Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Birthday, fires, and other stuff

Well what a week last week was. First of all, the county was in a huge panic cause some nasty wildfires started last Sunday (21st). Actually there were 3 major fires: one was in our area, one was up near Malibu, and one was near the U.S.-Mexico border. Then there were little fires that sprung up from those. Thousands of people were evacuated, including some people at my work. I didn't go to school all week cause school was closed, and even went into work on Thursday (I would've normally been off) so I could get that Sunday (28th) off, as it was my birthday that day.

Yes, I have had my birthday, so I am now TWENTY-THREE. Scary.

(sorry left for a bit and went to YouTube. I'm back though)

Anyway, on my birthday I went to church with my parents (at their church) and then we went to this place called the Elephant Bar for lunch. Then we came home and opened presents. My parents got me a PRINTER, which I do very much need for use with my laptop. To go with it, I got a black/white printer cartridge and a ream of printer paper. I also got a new pair of PJ's, a set of scrunchies (useful for work), and a $15 Itunes gift card (which I can make some use of even though I don't have an iPod).

After this we went to a place called Clay n' Latte (which did not quite live up to its name since its latte machine was broken that day), where you pick out ceramics and paint them. I picked out a little castle thing where the castle is the top for a little trinket box, my mom picked out a similar sort of box but where the top was a crown, and my dad picked out a huge bowl. We had fun doing this.

Afterwards, we went to the movie theater in the same shopping center and saw Dan in Real Life, that new movie with Steve Carell. I have not seen much of his work, but he was really funny. Plus the movie had that guy who plays the dad on Frasier, and he's always excellent and fun to watch.

After this, we went home, and unfortunately got into a heavy discussion about my health insurance and stuff which kinda dampened things. My mom said later that I need to take care of myself -- small things like getting my room clean so it can stay clean -- before worrying about huge stuff like saving for a car. I told Heather the next day this sounded like therapy talk, but it was true and I knew it. Anyway, I felt better later cause we had my cake, and if there's one things sweets can do, it's making you feel better. I ordered the cake from work and Heather decorated it, even suggesting some elements that weren't part of the original design in the book but which she thought would look nice, asking my permission first of course (I was actually at work when she was making it).

I'll probably try to post a picture if I can get my mom to send me one of the pictures she took of the cake with her digital camera, but here's basically what it looked like: it was a double-layered round cake with an edible image on it of the Lord of the Rings movie cast inside the Ring. Heather airbrushed the sides a golden orange to make it match and did a twig-like border with leaves (some icing, some sugar) in place of the not-so-impressive dark blue border the original picture in the book had. Then she did the writing in brown to match the new border (I'd put light blue for the writing color on the original order, assuming I was going to have a dark blue border). It actually looked way better than the book's picture this way, and the twigs and leaves were very season-appropriate, plus the twigs gave that kind of fantasy-forest feel.

I also got a cupcake (which I meant to bring for lunch today but I forgot) from Tori (my department manager). It's one of our new "shavings" cupcakes that is filled with donut filling. They put white shavings on it and then decorated it with a cool candle (all twisty) and three of these Harry Potter rings we got in during the summer (cause of the Order of the Phoenix movie) -- one each of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. It was unexpected and yet cool that she thought of me, and even cooler that they (Heather was in on this too, obviously) remembered that I like Harry Potter. Of course, Heather knows this anyway so she probably came up with the idea, plus rings work really well for decorating cupcakes.

We had a bit of a tense atmosphere yesterday at work because the Health Department was supposed to show up for an inspection. We were more or less prepared, since we've been cleaning the department for this on and off since last Thursday, including a mondo cleaning day on Sunday when I was off. But then they NEVER CAME. Kind of a waste, all our efforts then. Heather said it would be worth it, the cleaning that is, even if they didn't come, cause she was able to clean at least some of the shelves above her decorating table, which did need to be done anyway. Actually, I think a lot of cleaning jobs around the department that never (or at least rarely) get done cause of our skeleton crew got done this weekend, like we cleaned these drains last Thursday that pretty much never get cleaned as far as I know.

I did do some work on my room on Sunday night, which basically consisted of picking up on the floor some and cleaning off my desktop. I also disconnected the old desktop computer that's been taking up space on my desk (after checking it to make sure there weren't things on there that shouldn't be on there when we get rid of it...using only the keyboard, I might add, since someone apparently took my mouse...using a desktop computer without a mouse is very tricky, let me tell ya...good thing I remembered some keyboard shortcuts) and got it out of the way. Once this was gone, there was enough space on my desk for my laptop, my little letter tray where I keep important papers, and my new printer (which is pretty small, but then I don't need anything that big). I haven't had a chance to hook the printer up yet, but I may do so tonight.

While working on my room, I listened to the first MuggleCast after their 12-hour live show (I'm gonna catch up on that later), and it was kinda funny since they were pretending Andrew Sims (the main host) was there, but you could totally tell it was just co-host Jamie Lawrence pretending to be Andrew. The slight accent in "Andrew's" voice was a dead giveaway (Jamie is a Brit). They also sorta made fun of newsman Micah Tannenbaum for having not seen the Order of the Phoenix movie yet.

I also worked on my thesis for World History Sunday night, since it's an online class and so work for it was not disturbed by the fires last week. I tried to post it yesterday morning, but the forum for it in the discussion board wasn't up yet, and then when I tried to post it after work, my computer was so slow I ended up posting it after the due time. Fortunately, I learned today that my teacher has extended the due date for the thesis to November 1st, so I am ok.

In fact, speaking of that class, the CD-ROM that came with my book got cracked recently, and so my computer won't read it, which is probably why I'm not getting full credit on my theses (I can't use sources from the CD-ROM like I'm supposed to). I finally got around to sending an e-mail out to all my fellow classmates (using the handy "Send E-Mail: All Student Users" feature on BlackBoard, where our class is hosted) the other night asking if I could make a copy of someone else's CD. This one gal responded within minutes, and I have been trying to stay in contact with her via e-mail. I e-mailed her this morning about possibly getting together today (short notice, I know, but I didn't read my e-mail today till right before Lit class), but she hasn't e-mailed back yet. So I am at campus still in case she decides to meet me here today. I still haven't gotten an e-mail from her yet. It's about 3:30 now, I'm gonna wait till 4 (the gal is supposed to have class here at 5) and if I don't hear from her, I'm gonna go home.

In my other classes, class work has had to be shifted due to school being closed last week cause of the fires. My midterm for Lit was shifted to today (was supposed to be last Tuesday) and fortunately I found this out enough in advance to prepare for the essay we had to write in-class for that. It took me almost all of the period, even with an outline, to write the essay, but I think I did well. The assignment that was supposed to be due in my U.S. history class last week (after a couple previous due date changes) had another due date change; it is now due this Thursday, BUT we now have the choice of either doing that one or skipping it and doing the next one, rather than having to do both. Not bad. I think I will probably go ahead and do this one since I printed out the information for it anyway. Also, our next test, which was scheduled for this Thursday, was postponed till the 8th (next Thursday).

I got a pleasant surprise for my birthday: the CD I ordered from Philosopherock, one of my favorite wizard rock bands, arrived a few days before my birthday, which was a nice treat. The CD is full of the band's usual "filk" songs (including some songs I've already heard via downloads from their site or their Myspace) and is called Hex Me Draco, One More Time (after one of the songs on it, a song by the same title spoofing the famous Britney song "Hit Me Baby, One More Time"). What songs the songs spoof vary; I can tell with some of them but not with others. Here's my guesses:

-Die, Die, Die : "Bye Bye Bye" by N*Sync
-Charms : No idea
-Eulogy, Book IV : "Skater Boy" by Avril Lavigne
-In My Cape : no idea
-Trapped in the Suburbs : no idea
-Eulogy, Book V : "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys
-Losing My Rememberall : no idea
-This Kiss : "This Kiss" by Faith Hill
-The Real Mad-Eye Moody : "The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem (according to someone on YouTube; I may need to confirm this)
-Hex Me Draco, One More Time : "...Baby One More Time" (sometimes called "Hit Me Baby One More Time") by Britney Spears
-Rita Skeeter : "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5
-Eulogy, Book VI : no idea
-Random Fandom : no idea

"Random Fandom" is just a ramble about the fandom in general but is very good; I also like "Trapped in the Suburbs" a lot out of the songs I hadn't heard prior to getting the CD.

Don't get me wrong, I am not becoming a wizard rock-obsessed maniac. I will most likely only order CD's for bands I really like. Right now there are only three I like that much: The Hermione Crookshanks Experience, Philosopherock, and DJ Luna Lovegood. I also like Harry and the Potters and Hollow Godric, but not as much (HaTP's song "Phoenix Tears" is very catchy, as is my favorite song of theirs right now, "Save Ginny Weasley," and Hollow Godric's Celtic, which is always a plus). The Hermione Crookshanks Experience posted some new songs recently on Myspace from her (it's one girl) new CD, How to Write With a Feather. I may order that CD, since her first one was sold out last I checked. And DJ Luna Lovegood has a new CD out called Yellowish, plus you can still order her (this band's one girl too) first CD.

Aside from Hex Me Draco, One More Time, I pre-ordered this CD Melissa from PotterCast has been pushing on said podcast called Jingle Spells. It's a Christmas CD featuring a lot of wizard rock bands, including (naturally) the grandfathers of wizard rock, the DeGeorge brothers (a.k.a. Harry and the Potters) and their friendly rivals Draco and the Malfoys, but also (yay) The Hermione Crookshanks Experience (singing a song about, I figure anyway, Hermione wanting one of Mrs. Weasley's sweaters, based on the preview I heard). I mainly pre-ordered it cause Melissa kept mentioning it (same reason I bought that Mugglenet "Book 7" book -- they kept promoting it on MuggleCast) but also cause the proceeds go to charity (Book Aid), and you can't beat that!

Okay it is now 4:10 as I write this.

Okay, no e-mail from that girl. And I'm tired and thirsty, so I'm gonna go home. I've gotta work on formulating my book review for World History into an actual paper, which involves sifting through all my notes. Oh I better go check out the book again before I forget. Oh good, it's not checked out. That's good (I figured someone else might be doing the same book and have it checked out). There's a part of my essay I can't really do cause I was having trouble finding stuff on it but may find stuff in this book I ordered on Saturday from the Barnes and Noble at my work. I assume, since it was supposed to take 3-4 days to come in, it will likely be in by today or tomorrow. I hate to have to buy a book, but I'm desperate.

All right, bye for now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big decisions, big problems...c'est la vie?

I haven't written in a while, cause usually I only write in my blog when there's something to write about, and there hasn't been anything to write about lately. Plus, I have been really busy with work lately.

The problem with Stater Bros. is that they make your hours so that, no matter whether you work part time (like some of the courtesy clerks who are still in high school) or full time (pretty much everyone else), you have pretty much no life outside of work. Somehow this seems very tyrannical to me. They have no right to not let you have a life! Example: On work days where I work a full shift (which is typical), I am home for an hour and a half or so in the morning, then I hop on a bus (except on Sundays, when I can't), head to the closest bus station, and get on another bus -- an express -- to go to the nearby shopping mall, where I catch one more bus to get to work. This whole bus trip takes an hour and a half, actually more like 2 hours if you count waiting time between buses. Then I usually have an hour to grab something to eat so I'm not starving by the time my lunch comes later in the afternoon and sit and read while I eat, and then I start. I have lunch, as I said, later in the afternoon (around 4 hours into my 8-hour shift) and other than that no breaks usually -- not that I am not entitled to breaks, it's just that we are so understaffed I am usually so busy with the work I am given I do not have time to take any breaks. Then after lunch I go back to work, get off usually around 9--usually not later than 9:30 cause that's all the overtime they'll usually begrudge me--get picked up around 9:30 (if I get off on time) and get home about 10:00, after which I usually end up spending an hour or so doing stuff on my computer that I didn't have time for in the morning or doing homework. Usually I eat dinner too. Then I get to bed usually between 11pm and 1am, depending on what I'm doing.

Therefore, as you can see, I have very little time for anything else. The only days I get off lately are Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I have school those days. On those days, I wake up early to catch the bus at around 7:30am, get to school (after transferring to another bus) around 8:25, go to my Lit class at 9:00 (where we're reading a rather disturbing novel called White Teeth), and then have some free time before my next class at 1pm, during which I usually have lunch and do homework or other stuff. Then at 1pm I go to U.S. History, where I usually hide in the back behind my laptop, taking notes while also doing other stuff, like checking e-mail or something. Then I usually go home, or sometimes I run errands or something, or stay late at school to do stuff.

Things have been somewhat eventful. I lost my wallet a few weeks back. It was very frightening. I've had to replace everything, and have done so except for my California ID, since I haven't had a chance to go to the DMV yet. I was without a debit card for about a week and had to be careful with money. Fortunately, my paychecks are direct depositing right now so I ended up with quite a surprising amount of money in my checking account since I wasn't spending much.

I have some big decisions facing me. One is about health insurance. I am eligible for it through my work, and I sort of have to go with that for now even though I am trying to find another job through the eCareer Fair our Career Center is doing through MonsterTrak (a job search site), because I will become too old to be eligible for my parents' health insurance later this month when I turn 23. I finally looked over the stuff one morning (I forget which day -- the last week has been a blur) and talked to my dad about it, saying I wanted his and Mum's help when I fill out the forms, since health insurance is completely baffling and alien to me (heck, so is taxes -- I have yet to do my own tax brother got to learn how in Consumer Math his senior year of high school...lucky!). I am planning to do that tonight, sometime before 8pm when their favorite lineup of TV shows comes on (Beauty and the Geek, House, and Boston Legal, which air in that order, at 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm, on 3 different channels -- The CW, Fox, and ABC, to be exact). Work this last week was just awful. I was scheduled all 5pm-9pm the entire week (except for my off days, obviously) cause we were supposed to be getting some new people (finally). But only one of the new people bothered to show up, and she was working nights anyway, so that schedule essentially got thrown out the window, and I had to come in early every day of the week except Wednesday, the only day I actually worked 5-9. And the new person who showed up was this lady named Michelle who used to work in the service deli at the Stater Bros. I work at but got transferred to another store. The only problem is she tends to socialize too much on the clock (mostly with old deli cronies), which makes me irritated especially if I need racks and she's packaging, and she knows nothing about bakery, and plus she gripes and complains about anything and everything. Now, I admit I do complain sometimes, but not nearly as much as her. I guess it's true what they say, that often we see how big our faults are when we see them in another person. It's like, I never realize how I can be so talkative until I talk to Tammy and barely get a word in. Likewise, I never really notice how much I complain until I see Michelle complain more.

This week, I'm back to normal schedule (12-9 all the time), which is (strangely) somewhat of a relief, I guess because it's something I can predict, whereas the scheduling last week was a complete disaster. Imagine sitting in your PJ's, minding your own business, at 10:30am, thinking you don't have to leave for a few hours, and getting a call from work asking if you can come in early that day. Talk about last-minute notice!

So anyway, that was my work problem. I want to start at a Cal State next fall, so, for some odd reason, I have to apply now. I guess this is so I have something started before I fill out the FAFSA in January (which is when I think you're supposed to do it -- I suppose if I get accepted they'll tell me). I am trying to narrow it down. I think I have basically ruled out SDSU, mainly cause of distance (it's near downtown San Diego) but also because out of the majors I had been interested in and made a list of, I found I was only really into 2 majors: English (which was, oddly, my choice of major my 1st semester of 12th grade, before whatever ruined my sense of major -- I always blame senioritis -- hit) and French. Unfortunately, English is impacted, which is not good. What "impacted" means is that the program is so dang popular that, in order to prevent overcrowding, they only accept a limited number of students into the aforesaid program. And you can try to get in, but it is really difficult because there are a lot of other people competing for those limited spots. It's not always worth the trouble. And as for French, looking at the required classes, it seemed more appealing as a minor than a major. (It's hard to major in a foreign language anyway, cause what could you do with that sort of major? It's like my classmate Steven Sharif who wanted to be a lawyer and said for the survey that was done of the seniors for the book the juniors made for us to give to us at Junior/Senior Banquet that he wanted to major in International Business and French...first of all, a double major is REALLY hard to pull off, or so I hear anyway, and like I said, what do you do with a foreign language major?).

So I turned to the closer (and more appealing) of the two Cal States in my area, Cal State San Marcos. I had narrowed majors down there before to Literature and Writing Studies (formerly English) and History. Now the first of these was of more interest to me, especially since they have a writing "emphasis" for it, which focuses on creative writing (as I found upon further investigation). Since I want to be an author ultimately, this is right up my alley. So I am thinking of going for that. Unlike English at SDSU, it's not impacted, and while there's not lots of prerequisites listed on ASSIST (the official transfer site for California colleges) that can be fulfilled at my school, I already took one of the classes -- Critical Thinking, Composition, and Literature, a.k.a. English 201 -- as part of the requirements for the IGETC (Inter-Segmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) track, which lines up classes you can take to fulfill GE requirements that will definitely transfer to any UC or Cal State. And out of the list of Lit classes to take (where you pick one), I am taking one of them right now (Intro to Literature). So I may be able to bypass a lot of GE stuff, which will be helpful cause it saves money.

I thought also about doing a minor. CSUSM has a minor in French (and no major, strangely enough) and the coursework looks pretty basic (but then coursework for minors is always less complicated than coursework for majors). Either that or Film Studies, since I have an interest in film. I will have to look into it, and I also feel compelled to pray about it too, even though I haven't prayed seriously in a while, haven't been able to go to church in a while either thanks to my work schedule, and have even fallen off my pattern for daily Bible reading and devotions (I had to catch up on 10 days' reading one day last week).

On my way out of the cafeteria this morning I saw a sign for a website called It was supposedly a site to help you find a major. So this afternoon, I decided to check it out. I made a profile, the setup of which involved several self-examining profiles, including one where you picked from characteristics labeled by words like Creative and Enterprising, which I recognized from taking the Holland Code Test during my Intro to Career Planning class. Like the Myers-Briggs, the Holland Code Test is a professionally-created personality "inventory" designed to connect personality traits to a career.

Anyway, one of the pages on that site linked to this video on YouTube of this guy who was the founder of Apple and Pixar Animation giving a speech at the 2005 Commencement of Stanford University. It's pretty inspiring. You can watch it here:

Well I better go. I'd like to get home with some time to go over that insurance stuff. Bye!