Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How things have changed!

January 2012:
Charlie was NOT happy about having a dog in her house.

October 30, 2012:
Awwww :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

pre-Halloween trip to GA

I have really got to stop telling myself that I will be able to go home for a few days AND do schoolwork, because it really never works out that way.

I left Orlando on Thursday afternoon and drove to Georgia. A friend of mine was taking her kids and a couple of others to the local Halloween party downtown, and invited me to come along. I dressed as a crewmember from the Battlestar Galactica. I would have loved to have gone as Starbuck, but being neither blonde nor anywhere near as badass, I just went as a random BSG crewmember. No one knew who I was supposed to be. I didn’t expect any little kids to know, but several adults in my age bracket asked me what I was supposed to be. Most hadn’t even heard of BSG. One didn’t realize there was a ‘new’ series, saying, “Wow, that’s going back a few decades.”

Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck

Me as Starbuck or random BSG crewmember

Me, C, and a gaggle of children

That night I discovered that water was no longer flowing into my toilet. No, the knob in the bathroom that you can use to shut the water to the toilet had not been shut off. Nonetheless, no water was making its way into the tank. No idea why. Water everywhere else in the house is working just fine. I figured I’d just fill my tank up from a bucket each time I needed to flush and worry about this later. Like maybe Christmas break.

On Friday, mom went down to Florida, leaving me in charge of all the animals. I spent a lot of time out at the land, cleaning the trailer and playing with the kitties.


Buddy (who is very much NOT anyone's buddy)

Donnie's tail has grown even more absurd.


Clean Spartan!

With kitties going in and out all the time, it never stays clean, though.

When I wasn’t out at the land, I was at mom’s house, taking care of the animals there. Which mainly meant ‘playing with animals.’

Marlee, Netta, and Blondie

Blondie and Netta

Some jackass spray-painted black all over mom’s Obama-Biden signs. There is definitely a racial element to politics in this town. My mom’s neighborhood is predominantly white, and there are Romney-Ryan signs all over the place. I drove through a couple prominently black neighborhoods, and only saw Obama-Biden signs. Mom’s is the only sign up here that I’ve seen that doesn’t fit that pattern… and take a look at the results:


I meant to spend Saturday night doing homework, but I confess that I spent it curled up in bed with Charlie, Mochi, and a good book.

Saturday wasn’t particularly eventful, and I was able to finish grading an assignment for four sections of a class (over 100 students), but I didn’t get any of *my* schoolwork done. I did, however, get a picture of my mom with her new car.


I’m back in Orlando now… time for a nap, and then some major schoolwork time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Of horses and bayonets...

For those of you who missed the debate, you might be hearing Republicans shouting 'Obama compared naval ships to horses!' and other such nonsense. He didn't. He may have been patronizing to Romney in this clip (OK, so he was totally patronizing), but he did not equate horses to naval vessels. He did, however, make use of a nice rhetorical argument I've made use of myself. Romney was deriding Obama for the fact that the US Navy has fewer ships now than it had in the past. Obama's point was that we're working smarter, not harder. We don't need as many ships as we had 50, 70, 100 years ago, because now we have more high tech warships. Just take a look at the specs for the USS George HW Bush, the US's newest supercarrier. And believe me, until you've been on an aircraft carrier (and I have been on several), you have no idea of the size and scope of these floating cities of war-making. Believe me when I say that one modern supercarrier is worth a whole fleet of ships from fifty years ago. So do we need to keep the same number of ships we had back in 1916, or do we need to work smarter, not harder?

I spent two and a half years as a US federal government employee under George W. Bush. During this time the agency that hired me was transitioned out of the US Department of Defense and into a different arm of the US government, the US Office of Personnel Management. (This was done in order to route more money to the war effort.) In order to cut operating costs, the folks at OPM initially argued that we should have our workplace internet access revoked. (I should point out that our job was conducting background investigations for people getting US government security clearances. After 9/11. Under George W. Bush.) Thank the gods they came to their senses and decided that well, maybe it was OK for investigators to have internet access after all. The thing is, there was an OPM representative who was sent to our field office prior to the beginning of the transition in order to ease the process. She and I had several rather heated arguments, in which she vehemently argued that there was no need for investigators to use the internet because "the internet is just a tool, and we have plenty of other tools at our disposal - we got along fine for decades without the internet, we don't need to be wasting money on it now!" My response was always that we got along fine for centuries with horses, but she wasn't arguing that we should trade in our government vehicles for horses and buggies was she? 

Now did I just equate the internet to horses? Don't be daft. I did, however, just use the same exact type of argument the President used.

Friday, October 19, 2012

no physical harm!

A long, long time ago, back when I was 16, my friends and I had a rather bizarre and overly superstitious year. I'm not going to get into all of that here (although maybe when I finish writing The Inhumane Society I'll get back to writing The WD-40 story, which would address that year of my life in great detail), but for now I want to talk about one phrase: no physical harm. This phrase, more so than any of the other weirdness that came from that year, has stuck with me. Just ask anyone who has known me since then; I say it all the time. But what does it mean?

When I was a tenth grader, my friends and I could be rather catty. (What tenth grade girl isn't?) There was a girl that our group didn't like (I'm pretty sure there was a boy involved). One of my friends (whose house I happen to be renting currently!) was very upset with this particular girl and said something along the lines of, "I hope something really, really, really bad happens to her! Well, no physical harm." - and that afternoon the girl in question totaled her car. But she was fine.

From that point on, anytime we said anything pertaining to death or harm or danger, or did anything potentially dangerous, we would say 'no physical harm.' "Aaack! This test is going to kill me. No physical harm." "What an asshole. I could seriously kill him. No physical harm." In an airplane getting ready to take off? No physical harm! In a van passing uphill on a blind curve in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan? No physical harm! In a marshrutka on the way to Chernobyl? No physical harm! You get the picture. On facebook, this often appears as 'NPH!' tacked on to the end of posts and comments. (This of course leads to the occasional Neil Patrick Harris joke, because what else could NPH mean?)

I've wanted to get a tattoo of something since 1997. Luckily, I'm not one of those people who rushes into things, because had I gotten any of the designs I was mulling over tattooed on myself way back then, I would've ended up taking a hot iron to my body for the purpose of burning that shit off within the year. I've had lots of ideas for tattoos over the years, although none has ever really stuck. Some I simply grew out of. Other designs ended up reminding me of things I'd rather forget. Then, this past January, I had a bit of an epiphany: I would get no physical harm tattooed on myself somewhere!

Unfortunately, I was in Korea at the time. You can definitely get tattoos in Korea, although finding a reputable, quality tattoo parlor is a bit of a challenge. In Korea, tattoos are still, for the most part, seen as something sported by gangsters and criminals. There are certainly young punks and hipsters who have started to sport the odd tat here and there, but it's really not all that common. I looked online and found a couple of websites for tattoo parlors in both English and Korean, but when I say "a couple" I mean two. In a city of 18 million people. Not exactly confidence boosting - and I didn't want to end up with a Konglish rendition of my catch phrase permanently embedded on my body. So I decided to wait.

In the small southern town where I lived from March through July of this year, there are a couple of tattoo parlors... but nothing to particularly inspire confidence. If you're going to have something permanently etched into your skin, it should be done by someone who exudes confidence - and has evidence to back up his or her skill, you know? I asked friends with tattoos, and got recommendations for tattoo artists in Tallahassee and Sarasota and Savannah, but I never felt like making the drive. Then I moved to Orlando. I swear there's a tattoo parlor on every single block down here. But again - I needed to know where I could go to get a quality tattoo. Then a friend of mine from the small southern town recommended the place where he had just gotten a tattoo - and yes, he had driven all the way down to Orlando to get it: Ascension Tattoo.

I spent a lot of time over the past few months perusing their website. After totally rocking my midterms - and having a few days to rest and relax before throwing myself into the swing of studying once more - I decided it was time:



I love it! I found the folks at Ascension Tattoo to be very professional and friendly, and they did exactly what I asked. The font is 1942 Report, which is my favorite decorative font (it's the font I used on the Desolation Travel website). Also, while I was a little concerned that it would hurt (although I do have a fairly high tolerance for pain), it didn't. It felt like someone was writing on my arm with a really sharp pen - which I guess is, essentially, what they were doing - but hurt? Nah. NPH!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A short break from my studies.

I've knocked two of the three midterms down (the third is next Tuesday), and I'm just about ready to submit my conference proposal... now it's time to work on my web-post (due Monday), exam #3 (Tuesday), and my presentation (Wednesday). I figured I had enough time to run Mochi down to the dog park for a little squirrel chasing :-)



Monday, October 8, 2012

Quests for Bows and Yellow Flowers

In the area of southeast GA where my mom lives, there's a yearly event called the Fifteen Mile Yard Sale. Pretty much everyone who lives along its route has a yard sale during this event. People who don't live there drive in and set up shop along the side of the road. Food trucks sell sausage dogs and funnel cakes and hot tamales. The fifteen mile stretch of the normally sleepy two-lane is packed with cars. Yes, I drove three and a half hours to GA to attend the Fifteen Mile Yard Sale. 

Mom and I spent SIX hours yard sale-ing. It was a little insane. I even ate a sausage dog. I came away with a bunch of paperback mysteries, a lot of clothing, a picture frame shaped like a cat, a super-awesome orange purse (originally priced at $80; purchased by me for $5), and a $500 value compound hunting bow (purchased for $250). Before we started out in the morning, I had actually said that the one thing I really wanted to find was a compound bow. I'd been looking at them online and knew how much they went for, and I certainly didn't expect to find one, but whaddyaknow. I'm one step closer to being ready for the apocalypse.

That would be me, trying to look tough.

Some other pictures from my 24hr stint in GA:

This is Donnie, one of the "kittens" dumped at our land back in April. Boy has he grown - and his tail is ALWAYS up like that. I can't believe no one has adopted him :(

Mom has started getting the interior of the house sheetrocked. It is slowly coming along.

Jack O' Lanterns on mom's front porch

Oh, Georgia. Every time I go there, this sign has gotten even more ridiculous.
(Also, there's been all sorts of crazy racist shit over this sign:
see here, here, here, and here.)
I've already voted... and I voted for OBAMA. Take that, sign.

Meanwhile, down in the Orlando area, there's a lake called Lake Jesup. It's located just to the south of Sanford. One of my classes meets every other week at the Sanford/Lake Mary campus, and to get there I drive along the 417 (large toll-road), which crosses Lake Jesup. This past week when driving across the bridge over the lake, I noticed that the area to my right (east of the bridge) along the shore was just blanketed in gorgeous yellow flowers, which looked incredibly picturesque, especially as the fields of flowers flowed into the lake, and were dotted by palms. Apparently, this area is known for its beautiful swamp sunflowers that bloom during the last week of September and first week of October. I really wanted to make it down there to check them out while I still had the chance. I actually planned to stop off at the Lake Jesup Conservation Area on my way home from Georgia - but as I didn't roll into Orlando until after 8pm (I hadn't expected to spend six hours at a yard sale!), that didn't happen. I really needed to spend today studying (midterms start this coming week), but I figured it was now or never.

Apparently it's going to be never. I found my way to the Marl Flats entrance to the Lake Jesup Conservation Area, and began hiking in. Unfortunately, it was very, very wet. My hiking shoes were no match for being up to mid-calf in water and muck. I plowed on until I reached a spot where the actual location of the trail became impossible to discern. I didn't mind the wetness and the muck too much when I knew I was on the right track, but I wasn't going to just wade out blindly into the wetland all by my lonesome. I did find some of the swamp sunflowers, but I never made it to anywhere particularly picturesque.

The trail was flowing.

This was definitely wetland. Emphasis on wet.
You can see a few yellow flowers, but nothing like the view from the highway.

I then decided to drive to the western side of the 417, where there's a park called the Lake Jesup Park. I thought I might be able to get a decent view of the yellow flowers from over there. Instead I got a couple of decent shots of a duck and of the lake, and then found myself up to my knees in muck amongst some not-too-photogenic swamp sunflowers.

Lake Jesup


This path started out all dry and promising, but just led to a muckhole with no view. Alas.

Apparently the best way to photograph the flowers is to pull off to the side of the 417 and shoot from there - and apparently people do. I'm kind of amazed, as I opted not to do that, thinking it was to dangerous even for me. Anyway, if you'd like to see what I was unable to shoot, here are some links to the blog of a fellow who photographs these flowers every year: here, here, here, here, and here.

I'm not anticipating much posting - either here or over at The Inhumane Society - during the next two weeks or so, as I have three midterm exams to prepare for and take, a conference proposal to write, a presentation to plan and give, and a web posting to write. I'll see you on the flip side!