Jul 21, 2008

Sticks and Moans


The universe just toyed with me for its own cruel amusement. Every year around the time of graduation, it occurs to me that, although the undergrads are gone, we won’t have free rein of the parking lot for long. This is because the university that I attend leases out the parking lot to a variety of businesses over the summer, and cordons off an area for them. Invariably, they get the area closest to the building in which I work, meaning I have to trek from further a field to get to work, grumbling all the way. I’m not what anyone would term a “morning person” so my sense of injustice usually evaporates by the time I get through my first cup of coffee. The parking lots are, after all, property of the university. When there are about ten spaces per car, owing to the undergrads’ absence, this is a no-brainer as sources of income go. If I owned land off which I could make money, I would do so in a heartbeat. Hooray for the free market! However, part of my gripe is the nature of the businesses that come to “my” parking lot. For instance, as a person who is concerned about the environment, I somewhat resent the fleets of pick-up trucks and other such gas-guzzlers being transported to the campus by a local car dealership.

However, if I could wave the proverbial magic wand and make just one group rid themselves from our parking lot, I can’t honestly say that I would be doing Mother Nature any favours. Nope. Priority would be given to the baton-twirlers that darken our asphalt every June for what is called “Twirl-O-Rama”, “Twirl-Mania” or something equally inane. Every year, armadas of SUV’s arrive coated in neon-coloured paint spelling out supposedly fun phrases like “Honk if you love twirling”, “Good Luck Britney/Summer/Tiffany”, or “[noun]-ettes #1”. Judging by the variety of states’ license plates on these cars, we can assume that these people have driven little “Britney” down miles and miles of freeway, where I cannot believe it is safe to obstruct one’s vision with opaque paint, encouraging the cars around you to sound their horns at random.

Out of these vehicles teem swarms of prepubescent girls toting more make-up than Tammy Faye-Bakker, and less clothing than a mid-routine exotic dancer, and off they go until they find a place on the sidewalk leading to the building where I work, where they spread out and start practicing, making sure not to get out of the way of anyone who is trying to pass. Adding to this tardy-inducing spectacle are the twirler moms, who put the stereotypical pageant mom to shame. Nothing starts your morning, or indeed your faith in humanity, quite like watching and overweight 40-year-old scream vituperatively at a 6-year-old for dropping a stick. After all, baton twirling is advanced fidgeting at best. This is a sport where we are expected to praise children for mastering the skill set of a golden retriever. After I successfully traverse the gauntlet of glittery projectiles, I have an eight to ten hour respite at work, until it is time to go and find my little needle-coloured car in the haystack of SUV’s. This usually goes on for about a week, though as teams are knocked out of the competition, the numbers dwindle.

This year, however, there is a lot of construction going on around the campus, especially near the parking lot in question. I was conducting my annual “googling” of the dates for this event, so as to prepare myself psychologically for the junket of the tossers, only to find a variety of online forums speculating that it may be held somewhere else this year because of the construction. Hurrah! My last summer on campus won’t be marred by being hit in the face with errant batons or meeting people who are legally obliged to introduce themselves to me. There will be no assaults on my belief in the basic decency of people or the pure altruism of the maternal instinct. Good times.

Cut to this morning, where I am in my car and driving to work, when I passed an out-of-state suburban. I only got a fleeting glance at the car, but I was sure that it looked like maybe a bird had pooped on it… Pink poop? Neon pink poop that somehow fell in an organized pattern… like words. Something about honking? NOOOOOOOOO!! They’re here. Hair bigger than ever. Metric tonnes of make-up and inappropriate clothing as far as the eye can see. Dulcet tones of ghastly intramenopausal women berating their offspring for being failures. I can’t believe it. The “internets” lied to me!

Jul 6, 2008

10 things in 1000 days

I went on a bit of a pattern purchasing spree a few months ago. I think it was after the bamboo needle buying splurge, but before the 100purewool binge. I think that I can change their statuses from "impulse buy" to "investment in a hobby" if I make at least one thing from each book. I have started a sweater from one of the books and a crocheted child's top from another.
So, here it is: Task #2! I am going to attempt to make a pattern from each book or pamphlet, and not just the cloche-you-can-figure-out-by-looking-at pattern that is invariably featured in every book. I'll blog about my progress, should there be any. Wish me luck!



How Much Time Has Passed?

Jul 5, 2008

Day 31: Duplicate Check

That was 1/343rd of my life to date. I got the idea from my friend Carly, who was doing it as part of a more ambitious "101 things in 1001 days" exercise. I would love to attempt such an undertaking at some point, but I don't think it would be such a good idea to do it during the same year that I am writing my thesis.

Day 30: Free at last!

Here's the last in my Month in Photos exercise. My brand new camera is now officially broken in. It was a lot of fun, but I couldn't help but be reminded of the episode of Monk, where a crazy gold prospector from the 1800's had filled hundreds of diaries with gibberish. Monk commented that he had run out of things to say after only five pages, but just kept on writing.

Today is Independence Day. Being a graduate student, I did a full day's work, but I spent the evening at my friend, Kristine's house. We had a lovely barbecue; her husband's grilled corn is a local delicacy! Then we walked downtown to see a firework's display that, unfortunately as it turned out, had happened yesterday. It was still a really nice evening, and we did see the fireworks from the local baseball stadium. I tried to get pictures of the fireworks, but the nicest shot I got was of my friends as they watched the display.


Jul 3, 2008

Day 29: I like big Butts!

My boyfriend gets very cross when I shorten Buttons' name to Butt-butt. Needless to say, I don't think my cat recognizes his full name at this point. However, we are getting a new feline house mate in September, who is currently staying with me while his owner is away, called Butters. I'm thinking that Butt-Butt may be a convenient way of getting both their attention at the same time.
I am following online advice about introducing cats, so they are currently separated by the door in my living room. They have both been very curious as to what is on the other side of it and I will allow them to see each other in a day or two. The benefit to Butters spending a couple of days with us before he moved in, is that if I don't introduce in a way that makes them accept one another, I get a second shot at it. Buttons is quite stupid, so I have every confidence that he would be able to have a clean slate memory-wise, if worst came to worst. Butters' owner says he to is not the brightest cookie in the tool shed either, though he thus far hasn't seemed as stupid as Buttons. They are both very sweet cats so I am reasonably confident they will be friends.

Jul 2, 2008

Day 28: Go Team Venture!

Can't blog; watching Venture Bros. DVD's!

Jul 1, 2008

Day 27: Yield to right of way

Clarence Thomas once said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” It seems that some people think that education can, however, open enough doors. Take, for instance, the swarms of intrapubescents who descend on the campus every summer, presumably because their parents need a break from the sass-mouthed reminders of their failure to impart the basics of etiquette.

By far, the most aggravating behaviour of these young-un’s is that they walk across campus in clumps, spanning the entire width of the sidewalk and refuse to move out of the way of anyone walking toward them. Being behind them is not much better a predicament, as they walk at the break-neck speeds one would expect of continental drift.

I don’t want to play the “this is my campus” card, but does it not occur to these young’uns either to keep to one side or put that fancy “respect your elders” thing to some practical use? Some people try to stand their ground, hoping for a last-minute recognition of their right to use the sidewalk – the credulous fools - and such approaches invariably result in collisions. Courtesy of some thesis weight, this approach actually has proven to be somewhat amusing for me recently, because my closing momentum outdoes theirs by a fair margin.

I have pixelated the faces of these whippersnappers, not out of any respect for their privacy, but rather, to describe better how I actually view them, i.e. faceless obstacles on a route I have no intention of modifying. I was particularly unimpressed by this cadre of strollers after I watched them fail to move out of the way of my neighbour (see arrow), who was pushing her young baby’s pram and walking with her two year old son, thus forcing her to get off the pavement and walk on the grass while passing them.

Day 26: Wireless Cardless

I don't take great care of my laptop. It has probably depreciated to nothing by now, the space bar rarely works and you can buy a flash drive to dangle from your key-chain with a larger capacity for about $50. That said, it was a little careless of me to have left it teetering on an armrest in the same room as my cat. I was in the kitchen washing dishes when I heard a crash. I went into the living room to see my laptop on the floor and Buttons looking a little guilty.
Only that I use my laptop to write my thesis, was I happy that my laptop's fall was broken by what is ironically the most valuable part of it: the wireless card. Ever since it has been very sporadic about connecting to the internet and cuts off at inopportune times. I was chatting to Carly on Facebook earlier today when it cut me off. Even standing directly below one of the building's new wireless transmitters didn't help.
I exhaled in its general vicinity this evening, which caused part of it to fall off. When I saw the damage that had actually been done to it, I was impressed that it was getting online at all. I'll get a new one whenever I get the chance, but hopefully this picture will excuse my failing to get this day's entry in before midnight!

10 Things in 1000 days

I decided to rationalize my impulse purchasing of knitting books by setting myself a personal challenge.
Here's how long I have left:

Quotation of the Day

This Day in History

Is There Anybody Out There?

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