and kurtosis, of course)  that the professor herself probably never personally reads our research papers and will not have a clue as to what was my chosen topic when she assigns my final grade for the course.
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I've written a comparison/contrast of Moore's "Appeal to Common Sense"  versus  Lewis' "View of Epistemic Contextualism."  I've also addressed the degree to which  habit is stronger than reason in a 10-page annotated paper. I've read more than I ever wanted to read about the importance of scientists' re-testing the results of one another and how such (or the lack of such) has impacted the current knowledge base in science and medicine. Additionally, I started off this entire fiasco with the infamous "Essence of Stupidity" essay.

I've written counterpoints of every variety until I can't go to sleep without dreaming of them. Music Theory IV has been my least perplexing class, but trying to cram a full quarter of work into one week creates obsession where it otherwise would not occur.

My gymnastics classes are only .5 units each, so I don't have any actual fingers-to-keyboard assignments related to them as long as I don't miss more than two class periods. I wrote one of the make-up assignments that will be required if I miss class just so that it's completed if I need it.
If I don't need it, I'll sell it.    You didn't just read that here.

I'm finished. I'm going to drink part of a Guinness, which I've learned since I last consumed one is actually an ale.  (The classification is based on how the beer is brewed. Ales are top-fermented, while lagers are bottom-fermented.)  I will then sleep for probably thirty hours, after which I will resume attending classes, smug with the knowledge that the hard work for me has been done.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Jalexis Duggar

Watching a repeat episode of  19 and Counting recently caused me to wonder what my life might have been like had I been born into the  Duggar family.  I can't see how it would have had possibly ended well. I probably would have packed my bags and moved out with Jim Bobs's and Michelle's blessings  before I had reached the age of two.

I never would have completed and passed off on the blanket training method.  Michelle teaches her babies to stay within the boundaries of a blanket by hitting the  poor kids' legs with switches to let them know that bad things happen to people who stray beyond their boundaries.  

Blanket training is in a way a metaphor for everything that the Duggars teach their children.  Fear the unknown. Don't think for yourself.  Stay within your assigned boundaries.  God forbid that any one of those nineteen kids should ever be truly independent.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Benzodiazepenes

Prescription drug abuse is allegedly at an all-time high. Narcotics may be the most commonly abused of prescription drugs (I  don't know this to be a fact), but also among those commonly prescribed drugs that are commonly misused is a class of drugs known as benzodiazepenes.

I'm not a doctor. Even if I had a copy of the current Physician's Desk Reference at my fingertips, I'd be unable to list every possible condition for which benzodiazepenes are prescribed.   I do know that they are used for seizure conditions and for anxiety-related conditions.

I've taken a few of the drugs in the benzodiazepene classification on occasion. Sometimes I pluck my hair out unconsciously , and I've taken Ativan (generically  lorazepam) as to help control this condition, which is known in the medical and mental health fields as trichotillomania.  Additionally, I've been treated for PTSD following  a physical and sexual assault. I've taken Ativan occasionally for this, as well as Klonopin ( clonazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam).  Once I was given Valium (diazepam) right before a surgical procedure.  There are twenty or so others that are fairly commonly prescribed.

I would like to say that, while I understand that individuals react uniquely to drugs, and my physiological and psychological responses to these or any other drugs may not be typical, I don't really understand what about these substances would cause anyone to wish to take them for recreational purposes or what about the drugs would cause them to be psychologically addictive. These drugs, if given in sufficient quantity, will cause me to fall asleep.  (So will benadryl or Tylenol PM.) They have sort of an all-or-nothing effect on me. (Perhaps to others I appear stoned out of my mind after taking one of the aforementioned substances.) Either they knock me out or they have no effect at all that I can discern.  There are times, such as after a really bad flashback nightmare, when I've really wanted to go back to sleep, and in such instances, the sleep-inducing effects of whatever benzo drug I was given were most welcome. Other than that, they don't give me personally any sort of buzz.

While I'm not advocating their use for recreational purposes, I understand what it is about some narcotic painkillers that would cause people to take them for the good feelings that might be experienced after taking them. Where benzos are concerned, though, I don't really get it, as they do very little for me.


Good Night, Friend

Nancy Grace is providing extensive discussion of Jodi Arias' murder trial, presumably because it's a slow news month and there's not a whole lot else to discuss right now. I should not watch Ms. Grace's program because it's so thoroughly annoying to me, and I am, in turn, probably annoying others by continually complaining about her. I can't help it, though.

Ms. Grace is greatly bothered by a defense motion to drop charges against Ms. Arias. Some of the particulars of this defense motion are specific to this case, but my aunt who's an attorney says the motion in some form or another has been made in every criminal trial she's ever seen. The prosecution presents its case, then  the defense requests that all charges be dropped. That's the way it generally proceeds.   The defense is doing its job. Were the defense attorneys not providing an adequate defense, that by itself would be grounds for an appeal by Jodi Arias. ( In that regard, Nancy Grace should be happy that Jodi Arias' attorney is providing a competent defense for her client instead of foaming at the mouth over every single action undertaken in defense of a client.)   Almost as routinely as the motion is made, it's overruled. I'll hope the motion is thrown out in this case as routinely as it usually is, but even if it is upheld, the world as we know it will not cease to rotate on its axis and to revolve around the sun.

What little I've seen of Jodi Arias hasn't endeared me to her, and I would be less than happy if a mistrial were granted in her case, but Ms. Grace  doesn't acknowledge that anyone charged with a crime is entitled to a competent defense. I don't like it any more than most people do when someone who seems to the average bystander to be obviously guilty is acquitted through apparent jury nullification or walks on any other technicality. Still, our justice system is founded in part on the  presumption of innocence and the premise that it is preferable that ten guilty people will be acquitted before one innocent person is convicted.

The "ten guilty people acquitted rather than one innocent person convicted" premise is, in my opinion, a very reasonable balance. It isn't stated that it's better that ten thousand guilty people be incorrectly acquitted than one person  be unjustly convicted.  Jury instructions, when they give a numerical value, list the ten to one ratio.  Likewise, a jury is not asked to convict a person only if the evidence points past all reasonable doubt to a person's guilt, as opposed to all possible doubt.

In our system, guilty defendants are going to be allowed to walk away from their crimes on occasion. This may be due to prosecutorial weakness (they're human jut like the rest of us), jury irregularities of sorts, judicial rulings ranging from properly conservative in protecting the rights of the accused all the way to giving the appearance of handing the defendant an acquittal on a silver platter, or maybe even simply because the defendant got lucky. The rest of us do not like it when this happens, but reasonable people can accept that it will happen in a system where anyone is only one false accusation away from incarceration or worse.

Nancy Grace, though, is not a reasonable person and cannot comprehend the issues surrounding the presumption of innocence on which our judicial system is based.

I wonder where Nancy Grace is coming from when she talks about what resonated with the jury in the Jodi Arias trial.  How does she know what resonated with the jury?  Did she go to the site of their sequestration to interview them? Does she follow them into the jury room, where they aren't supposed to be discussing the trial yet, even if she were there?

What is a show based  current legal issues supposed to discuss on those days when there's not much news?

An especially precious touch is the "Good night, friend" that Nancy graces intones every night (I think; I don't actually watch the show all the way through very often) while mean-mugging the camera. When one of my friends says "good night" to me, the person doesn't typically give me the death glare while he or she is uttering the words, but perhaps my friends are abnormal.

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Half Mormon

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Half Mormon: My parents would argue that it makes no sense whatsoever to call oneself one-half of a religion based on having inherited it but not on hal...

Half Mormon

My parents would argue that it makes no sense whatsoever to call oneself one-half of a religion based on having inherited it but not on half-practicing it.  I argue that (A) they're wrong on so many levels it's tough for me to know where to start a rebuttal and (B) by the time I've been both blessed and necro-dunked, I can say I  have practiced it

I've discussed the circumstances surrounding my brother and I having been blessed before. My grandparents wanted my brother and me to be considered LDS children of record, so they had us blessed in an LDS chapel during Fast & Testimony Meeting when we were two years old without bothering to enlighten my parents as to what had been done.

The necro-dunking incident -- more properly known among true-believing Mormons as "Baptism for the Dead"  was more an act of confusion. I was staying with relatives in Utah. A necro-dunking trip had been planned for the local LDS ward's youth. My aunt was going to be gone for the day with her four children who were too young to participate in necro-dunking, while the other three children were going along for the temple trip, and she didn't trust me alone in her house all day. (I was twelve at the time.)  In order to be allowed to participate in the necro-dunking activity,  had to pass through two worthiness interview checkpoints.

The first checkpoint was with the local bishop, who was my uncle. He genuinely thought I had been baptized and was officially LDS.  The next worthiness interview checkpoint was with a member of the stake presidency; an LDS stake is the rough equivalent of a Catholic diocese. The stake president in the area happened to be  another uncle by marriage, who also was laboring under the false assumption that I had been baptized Mormon and was officially LDS, and therefore eligible for necro-dunking.

I told both of these men I had not been baptized, but both thought I was lying in order to avoid attending the necro-dunking activity, and both signed off on my level of worthiness to be baptized on behalf of someone who had died in the distant or not-so-distant past. With all the lying I was supposedly doing in order to get out of participating in this activity, one would have thought my worthiness would have  been seriously compromised. The last I heard, bearing false witness was one of The Big Ten No-Nos agreed upon by both Mormonism and Catholicism. (It's one of the relatively few distinctions upon which the two religions agree, and even here they cannot agree upon which number of commandment it is, which is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of all things Catholic, Mormon, or anywhere in between.)

Anyway, I was necro-dunked in the Manti Temple a huge number of times because I was such a light-weight that dunking me didn't tire out the priesthood holder who was doing the dunking.  I finally got the man's attention and told him I needed to catch me breath, so he let me go.

The whole issue regarding my bona fide Mormon-ness concerns whether or not I was baptized for myself.    We all agree now that it never happened.  I think, however, that by the time a Mormon priesthood holder dunked me somewhere between thirty and one-hundred times (even among those of us present for the particular necro-dunking session, we cannot agree on how many times I was actually dunked; my relatives say one person would never be dunked close to one-hundred times, even though they acknowledge that I was dunked substantially more than is usual; i say I lost count at sixty-eight and that it went on considerably past the point where i lost count) some of it had to have spilled over the temple's "to infinity and beyond" territory and into the here and now, and that it counts. I have the right to consider myself  however much Mormon that I choose to consider myself.

The interesting thing is what happened in the eyes of the LDS church to the souls of those dear departed dead people (I acknowledge the redundancy of my description) on whose behalf I was necro-dunked. Must someone else be necro-dunked on their behalf, or are they considered good to go?  I would write the LDS church headquarters in Salt Lake City to ask The Big Boys, but they no longer entertain letters with questions from the masses.  If you write them with a question now, they send you in return a form letter telling you to consult and rely upon the counsel of your local LDS leaders. I would consider doing that except that relying upon the counsel of local LDS leaders was what got me possibly  invalidly necro-dunked in the first place.

My brother, too, is in a somewhat unique state of half-Mormon-ness.  He holds the Aaronic Priesthood of the LDS church without ever having been baptized, which is, if anything, even less probable than having been baptized for the dead without having been baptized for the alive.  I think my family is  just a bit special where Mormonism is concerned in such a way  that we can skip steps of Mormonism just as some people skip grades in school. We skipped a grade in school as well; it seems we're special in more ways than one.

I may be half Mormon, but I'm not yet half-finished with my work for the quarter, so I much returned to the grindstone from whence I sprung.



Sam Walton and My Dad

My dad despises Sam Walton. Some would say he despised Sam Walton since Sam Walton has been dead for  a few years, but my dad's utter abhorrence for some of Sam Walton's  business practices (in particular, underpaying employees and driving out small businesses)  is immortal.   I know other people who aren't crazy about such things, and even a few people who boycott Walmart, but I don't think anyone feels as strongly about it as my dad does. He has multiple T-shirts, which he actually wears in public,  with anti-Walmart sentiments. Once we went to dinner at my grandparents' house, and when my dad found out that they had purchased most of the food they served us at a Walmart (they probably did it on purpose; they know how much my dad hates Walmart; everyone who knows my dad knows how much he hates Walmart), he wouldn't eat  the meal.  I shudder  to think of what might have happened if they had told him they bought their toilet paper at WalMart.

Several years ago my mom, my  brother, and I were driving with my mom's sister totally in the sticks in  Oklahoma for some reason that I can't quite recall when we came to a sign that said, "Birthplace of Sam Walton."  We stopped, and my aunt took a picture of my mom, my brother, and me posed right in front of the infamous Sam Walton  sign. My aunt had the picture made into Christmas cards and sent them to my dad as a favor. He threw them en masse into our fireplace.

I've never been inside a Walmart.  If someone took a picture of me when I went inside a Walmart and showed it to my dad, I would probably be disinherited, not that my parents own anything  anyone would want to inherit.

I don't have a copy of the actual picture with my mom, my brother, and myself in front of the sign. No one  bothered to keep a copy. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Little Sympathy for Serena Williams

I'm not a major fan of Serena Williams. For that matter, I'm not a fan at all.  Incidents in which she has threatened and/or harassed officials have  not painted her in a very positive light.  Neither did her behavior in her loss to Sloane Stephens.  Sometimes Serena's actions more closely resemble those of a common thug than those of a world-class athlete.

Serena's ankle injury was on the record before her loss to Stephens. If she were going to feign an injury, she presumably would have gone with the previously-incurred ankle problem, so her injury was presumably legitimate. Seriously, though, does Serena ever lose a match in which she doesn't take an injury timeout? Furthermore, her back didn't appear to be hurting all that much as she pounded her racket against any available surface.

Serena's failure to give credit where it's due  by explaining away losses with saying in effect that no one else can beat her, but that only she can defeat herself,  reeks of nonexistent  sportsmanship in an era where poor sportsmanship is the norm.  Even if it's true in some cases, it's a tacky thing to say.  

I said I'm not going to waste time calculating my percentages of assignment completion, and I'm sticking to my resolution, but today has been a productive day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Woman Who Makes Judge Judy's Voice Seem Easy on the Ears

In a recent post, I described Judge Judy as strident and shrill.  Maybe she is. Maybe she isn't. It was just an opinion.  By comparison, however, her voice is positively sonorous compared to that of Nancy Grace.

I understand that Ms. Grace has a job to do, and that, whether self-appointed to do so or whether it was the job for which she was actually hired,  she represents to voice of  the "guilty until proven innocent" contingent of our society.  I also understand that the presumption of innocence is required  in a court of law but that everywhere else, everyone is free to form their own opinions as to a person's innocence or guilt as long as such opinions are not stated in a libelous way.

I'm most put off by Ms. Grace's sense of self-importance and her vitriolic personality. Do you suppose she moderates her personality and state of mind when she's in a romantic mood, or even then does she spew venom about anyone and everyone who has ever been accused of a crime? Perhaps it was what attracted her husband to her in the first place. Then again, she has her twins. Maybe no further romance is desired. Don't imagine; it will only make you ill.

This is a slightly stupid thing about which to be annoyed, but has Ms. Grace noticed that only she refers to Casey Anthony as "Tot Mom"? What was so clever about that nickname, anyway? And why did Casey Anthony even need or deserve  a nickname?

By my calculations, I am 13% of the way through my workload for the quarter, though it is stupid of me to waste valuable time trying to determine precisely how far through my workload I am at a given moment. From now on, I'll just do the work, and I'll let  everyone know when I'm finished.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Judge Shows: Judge Alex Kicks A$$

In addition to sitting around in my pajamas watching the inauguration, I watched several of the courtroom TV programs today. It's probably about time for my quasi-annual review of courtroom TV dramas.

The one with Cristina Perez - I can't even remember what the current incarnation is called; she had a show called "Cristina's Courtroom," but I believe it was canceled. Then someone remade a program for her, or somehow she showed up on TV again. She as a person is likable, but I don't find her terribly credible as a judge. It seems as though she may have been an attorney but not an actual judge in real life.

I also caught  one episode of Judge Greg Mathis. He, too, is likable but not terribly believable as a judge.  I don't know if he is a bona fide rags-to-riches story or if he merely plays one on TV, but he seems to try to approach the litigants on their own level which, in my uneducated opinion, is probably a mistake.

Judge Joe Brown is sandwiched between a couple of other shows I watch, so I occasionally get an episode or two of his show whether I want to or not if I'm too lazy to locate the remote control and turn the TV off between programs. I'm not crazy about either Ms. Sonja, his bailiff, or his announcer, whose name I've never bothered to remember, nor, for that matter,  most of his litigants. To be fair, the litigants on most of the shows seem sanity- and reality-challenged, but Judge Joe Brown's litigants seem to be from a slightly slimier cesspool than are the litigants on the other courtroom TV dramas.  I also wonder why the litigants address him as  "Judge Joe Brown" rather than as "Your Honor," "Judge Brown, " or even "Yo, Dude."  Are litigants given a fifty dollar bonus or  extra points toward a verdict in their favor each time they utter the words "Judge Joe Brown"? It certainly seems like it.

"Divorce Court" with Judge Lynn Toler  seems somewhat misnamed. She's more like a marriage counselor than a divorce court or family court judge.  I'm far from an expert on the subject, but once a marriage reaches the stage of going to court to dissolve it, isn't it usually beyond the point of the judge or mediator or anyone else talking the parties through their troubles and encouraging them to work things out? She seems like a nice enough lady; it's just the show's premise that's a bit far-fetched.

Judge Marilyn Milian is the reigning judge on The People's Court. She seems to be a genuinely nice person who can be temperamental and is capable of totally going off on a litigant if she is not accorded her due respect or if anyone irritates her or if she's having an especially annoying day. She seems to usually render verdicts based actual law as it may have been written somewhere, as opposed to totally pulling her rulings out of thin air, though sometimes the rulings also seem to be based on Cuban'Spanish folk sayings rather than on actual case law.  My dad says she is a beautiful woman who has mastered the art of aging gracefully.

Judge Judy is the big fish in the medium-sized pond of court TV programs, and she conducts herself in her courtroom as though she knows this to be the case.  I believe she owns the company that produces her shows. When the litigants begin to belabor a point or linger on a topic for too long, she reminds them of the costs of film, lighting, her time, etc.  She doesn't appear to adhere to any jurisdiction's laws; she seems to make up her own laws as she goes.  It's been suggested that she has a bit of a God complex. She appears to be extremely intelligent; I suspect she also has a sixth sense in terms of discerning whether or not a witness is being truthful. Sometimes perhaps more has been testified to in the courtroom than the viewer sees, which makes her verdicts sometimes appear to be rather arbitrary when solid evidence may have been left on the cutting room floor.  I don't know this for a fact, though. Maybe nothing is left on the cutting room floor, and her verdicts really are as arbitrary as they seem.  I've heard that she's a gracious and very refined lady who plays a role most convincingly on her TV program. She is entertaining, but doesn't come across as terribly kind, and she frequently treats litigants as though they are wasting her time. I could be wrong, but I don't think most of the litigants approached her, begging to have their cases heard on her show. Still, she's entertaining if strident and shrill.

Judge Alex hosts the gold standard of courtroom TV programs.  He has at his disposal a crackerjack staff of legal researchers who study case law as it pertains to the local jurisdiction of each case that appears in his courtroom. The disadvantage to this approach is that the law, especially if it was written somewhere like  Mississippi or Arkansas, may  be without any basis in fairness, logic, or anything else that makes sense to the average human with an IQ above 65. If it's on Judge Alex's show, you're stuck with the screwed-up law. He will apologize for it as he squints while reading it aloud, but his anal-retentiveness that reminds me of the same quality I often observed in my own father in my childhood will not allow him to venture beyond the law as written by a moron in a backwoods locale. He's handsome by almost any standard, profoundly likable, and in possession of a wit as quick as that of Judge Judy. The difference is in how the two judges use their respective humor. Judge Judy almost exclusively gets her laughs at the expense of her litigants, while Judge Alex is much more self-deprecating in his humor, and is as likely, in making a joke, to take a shot at himself as at a hapless litigant.  If his ratings are not higher than those of any other TV courtroom show, it doesn't speak well for the American viewing public.




My Classes This Quarter

Today is sort of my last hurrah -- my educational Mardi Gras except that it's Monday today --or my final indulgence before I force myself to embark on what will probably be roughly twelve days  of very intense reading, writing, and whatever else (except sleeping with professors; I don't do that) is needed so that all I must do for the remainder of the quarter is to take up a seat  in class and to take tests.  Thus I've been bloviating all over the Internet in a major way today, showing up in all my usual haunts and generally being fairly obnoxious. It's been great. I wish every day could be more like today.

Tomorrow I begin The Big Push.  I will write papers, compose counterpoints for my final semester of music theory, make a few charts, outline oral  presentations, read and in some cass memorize texts and other assigned materials, and live the life of a crazy person.  It's just for twelve days, or even less if I can manage to work faster than I usually do.

The classes I'm taking this quarter are (My mom told me leave the numbers out to avoid identifying my university campus, as I share a little more freely than I should in a blog that isn't anonymous. Now that I'm eighteen and can freely choose whether or not to follow my parents' advice, I usually follow it.) Anthropology ***: Hunters and Gatherers, Philosophy ***: Theory of Knowledge: Music **: Music  Theory IV,  Exercise Science **:Beginning Gymnastics, Exercise **:Beginning Tumbling, English **: American Regional Literature, Probability and Statistics ***: Risk Theory. These courses combine for a total of twenty-two quarter units, which is a slightly lighter course load than I've taken most quarters. Neither are these the toughest classes I've ever faced, though Risk Theory is one of the more complex classes of my educational career, and all of them except for the P.E. classes (since when did "physical education"  become "exercise science"? Exactly whom do the guys with long white beards think they're fooling with that particular euphemism?) carry with them at least an average amount of mindless paperwork.

The textbooks and related literature for my Anthropology course, Hunters and Gatherers, alone cost over three hundred dollars. Paying for them is the least of my concerns. I'd gladly pay twice that amount if I didn't have to read them. Actually that's not entirely true. I do find the material rather fascinating. The approach is global, and the reading materials range from a history on Australian aborigines to records of various South American civilizations to some Marx writings, and this is only a partial list.

I just finished my first essay, the infamous "What is the Essence of Stupidity?" paper for my philosophy course.  I suspect the professor's intent with such a lengthy assignment so early in the chronology of a course was to expose us, the students, to just how very stupid we are. If so, he needn't have bothered. I'm already very well-acquainted with my own ignorance.

I'm not totally sure why I'm taking Risk Theory. I had a perfect score on my Advanced Placement Probability and Statistics Exam, and I took Advanced Probability and Statistics last year. Most of the people in the class with me plan to transfer to out-of-state universities where actuary majors exist. The class fits perfectly into an actuary program. I can only assume the counselor who set up my program must have thought it would be an asset to someone seeking admission to law or medical school. it might actually be useful to an attorney, although I don't think it's typically offered in law school. In terms of medicine, it merely pads one's application for admission. It's an interesting if challenging course.

American Regional Literature is a bit of a snoozer course.  If a given work of literature didn't make into into the syllabus of a general American literature course, chances are good that it's probably not worth studying in any great depth. Just because it hails from a given region (read: The South) does not make the study of it inherently any more worthwhile. I'll survive, but not without protest.

The Music Theory IV class isn't challenging. The professors of the respective theory courses need to coordinate their efforts more carefully. Theory III probably finished at a more advanced level than this particular section of Theory IV will conclude. .I'm taking it only because I must complete a minimum number of units on campus in order to be awarded a B. A. in music.  I'm only completing the bachelor's degree in music to increase my chances of  acceptance into medical school.   It's a circuitous route  aimed toward a very specific goal. If it doesn't work, I'll be a little disgusted at all the time I've wasted, but my mother says it will make me a very well-rounded professional in whatever field I eventually find myself. Both my parents have bachelor's degrees in music in addition to their other undergraduate degrees.

The gymnastics and tumbling professor has noticed that I have skills. I wondered if he would notice.  At least there's not an intercollegiate gymnastics team, so no one is nagging me to join it.  The professor said he was surprised at my skill level because I don't look like a gymnast.  Female gymnasts have a typically compact, comparatively muscular build. I'm on the tall end of the right height (5'2")  but skinny and long-limbed and with a bird-like neck. Gymnasts (except for Gabby Douglas and me, not that I'm otherwise in any way placing myself in her league) have thick necks.  The instructor asked about my background, so I gave him my history, starting with the Mommy and Me classes my brother and I took as one-year-olds, and ending abruptly with my back walkover and cartwheel on the roof of our house.  He told me to just show up for class and not to do anything dangerous. It's just a credit / no credit class, anyway.

Starting tomorrow I won't be around a great deal, although I may check in from time to time just for the sake of my sanity and because I'm addicted to the Internet.

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Guinness and the Essence of Stupidity

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Guinness and the Essence of Stupidity: The writing assignment I tackled last night was a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated.  I probably could not have completed it i...

Guinness and the Essence of Stupidity

The writing assignment I tackled last night was a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated.  I probably could not have completed it in one session were it not for the assistance and support of my good friend Mr. Guinness.  At about 2:15 a.m., I ventured downstairs, opened the bar  refrigerator, and helped myself to a bottle of the vile-tasting ale or beer or lager or whatever it technically is in the lexicon of libations.

Just as I was preparing to remove the cap from the bottle, my dad appeared.  "What in the hell are you doing?" he demanded.

I assumed the question was rhetorical. If I've learned anything the hard way in my first eighteen years of life, it is that rhetorical questions are best left unanswered.

The question was apparently not intended to be rhetorical. My dad pressed the issue further. "You were about to open a Guinness, Alexis. When I was in college, I at least did my drinking at college
-- not at home."  He  need not have added that the only way he could have consumed any alcohol at home was to bring it there himself, as his tee-totaler Mormon parents didn't even have cooking sherry on hand. For that matter, I wouldn't be surprised to find out my grandparents have non-alcoholic mouthwash and vanilla extract in their home.  Even their alcohol probably has no alcohol in it.

On rare occasions, sometimes even where parents are concerned, the truth is  much  more effective than the most carefully crafted lie could ever be.  "I have to write a paper, " I told him. "The assigned topic is 'Answer the following question:  "What is the essence of stupidity?" ' "

He whistled softly. "I'm impressed if you can write this one with just alcohol," he responded.  "I'd probably need magic mushrooms to even come close." He took the bottle from me, removed the cap, and took a glass from the cabinet above the mini-fridge. "Half a bottle," he said to me as he opened the Guinness, pouring the remaining half into the glass, and handing the bottle to me. He took a drink from the glass. "Why don't you get your laptop and write it down here?  Maybe two heads are stupider than one."

I went upstairs, retrieved my laptop, and made myself comfortable on the sofa, my Guinness within reach on the end table.  He asked me what I had come up with so far. "Nothing," I answered. I had no serious intention of writing on the "university students are the essence of stupidity" angle.

"I may have underestimated this. You'll probably need a full Guinness." He downed the remainder of the contents of his glass in a single swallow, then waited while I plugged my nose and attempted to do the same with what was in my bottle. It took seven swallows for me. "You're not much of an alcoholic, are you?" he asked. I nodded between swallows. I couldn't tell  whether he was more relieved or  unimpressed.  He opened another Guinness and divided it, this time leaving slightly less than half in the bottle for me.

"Here's what I'm thinking," I told him. I briefly shared with him what I thought the professor might be interested in hearing, which is that stupidity in its purest form is a byproduct of societal expression, manifesting itself in the form of pop culture.

"Not bad, "  he mused, "but can you  come up with nine hundred words on that?"

I thought for a moment. "Yes, "I told him, and here's how. . ."   The key, I told him, would be bullshit in both literal and figurative senses. For two years our family lived on the property of a large dairy in the San Joaquin Valley; I've had greater than average exposure to bovine excrement.  i could kill almost half the paper in a discussion of animal feces:  its forms, its uses, its quality in the sense that what goes in most definitely affects what comes out.

Then, after my lengthy dissertation on the properties of cow dung, I would transition to the properties of societal expression, and how what comes out in the from of pop culture is essentially metaphorical excrement.

"Make sure to include some of those Kardashians in your characterization of the bullshit of society," my dad added.  I nodded as I typed. Fifty-seven minutes (and roughly ten sips of Guinness) later, the typing was complete.

I began to read the draft aloud to my dad, but he took the laptop from me, explaining,  "I'm visual."
I waited as he read, and I watched with curiosity as he hit the mouse pad.  "You use too many commas, " he said in response to my puzzled expression.

"Whatever," I mumbled.  I'll  re-insert the commas later if I decide I care. I quickly typed a title page, and added a post-script note about my agricultural expertise having come from years of living in close proximity to cows so I would not be penalized for not having cited any sources in my somewhat technical discourse on the technical aspects of bovine excrement.  I printed the document and breathed a rather large sigh of relief.

This is not one of the prouder moments of my academic career, but I'm incredibly happy that this #*$@(  assignment is finished.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, and enjoy the inauguration. I will.




The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Stupidity, and the Course Within the Course

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Stupidity, and the Course Within the Course: I'm now gearing up for The Big Push*, which is the time early in each academic period  (funny, but I cannot bring myself to use that word i...

Stupidity, and the Course Within the Course

I'm now gearing up for The Big Push*, which is the time early in each academic period (funny, but I cannot bring myself to use that word in any sense anymore) interval when I practically kill myself in getting all my readings and assignments completed so that I can coast for the remainder of the academic interval, which is a quarter in this particular case.  Tomorrow's a holiday in honor of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.,  so I cannot conscientiously begin The Big Push just yet. I do have one paper that is due in just fourteen days, though, so I must at least complete that one paper,  as it is against my principles  to finish any assignment less than twelve days before it is due.

I haven't talked about the courses I'm taking, and now isn't a great time for me to digress in that direction, but I will tell you that I've got some real doozies this quarter. Soon I will discuss them. For now, I'll briefly describe the composition I will begin writing in roughly ten minutes.

In my Philosophy 1008 course -- Theory of Knowledge  --  i have been given the assignment of  answering the question, "What is the essence of stupidity?" in an essay ranging from nine hundred to one thousand words. Outside sources may be used as long as citations are used and  credit is given.

The only issue I have with this assignment is the assignment within the assignment. There is a course within every course, and an assignment within every assignment.  The course within the course is what the professor really wants to hear. A successful student discovers that pearl of wisdom that the professor wants to hear, and tells it to him or her at each available opportunity.  The assignment within the assignment  is the micro-version of the course within the course. There is a particular nugget from the course within the course that the professor especially wants to be told in this particular assignment.  Find it. Tell it to him or her. Over and over in different words-- in different languages if necessary.  Forget all about being true to yourself. That can wait until later in life. For now, you need those little pieces of paper called "diplomas," "degrees,"  and "transcripts" that will allow you to do what you desire to do in life.  Tell the professor whatever it is he or she wants to hear. Ace the course. It's that simple.

The problem is that I don't know this professor all that well yet. I had to miss last Monday's class because of the threatening text message I received, thereby depriving myself of one valuable opportunity to delve beneath the surface to determine precisely what it is that powers this particular professor's mitochondria. I may be in the position of having to guess as to what the professor truly wishes to hear from his students about stupidity and its very essence. Worse still in some ways, I may  discover on the final class session before the essay is due just what it is the professor desires to hear from his students. This would require me to rewrite the essay a mere two days before its due date, which so thoroughly violates my OCD nature that I would probably break out in hives or develop a facial tic even as I typed the essay.  C'est la vie. Life is inherently troubling.

For the moment, I'm going with the idea that students, namely university students, are the true essence of stupidity. Every professor I've ever met has believed that, so why would this professor believe differently?  Seriously, inspiration will hit me once I start typing the paper. I'm fairly certain the result will be profound.  Not really.





*I'm borrowing the term "The Big Push" from the late Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the 60's Green Bay Packers. At numerous times during any given football season, Coach Lombardi would announce to his team, who already believed they were working beyond the breaking point, that on the following Tuesday they would begin "The Big Push."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Note to Becca and To Others Who May Possess the Ab...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Note to Becca and To Others Who May Possess the Ab...: The arrival I though might be forthcoming in a month or so didn't wait. I don't wish to be crude, so I will not be more specific except to ...

Note to Becca and To Others Who May Possess the Ability to Read Between Lines

The arrival I though might be forthcoming in a month or so didn't wait. I don't wish to be crude, so I will not be more specific except to say that I will accept the sympathy or whatever from anyone who cares to offer it.

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Notable People, for Both Positive and Negative Rea...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Notable People, for Both Positive and Negative Rea...: I'll leave it to the reader to decided whether these people should be categorized as famous, infamous, or neither. 1.  Jessica Beagley, S...

Notable People, for Both Positive and Negative Reasons

I'll leave it to the reader to decided whether these people should be categorized as famous, infamous, or neither.

1.  Jessica Beagley, Stake Primary president who pioneered the use of  hot sauce as a disciplinary tool

2.  Casey Anthony

3.  The guy who made bird calls during the trophy ceremony at the Master's

4.  Katie Holmes

5.  Manti Te'o , of recent fame either for having been duped or for having promoted faux in furtherance of his Heisman Award aspirations

6.  Jodi Arias, currently standing trial for a bizarre and heinous fatal attack on a former lover

7. Nancy Grace

8.  Stacy Johnson Klein, former NCAA women's basketball coach, listed for sheer entertainment value even though she hasn't done much recently; google for more info

9.  Megyn Kelly

10. Karl Rove

11. Todd Akin

12. JimBob Duggar

13. June Shannon, aka mother of Honey Boo Boo

14. Taylor Swift

15. Pat Boone

16. Pete Carrolll

17. Steve Carrell

18. Stephen Colbert

19. Jon Stewart

20. Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings; punter who boldly takes controversial stands

21. Pat Robertson

22. Newt Gingrich

23. Scott Walker, Governor of Minnesota

24. Bruce Jenner

25. George Clooney

26.  Mitt Romney

27.  Mark Zuckerberg

28.  Glenn Beck

29.  Colin Powell

30. Mr. Potato Head

31. Jim Harbaugh

32. Vassilus Kikilias

33. Kim Jong Un


The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Watching Dog and the Rest of the Bounty Hunters an...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Watching Dog and the Rest of the Bounty Hunters an...: Depending upon which weather service one chooses to believe, where I am right now it is either sunny and 65 degrees or cloudy and 49 degree...

Watching Dog and the Rest of the Bounty Hunters and Once Again Wishing I Was Baby Lissa, and Other Related and Unrelated Matters

Depending upon which weather service one chooses to believe, where I am right now it is either sunny and 65 degrees or cloudy and 49 degrees, or somewhere between the two extremes.  Because the view outside my window does not include any hint of the sun other than the indication that it must have come up, as I can read the "49" on digital thermometer hanging downstairs on the patio  without the use of a flashlight, and my room is very cool, I choose to place my faith in  the  report indicating it is cloudy and 49 degrees outside.  I have my blinds and curtains open, but not my windows.  I like it cool, but not freaking 49, plus I don't think the excess moisture from the fog  is all that beneficial to my musical instruments. I'm between pink-with-black-polka-dots sheets, bundled in a fleecy pink and black blanket throw, and under my black-with-pink polka dots comforter.  I'm downright cozy.

Forty-nine degrees seems pretty far from Arctic to most of you, but I'm feeling just a bit chilled even at this temperature that some would consider balmy.  I suppose I could close my window coverings, but the foggy view of my backyard appears mildly picturesque through my window, almost as though it's a painting Van Gogh threw together quickly on what was not one of his better days. It's not "Starry Night,"  but still it's a Van Gogh (figuratively speaking), so I'll incorporate the view into today's decor.

After all the talk of the view from my window, I'm not actually looking in the direction of my window. Instead, I'm watching TV. "Dog, the Bounty Hunter" is on.  I know the series was discontinued at some point. I don't know if it was picked up again and more episodes were made, or if i'm watching one of the dinosaur episodes.  In this episode, the Chapmans are attempting to apprehend a very large Samoan woman (probably a redundancy) who has, like everyone the Chapmans pursue, gone on the lam and has failed to show for a court appearance.  The Chapmans will catch her. They always do. They're more consistent at apprehending the bail-bustrs than was Dr. House at curing patients with almost-never-before-seen ailments, and he was a fictional character. Perhaps therein lies the key and the similarity: perhaps the Chapmans are all fictional characters, too.   Nevertheless, I want to be Baby Lissa.  I can truly see myself in Daisy Dukes and a bullet-proof vest, speaking in double negatives while carrying  a child or two in one hand and a loaded firearm in the other.  It's my alter ego. It was meant to be.

This weather brings out contemplative feelings in me.  I'm not one for bucket lists, resolutions, or much anything of that nature, but I'll probably  come up in the next few hours with a list of short- and long-term objectives. I'll share if it's sufficiently mildly rated, as in no more extreme than PG-13, yet also not so terribly boring so as to induce sleep in its readers.

Sayonara por oy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Gymnastics

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Gymnastics: I've experienced, and will experience again, the ultimate thrill, which, for me, is parasailing.  because of my time spent para-sailing, sa...

Gymnastics

I've experienced, and will experience again, the ultimate thrill, which, for me, is parasailing.  because of my time spent para-sailing, sailing in the air off a gymnastics apparatus will never hold the same allure that it once did. still, It's pretty addictive.

Floor exercises and tumbling are just that, and anyone can do them at any time and at any place. There's a buzz associated with being able to complete a sequence of handsprings, round-offs, tucks, and other maneuvers that most other people cannot do, and I'm grateful for the buzz I get each time I complete such a sequence even if no one is watching, but the thrill is in the flying, and the greatest flying that occurs in gymnastics happens with the aid of an apparatus.

My personal favorite apparatus is the vault. It's the one that most closely simulates flying. You  start at the end of a runway, much as an aircraft would, get a bit of speed going, and use a combination of  a springboard and a vault to fly and flip  through the air in ways that the human body probably was not intended to do.  The time spent in the air is no more than two seconds, but it feels as though time is suspended and seems longer than the very brief couple of seconds that it is.

I'll continue to para-sail when I get the opportunity, but vaulting is much less expensive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Categories of Church Membership, and Celestial Roo...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Categories of Church Membership, and Celestial Roo...: My mom was on the phone with a relative from my dad's side of the family for almost an hour this afternoon.  This particular relative can o...

Categories of Church Membership, and Celestial Rooms

My mom was on the phone with a relative from my dad's side of the family for almost an hour this afternoon.  This particular relative can only speak for about fifteen seconds without something about her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, creeping into the conversation. Such is the case with several of my paternal relatives.

Many people have been born into or have struck up affiliations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but do not practice the faith to any serious degree. Some no longer believe. Some profess to believe but claim they just can't follow the rules. Mormons are not unique in this regard. The same sort of church/self relationships  exist in many faiths, particularly in those religious denominations with comparatively demanding rules for members to follow.  The following comments do not pertain to non-practicing, lukewarm, or on again/off again Mormons.

I've decided that practicing Mormons fall into three categories: Mormons, uber-nazi Mormons, and Mormons With Celestial Rooms In Their Homes.  I have one nuclear family of relatives who fall under category one. The remainder are solid twos and threes.

Regular Mormons attend church on a consistent basis, although they don't seem to feel the need to drag a sick child to church because both parents have classes to teach on a given Sunday.  They probably pay a full ten per cent tithing (probably even on their gross income), as they do attend temple session on occasion, and paying one's tithing is supposedly a requirement for a temple recommend. They don't consume alcohol, coffee, or tea, and probably don't drink many caffeinated soft drinks, but they don't make a habit of pointing out distinctions between what they drink and what others drink. They typically do family things on Sundays. On an occasional Sunday, this may be expanded to  include extended family, and sometimes the Sunday activities may even include water, as in swimming in a pool or going to a beach.

Uber-nazi Mormons would never swim or go to a beach on a Sunday. Satan owns the water. This is also a reason given for why young men and women on full-time missions may not swim. (I never understood why, if Satan owns the water, it would be safe to swim any other day of the week, either. If anything, wouldn't God be all the more vigilant in protecting His Chosen People on His Holy Sabbath Day?)  Uber-nazi Mormons' sons serve missions whether or not the young men personally feel the call. It's an obligation and an expectation. Sometimes high-priced carrots, as in new cars or paid college educations, are held over the prospective missionaries'  heads. At other times, the pressure is more psychological: 100%  of Grandma's sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons have served honorable missions. Do you really want to be the one to change that?  Uber-nazi Mormons pay tithing rather than the mortgage if there isn't enough money for both.

With Mormons With Celestial Rooms In Their Homes, everything pertaining to the previous category is also in place. They just step things up a notch by designing (usually this happens in the design phase of a home, before it is constructed, but not always) and dedicating a special room in their homes to be like the Celestial Room of an LDS temple. Celestial Rooms in homes are typically decorated similarly to celestial rooms in temples  and are usually kept in an immaculate state of  cleanliness *** even if the furnishings resemble those of the lobby of the Pink cloud Motel.




(Note: this picture is of the Celestial Room of the Vancouver Temple, not of the lobby of the Pink Cloud Motel. I thought it essential to make the clarification, as confusing the two is a  mistake that could easily be made) Families pray together in these rooms. As far as what else might happen in these rooms, I'd rather not even think about it. Celestial Rooms In Homes make is clear to others that the family who lives here is just half-a-stride and a slightly quicker pace or so closer to the Grand Celestial Kingdom than are the rest of the Mormons -- even the uber-nazis.

If one were to  consider that Mormons of this category usually have two or three boxcars  full of children,  it would, in most of these cases, seem more prudent to devote the extra square home footage to additional sleeping quarters so that the offspring aren't sleeping in such close proximity that the lice can crawl from one head to the next one without taking a single step on non-human-head  territory, and the virus germs can travel from one host to another without going airborne.  That's just Alexis being OCD again, my Mormon relatives With Celestial Rooms In Their Homes   would say.

Some Mormons With Celestial Rooms In their Homes have sufficient funds that the space availability for sleeping quarters is a non-issue.  for them, it's both a function and a statement. Function: We have a special room to pray because we apparently believe god won't hear our prayers unless we're in our Celestial Room. Statement: We can afford a Celestial Room.  unfortunately, non of my relatives With Celestial Rooms fall into this sub-category.


*** Not all Celestial rooms are maintained to perfection. I've been in one (I'm usually not allowed inside them, and this is one I wish I had not been allowed inside) that would make a hoarder cringe either in self-recognition or because the standards of cleanliness and order were beneath even those of the hoarder.




Monday, January 14, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Something on a TV Program That Made Me Gag

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Something on a TV Program That Made Me Gag: Tonight, out of boredom, I ended up watching  TV program, My Life Is a Lifetime Movie.   the featured subject in this particular episode  w...

Something on a TV Program That Made Me Gag

Tonight, out of boredom, I ended up watching  a TV program, My Life Is a Lifetime Movie.  The featured subject in this particular episode  was a girl from Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, who found herself   both pregnant and at the center of a sexting controversy.  My opinions concerning both her pregnancy and her role in the sexting situation are mixed and probably not a lot different than anyone else's thoughts on the matters, so I won't even discuss them. Instead, I'll take a particular quote out of context.

The quote I'll address is this, "There's nothing  else to do in Tunkhannock, so young people have sex."   We've all heard this quote many times, with many different towns inserted in place of Tunkhannock, and occasionally with other activities mentioned in place of have sex, the most common probably being either drink or do drugs.  The other places I've heard cited as places where there's nothing for young people to do are as numerous, diverse and far-flung as Minneapolis, Minnesota, Temecula, California, Salem, Oregon, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Palmetto, Florida, Antioch, California, Sandpoint, Idaho, and Faribault, Minnesota. I'm sure I could think of more communities about which the same thing has been said if I thought for very long.

Perhaps I'm incorrect in saying this and I have no source to back up what I'm going to say next, but I'll say it anyway. My suspicion is that young people have been saying, "There's nothing to do in this town"  since before the time of Christ. What is different now is that not just the kids are saying it. The parents, too, are saying it to excuse their children's drug-using, boozing, or sexual activity. (Does boozing really need an excuse, anyway, unless one's draconian religion forbids it? Don't drink yourself into a coma,  don't drink while pregnant, and don't get behind the wheel of an auto, aircraft, boat, or whatever after drinking, but otherwise, who really gives a flying squirrel's ass?) If the parents really think the environment in which their children are being brought up is so deprived, perhaps they should either relocate or join together to create a few worthwhile activities, or, at the very least, rent a piano and secure lessons, teach the kid to sew, or at the very, very  least, tell the kid to go pull weeds or clean mold from the bathroom shower stalls. Anything would be preferable to using "There's nothing to do in this town" as an excuse for involvement with, booze, sex, drugs, or worse.

I was curious about Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania (know anything about it, Becca?), so I did about five minutes' worth of research. At Tunkhannock High school a partial list of interscholastic sports includes boys' football, boys' golf,  girls' field hockey, boys' and girls' cross country, boys' and girls' basketball, boys' and girls' tennis, girls' volleyball, boys' baseball, girls' softball, and boys' and girls' track and field. There's nothing to do in Tunkhannock. By way of clubs, there's a Future Business Leaders of America Club, a Key Club (which is a sort of junior Kiwanis service club), an Honor Society club and some sort of a robotics club. I will concede that the club offerings are a bit slim, but it's a small high school.  Marching and symphonic band appear to be offered, as is string ensemble, jazz ensemble,  and various vocal ensembles. The school student body produces a yearbook and a school newspaper. Academic offerings range from AP calculus to zoology to physics to vocational training to honors English to Latin.  Unless this high school is a paper/Internet mirage, the majority of which does not exist in real life, the faculty and administration are not doing a bad job of offering a quality program considering the size of the student body, which is just over one thousand. Furthermore, nothing appears to be stopping the youth of Tunkhannock from reading a book, or, for that matter, from writing  a book,  or painting a picture, creating a sculpture, or composing a symphony.

The community itself is small and a bit sparse, with a theatre and a Walmart but  no  malls, but how much really high-quality promotion of teen education improvement, social improvement, or morality enhancement has been known to occur at malls, anyway?

I didn't research churches, Boy and Girl scouting programs, 4-H, youth club sports, or anything of that nature, but with the town being within thirty-five minute of either Scranton (and anyone who's ever seen a single episode of The Office knows just what a hopping place Scranton is) or Wilkes-Barre, the youth cannot be all that deprived in those departments, either.

Youth of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, take whatever pictures of yourself you want, and send them to others on  cell phones at your own risk. (Incidentally, I'm not criticizing those who took on the District Attorney for having taken what seems to have been a rather draconian stance on sexting.) Have sex at your own risk, though protection is advised. Do these things and more if you must, but you cannot claim with any credibility that you do so because there is nothing else to do in your area. The claim has already been made, and it rang no more true when made by those who claimed it before you than it does when you make the claim.

Adults of Tunkhannock, if the youth of your town make the claim that they are bored and must involve themselves with sex, booze, or drugs (I didn't include rock and roll because rock and roll is good, and your young people should involve themselves with it), allow them, if you must, to make the excuse that there is nothing worthwhile to do where they live, but please don't make the excuse for them.


I realize that I used the word draconian twice in this one entry. I've become rather fond of the word.




The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: False Alarm of Sorts

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: False Alarm of Sorts: The thug didn't do it.  A "friend" did it to prank the thug. The thug was at fault for having my number in his cell phone. I have no idea h...

False Alarm of Sorts

The thug didn't do it.  A "friend" did it to prank the thug. The thug was at fault for having my number in his cell phone. I have no idea how he got it, but the town in which he lives and in which I used to live is not all that big, so it's not that hard to conceive of how he might have gotten my number.

Both boys blubbered like unfit whales in court, apparently. It is a felony to aid and abet another in the violation of a restraining order, so the friend could have been in serious trouble, but the DA let them both off this time with my blessing. They'll both face charges for this (the thug for even having my number in his phone when he had an active restraining order against him, and the friend for aiding him in violating the restraining order) if ANYTHING else happens, so it gives them both serious motivation to make sure no one in their circle messes with me..

I'm not in any danger. And I don't have to miss my gymnastics class.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: My Life As a Character in a Soap Opera, Chapter 11...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: My Life As a Character in a Soap Opera, Chapter 11...: Last night I was text messaged by someone who has been legally barred from contacting me. The message was not friendly. It's unlikely tha...

My Life As a Character in a Soap Opera, Chapter 11

Last night I was text messaged by someone who has been legally barred from contacting me. The message was not friendly.

It's unlikely that the person is a genuine threat to me, but I still found it freakish, sort of as in a "They can find me anywhere!" sort of way.  I admit to having reacted a bit hysterically before the people with me appealed to my sense of reality.

The truth of the matter is that they  can't find me anywhere; they merely can find my cell phone, and only until I change the number, which I will tomorrow. Meanwhile, my cell phone is in possession of an attorney, so that person and/or his friends is free to text away in as friendly or unfriendly a matter as he chooses. It won't bother me, as I won't even know about it.

If evidence indicates that the holder of the cell phone from which the text was sent was the the actual sender, he could be looking at a revocation of probation. it's hard to believe someone would be so stupid, but then again, it's hard to underestimate stupidity.  If the cell phone was stolen, the rightful owner would have done well to report it stolen before the text to me was sent. For that matter, even if it wasn't stolen, the rightful owner would have done well to report it as stolen before the text was sent to me,

This may turn out to be like a slow-motion version of one of those Law & Order SVU cases, where LUDs are pulled and analyzed, along with cell tower pings,  in order to determine who might have been in possession of the phone, in order  to determine from whom and from where the calls were made.  Chances are that LUDS and cell towers will tell the story. Even if it was the best friend of the owner and not the owner himself who sent the text, the cell phone owner may well be found at fault.

The District Attorney who oversaw my original case has asked me to skype classes this week where possible, and to skip them where not.  the university is 100 per cent in favor of this, as they do not wish to be the next educational institution to receive national news coverage because of major violence. Jurisdiction concerning this present breach has yet to be determined, though the original court has jurisdiction until a transfer takes place.  My godfather is upgrading the security system in my home as a late Christmas present to me family.  The house where I'm presently staying already is equipped with an alarm system second only to what would likely  be found at 1600 Pennsylvania or Fort Knox. (My hostess works as a prosecuting attorney, and her father is wealthy. he feels that protecting his daughter and her family is a worthwhile use of his money.) My home's new system will be similar.

While I will be in my lovely community, I won't be on campus for at least a week. This bothers me in terms of not being able to begin my gymnastics and tumbling courses, but I'll make up for lost time in this regard  in the next few weeks.

And so it goes, and so it goes . . .






Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Leper Colony of Sorts

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Leper Colony of Sorts: I'm semi-locked into a quarantine situation.  It's comfortable; I have my own room and bathroom, and my bedroom has a TV with cable and On ...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Leper Colony of Sorts

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Leper Colony of Sorts: I'm semi-locked into a quarantine situation.  It's comfortable; I have my own room and bathroom, and my bedroom has a TV with cable and On ...

A Leper Colony of Sorts

I'm semi-locked into a quarantine situation.  It's comfortable; I have my own room and bathroom, and my bedroom has a TV with cable and On Demand.  I like the people with whom I'm quarantined.The hosts also have a dog that I like, and just for today and tomorrow, they're caring for a neighbor's cat, which gives me added amusement.

There's a piano in the event that I feel like playing it, although I haven't had sufficient energy to even think about playing it yet. Just in case I were to be the recipient of a sudden burst of energy, there's even a violin belonging to one of the house residents that I could play if I really felt like it. I just haven't felt like it.

Despite the comfort of my surroundings, I want to go home. Lest anyone get the idea that I'm overly sentimental, I would want to go home even if my parents and brother were in Antarctica.  I really miss my room.

I have the most perfect room in the universe.  It has huge windows, which I can use to take in the sun or the fog when I so desire. It also has lovely, opaquing blinds and curtains that I can use to cover up the windows when I would prefer for my room to be more like a cave.  My aunt and godmother, who has decorative sense far superior to my own, remodeled and decorated the room for me when my parents moved into their current home.  It's similar to a room she decorated for me in our old home in northern California.  The inspiration for the motif came from a jar of pink, white, and black jelly beans. The floor, walls and bedding  (and even the piano, which I had before, but moved into my bedroom in this house since the room was sufficiently large) are all color-coordinated, and I have multiple rugs, comforters, and sheets that I can switch when the mood suits me.  It's all a bit juvenile in appearance, but  I'm eighteen, and therefore not yet required to possess geriatric tastes.

I'll return home and to my beloved room after my 1:00 class on Tuesday.   Until that point, I may still be shedding virus germs, so I'm required to remain among the afflicted.

This causes me to wonder what it must have been like to have been afflicted with leprosy, AKA Hansen's Disease, before the modern age of medicine.  Most  diagnosed lepers of yore ended up either on the isle of Molokai in Hawaii, or in Carville, Louisiana.  If anyone has the idea that the island of Molokai is some sort of tropical paradise, google it to find out just how incorrect your mental images are.  It looks as I would imagine a cross between Arizona and Hell to look. I've never been to Carville, Louisiana (named for one of the ancestors of political strategist and pundit James Carville, by the way, who happens to be, in my opinion, one of the funniest people on the planet) but I can't imagine that living there would be all that much better than living on Molokai. If it were, why would anyone have given the acreage away to lepers?

Leprosy, or Hansen's Disease, is supposedly still incurable but now controllable. Regardless, I'd rather not contract it. You don't hear much about anyone getting it now, at least around here, although there was a person on House with a case of it a few years ago.  I know very little about the condition except that it was common in Biblical times, and people routinely lost digits and even extremities to the condition. When I was in second grade, anyone who sold enough tickets to the school's annual fish fry was allowed to watch the movie Father Damien: The Leper Priest, which was originally a made-for TV movie. The movie so inspired my brother that six or so years later, he took "Damien" as his confirmation name.  The movie merely inspired me never to worry about selling enough of whatever it was we were forced to sell to get whatever incentive the nuns and their minions were holding over our heads.  I can have bad dreams on my own quite nicely without some movie causing  nightmares about my fingers and toes falling off.

In the meantime, I'm among pleasant company until my quarantine is lifted.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Hello Again: To the World of the Living I Am Retur...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Hello Again: To the World of the Living I Am Retur...: My Aunt Jillian temporarily took over my blog to announce that I was suffering from a gastro-intestinal ailment.  She was euphemizing, mini...

Hello Again: To the World of the Living I Am Returning

My Aunt Jillian temporarily took over my blog to announce that I was suffering from a gastro-intestinal ailment.  She was euphemizing, minimizing, putting a positive spin on things, or otherwise  vastly underrating the gravity of my condition. The medical community would have, and did, agree with her assessment of the situation. No doctor considered my condition especially critical. I, on the other  would gladly have moved along to that great gymnasium in the sky, where one need not fear injury after a fall from an apparatus of any height because what little gravity exists there would not pull a person to the floor, the ground, the daisies, or whatever surface covers the place, at a strong enough rate for injury to occur, rather than face another bout with this particular brand of gastritis, stomach flu, or whatever it is properly called by the person in or from Hell who invented it.

On a more serious note, I'm well aware that I was nowhere near death.  On the other hand, most of you can relate to that otherwise indescribable feeling of sickness, initiated with hours of lying absolutely motionless in bed,  hoping to ward off the worse-than-death feeling by remaining sufficiently still that the Destroying Angel already thinks you're dead, followed by intestinal cramping and diarrhea so intense that remaining motionless is no longer an option unless one wishes HAZMAT to become involved in the situation, and the feeling -- though diarrhea is imminent,  or may just have happened, that what must be holding it up at present  must be a major twist of the colon or ileum along some crucial junction, when it becomes equally apparent that one's upper abdominal tract is in every but as much as trouble as is one's intestinal tract. If one is fortunate, a bathroom rubbish tin is within reach, so that one may have receptacles as each oracle (including the nose) violently spews forth.   I understand that you've heard far more than you wanted or needed to hear, but  I know of no better way to explain that peculiar feeling that immediate death would be preferable to what one is just about to experience. Most of you have probably been there before, and most of you will relate.

Now I'm merely left with the residual weakness, dehydration and skin discoloration that makes me resemble a member of the Addams Family or the Munsters (except Marilyn, whose skin tone bears no resemblance to mine today). My Uncle Jerry says that if I keep enough fluids down, by tomorrow, I may merely look like a sunken-eyed, alabaster ghost, as opposed to a ghost whose tinting more closely resembles a shade of North Atlantic green. I have an IV, so if all my drugs work, I'll make it to the new and preferred stage tomorrow.

My Uncle Jerry says he's sending off an alert to my gymnastics professor that I am not cleared for any exercise that takes place above floor level. My balance bean\m routine will have to wait a couple of days.

Thanks to everyone who offered get well wishes. I SHALL return, and with a vengeance. For now, though, I'm going back to bed.

Bon soir


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Announcement from Auntie Jillian

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Announcement from Auntie Jillian: Alexis appears to have contracted the same digestive bug that has been floating around my neighborhood. On Monday she held my neighbor's fu...

Announcement from Auntie Jillian

Alexis appears to have contracted the same digestive bug that has been floating around my neighborhood. On Monday she held my neighbor's fussy baby at the hospital while my neighbor was examined by a colleague of my husband because her symptoms matched those of other sick people in our immediate neighborhood. Thought should have been given as to why the normally cherubic infant was cranky. Baby came down with the bug the next morning.  Alexis now has it.

Alexis was suffering in silence in her bedroom all afternoon and evening. Her father checked on her and found her ill at about midnight. She's been moved to the designated sick house (my house) where everyone  either has the bug, is in various stages of recovery and can help care for the sicker ones, or appears immune, which is my dad. My Dad is an MD and can care for everyone. Others in the family are dropping off provisions,

Alexis is currently hooked up to an IV for hydration and intraveinous infusion of anti-emetic and anti-diarrheal medications.  In a matter of hours she should be feeling merely sick, as opposed to the feeling of imminent death that she is presently experiencing.  She'll be out of classes for the remainder of the week, so her actual return to gymnastics will be postponed by roughly five days. Alas, what's good is worth waiting for.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Return to Gymnastics and Tumbling

A long, long, time ago my privileges as a gymnast were revoked by my parents because I [successfully] performed a couple of gymnastics maneuvers on the roof of our two-story home. I'm really not sure how much it would have mattered if it had been a one-story house, or, for that matter, a four-story dwelling, but my parents always include the number of floors of the house when they tell the story, so I thought I should as well. Anyway, I'm eighteen now, so any parental ban on gymnastics and tumbling is a moot point. Since I have to take a total of 1.0 units in physical education activity courses, I signed up for both gymnastics and tumbling this quarter. Both courses met for the first time today.

I was required to sign up for the "beginning" sections of both gymnastics and tumbling, although "beginning" and "intermediate" sections of the courses meet at the same time and location.  I could petition the instructor for a change in designation, but I'm not sure it makes any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Today was just an orientation in both courses. Procedures and restrictions were detailed.  We'll get down to the nitty gritty on Thursday. Ban notwithstanding, I've never stopped tumbling. One merely needs a grassy field to go through a complete floor routine. Apparati, however, are another matter entirely.  I expect to have very little skill remaining there, particularly with regard to the vault.  The degree to which my skill level returns will be interesting.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Early Decision

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Early Decision: Three hours ago I had about thirty-six hours in which to make a decision as to whether or not I would  participate in track and field this ...

Early Decision

Three hours ago I had about thirty-six hours in which to make a decision as to whether or not I would  participate in track and field this academic year.  If I my name were were LeBron James, I would have reserved a large block of TV time in which to announce my decision, but since I'm not, I'll announce it here. In a normal university situation, this decision would have needed to have been made months ago, but the pickings are a bit slim on my university's team due to a couple of unexpected transfers. I just concluded that I had put the decision off for long enough. I will not be hurdler this year. It's a decision about which I feel great.

I'm too skinny as it is, and a major developmental milestone that most girls reach years before they're my age (18) eludes me.   Adding an activity  to my daily routine that's going to burn roughly seven-hundred calories every day of practice will not help me to reach this milestone any faster.

I enjoy hurdling, but not enough to put myself though an entire NCAA season of it.

My rationale had been that a year of NCAA athletic participation would pad my medical school application. While there's some truth to that rationale, being alive would also greatly increase my chances of medical school admission.  The way my luck has been running lately, I'd have another freak  hurdling accident.  

If I really wanted to compete, the odds of an unlikely accident would not stand in my way, but since my desire is not all that strong, I'm going with it.  Hurdling kills. I want to remain alive. Therefore, I'm not hurdling.   if the decision keeps me out of medical school. law school, Federico College of Cosmetology, Groover's College of Mortuary Science, or anything else, I'll live with the consequences.