Saturday, December 27, 2008

A lot of catching up

Wow! I haven't written in here since Thanksgiving! Sheesh!

Well, this is probably cause shortly after Thanksgiving not much happened. I worked, and I also had to prep for finals. That kept me busy.

Let's see...what else happened? Well, finals. I only had four but it still was a good deal of work. There was a lot to remember. Plus I had my stupid paper for Lit to finish. Fortunately, somebody in my Lit class got the bright idea of splitting up the final exam study guide among all the members of the class, so each of us did a little bit, and then after we all did our bits she sent us all the complete study guide. This helped a good deal. I think this girl probably got the idea from how everyone was comparing study guides for the midterm right before class, trying to get answers they hadn't been able to find, or better answers for questions they had answers to.

Oh and also in early December my group for Bio had to give our presentation. I think it went well. We needed the points, given our bad quiz record.

Since finals, I have been working primarily. Oh and I joined the forum for the Pokemon podcast I've been listening to, now re-named The Pallet Tribune (apparently due to some copyright thing -- they never really explained it).

Oh speaking of work my position has been changed somewhat. I am now a floor GMC rather than bakery. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do much GMC work due to having to help bag a lot. I don't see how this can be helped, but Peter (the GMC who they told to show me how to do GMC stuff) isn't happy about it. I suppose more experience would've helped for times like Christmas Eve when I had to go stock beer by myself. I have had to face beer and stuff before, but since we had sold a lot of beer that day there was a lot of stocking to do, and the beer room (a refrigerated walk-in case) is cold. Plus, people were getting beer while I was stocking, making my job even harder.

Hmm just checked my fall grades. A- in History and Lit, an A in French, and a C+ in Bio. I'm not happy about the C in Bio -- I would've rather had a B than a C -- at least I passed. And my cumulative term GPA -- cumulative of my enrolled classes and my transferred units -- is 3.152, which means I still have a B average. That Bio class was hard though, seriously. Those quizzes and tests -- I'd be surprised if anybody did really well in that class, unless they were science majors. It's ridiculous to make that class a GE class. But at least I got an A- in Lit, which was a 400-level class, and an A- in History, in which I bombed the midterm. The French grade is not as high as I expected (given my track record with French classes, I expected an A+), considering I aced every test I know the grade of, did all the workbook stuff (which was extra credit), and did well on the other assignments. But oh well. Also, I just checked WebCT and there were no grades posted for that class, despite the fact I had a final grade posted on MyCSUSM. So maybe it will change? Hard to say.

The Sunday before Christmas, the shelf above my desk fell off the wall, landing on my open computer. The screen display was subsequently messed up, and according to people more knowledgable than I in these matters, the screen is cracked. Therefore, I have not been able to use my computer since then (I'm using my mom's computer right now). I am currently trying to see whether I can get it repaired or if it will be cheaper to get a new computer. Even though I just got paid today, I don't have a ton of funds in either of my accounts, since I had to take over $700 out of my savings account to pay off my current computer, which I had purchased on credit and missed a couple bills on (which isn't good for my credit, my parents say). Strangely enough, I only paid $600 and something for the thing in the first place. I think cause of late fees and the 30% interest on the credit, the amount got bigger.

Anyway, I called this place called Data Doctors, and they called me back and told me the screen was broken and referred me to another place called Laptops Plus. I called that place this morning, and they said they would have to look at the screen before they could tell me what it would cost to replace, since screens are often made by different companies than computers are. Then they would do a diagnostic ($85), the money for which would go toward the labor, which the guy said would take about 30 minutes. Mum still wants Papa to go with me, since she thinks the guys at Laptops Plus are crooks. So I will have to go soon, while Papa is still on vacation. Maybe on my next day off.

My Aunt Jane was supposed to come for Christmas, something we found out a few days beforehand. But then she had some chest pains on December 23rd, was hospitalized, and was thus unable to come out. My dad drove to Vegas (where she lives) to be with her and drove back in time for Christmas. She is out of the hospital now.

Christmas morning finally came. I got a lot of presents, way more than I actually bought (I always buy 4 presents each for my mom, my dad, and my brother -- I figure each person having an equal amount of presents is fair). But I did get almost everything I'd put on the list I gave my parents, and some other things besides. I got:

~Prince Caspian DS game
~Princess Peach DS Character Stylus
~ESV Study Bible
~Cinema Sweets lip balm set
~Wireless headphones with transmitter
~Prince Caspian DVD
~2 jackets
~1 pair of jeans
~David Cook CD, by David Cook
~John Adams DVD set
~The Freedom Writers' Diary (book)
~Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (book)
~Loving God with All Your Mind (book)
~Mythbusters: The Explosive Truth Behind 30 of the Most Perplexing Urban Legends of All Time (book)
~Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg (book)

Plus I got miscellaneous candy in my stocking, including 4 packs of Mentos, as well as (ironically) Aquafresh toothpaste and a Crest SpinBrush toothbrush. Also, I got the traditional stocking stuffer - a Life Savers Sweet Storybook (my brother's traditional stocking stuffer is a Chocolate Orange).

In addition to this stuff from my family, I got a 2-disc Pokemon Diamond and Pearl DVD set and a DVD of Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai (the most recently-released-in-America Pokemon movie) from Amy (as a thanks for me sending her presents, I think, but anyway - yay!) and a copy of the DS game Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (the new game in the Ranger series) from my "Secret Santa" in the deli-bakery "Secret Santa," Chase from the service deli. (double yay!) Actually, Chase totally gave himself away - bad boy! I mean, I guess you might have to ask questions to find out what the person you get for Secret Santa might like, but don't ask the actual person for goodness sake! Still, I am happy he got it for me, and I have been playing it for a few days now. I am now (as of today) at Ranger Rank 3. In my case, I got Juan from the bakery, and I got him a Walmart gift card, which he was happy about.

Apparently, however, over the holidays, I caught a bug, because right before I went to bed Christmas night, my stomach felt weird. I took an antacid. But this didn't do much, as my stomach still felt bad. I didn't sleep well, and at around 1:30 am on the 26th, I threw up. I spent some time cleaning up the bathroom (and my bedroom door and the nearby wall, which got the first bit of the throwup, from before I reached the bathroom) then went back to bed. I put a trashbag by my bed, should I throw up again.

And I did - around 5:30am. It wasn't as bad as the first time, though. But I found it strange that I had thrown up again.

When I got up at 6:45 (since I was supposed to work that day but wasn't sure when), I wasn't sure I should go to work, and Mum told me to take a shower and then call work to see when I was supposed to be at work. I called after 7am (when the store I'm at now opens) and found out I was to be in at 11. But even after the shower I threw up once, and long story short -- I called in sick. I spent the day lying down, and threw up a couple more times during the day. I also slept a lot. I was able to hold down some ginger ale in the evening though, and today (my day off this weekend) I feel better, aside from an aching head and back. I actually ate some food today too, and haven't thrown up since last night. I think I can go to work tomorrow and be fine. I'll just have to watch what I eat perhaps. I'll make my own lunch.

Today I was well enough to not lie down so much, but my aching head and nervousness about taking any pills made me sit around a lot. I alternated between reading and playing my new Ranger game.

And that's the catchup report. Nothing else really to say. Bye.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gattaca, transferred (AGAIN), the awful truth about coworkers, burned out

This week, being that there is no class cause of Thanksgiving (which is actually today -- HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE), my bio teacher made arrangements to stream the movie Gattaca for us over WebCT, the service which manages all online class content for CSUSM. I just finished watching it. I've seen it before, but I re-watched it anyways. I watched it a while back, I think for a class. Or it might have been because Tammy told me I should see it. I can't remember exactly. It was one of those two things.

Gattaca (whose name, cleverly, consists only of the letters - G, C, T, and A -- used to designate the four base pairs in DNA) is a movie which stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Set in the "not-too-distant future," it shows a world where genetics has become everything. Your genetics determine your fate, including what job you are allowed to take. Most people choose to consult a genetic counselor before having a child, in order to assure it has the best chances possible. But there are a few people who choose to give birth without any genetic manipulation, but this is not recommended, and the births are pejoratively called "faith births" or "God births." Those born this way are deemed unfit for most aspects of normal societies and are labeled, literally, as "in-valid."

Vincent Freeman (Hawke's character) is one such "in-valid." Since his parents decided to do the typical genetic manipulation with their second child, he's had to deal with his genetically perfect brother Anton all his life. Despite his chances of life in the "elite" society being slim, Vincent dreams of going to space. His parents tell him with the heart condition he has (which was predicted at birth via a blood test from his foot), the agency sending people into space -- Gattaca -- would never take him.

Vincent is determined, however, and after much training and studying, he realizes none of that will matter; his genetics will stop his chances. So he decides to take drastic action. He contacts a man he hears about through word of mouth (played by Tony Shalhoub, now famous for the show Monk), who hooks him up with a wheelchair-bound former professional swimmer named Jerome Morrow (played by Jude Law). Genetically, Jerome is perfect -- exactly the kind of person that could attain what Vincent dreams of. But Jerome naturally can't take his usual place in society due to the accident that put him in a wheelchair. So, he agrees to help Vincent out by allowing Vincent to take on his identity. He provides him with blood and urine samples, as well as other genetics-related material for any genetic tests Vincent may have to take.

The plan works, and Vincent (now Jerome) gets hired at Gattaca (on the basis of a simple gene test, no less, with no "traditional" interview) and over time gets into the elite ranks. The movie (after the flashbacks) starts one week before Vincent/Jerome, a space navigator, is to fly on a 1-year manned mission to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. At the beginning of the week, though, one of Gattaca's mission directors -- one who had opposed the Titan mission -- is found dead. Vincent/Jerome, who passes by the crowd of spectators by the director's office, accidentially leaves an eyelash behind on the windowsill.

The murder is, naturally, investigated. The eyelash is found, and comes up with Vincent's "in-valid" profile. This leads the cops to search for an in-valid who might have committed the crime, not believing Vincent is still alive (since he was predicted at birth to only live 30 years).

Meanwhile, Vincent/Jerome makes the acquaintance of fellow Gattaca worker Irene (Thurman). She tells him she isn't quite genetically perfect; like the real Vincent, she too has a heart condition. The post of Vincent's face on a company-wide bulletin leads him to consider abandoning his contract with the real Jerome, but the real Jerome talks him out of it. After a surprise police investigation at a party Vincent/Jerome and Irene attend, they run out the back door, and hear one of the cops calling "Vincent."

Evidence from a mint tin leads the cop (really Vincent's brother Anton) to associate Irene with Jerome. Irene sees Anton coming and secretly warns Vincent/Jerome, who is just coming into work, telling him he looks sick and should go home. However, Anton confronts Irene and demands that she take him to Jerome's house. Fortunately, Vincent/Jerome catches on and informs the real Jerome, who struggles out of his wheelchair, up the stairs, and into a chair to distract Irene and Anton. Anton does a blood test, and when it comes up with Jerome's profile (the same one Vincent/Jerome's blood sample came up as), he smells a rat. Once Anton leaves, Vincent/Jerome comes out of hiding just as Irene is leaving and addresses the real Jerome as Jerome (he had been calling him Eugene, to maintain their ruse), to which the real Jerome addresses Vincent/Jerome, also as Jerome.

Irene rushes out, and Vincent/Jerome runs after her and tells her his real name, that he is a "faith birth," and that he too has a heart condition. She can't quite take this and leaves.

Meanwhile, Anton arrives at Gattaca, having been contacted by his partner, to find that the partner has found the murder culprit -- the main director of Gattaca. It turns out the mysterious "in-valid" -- Vincent -- had nothing to do with it. Anton is annoyed at this turn of events.

Vincent/Jerome and the real Jerome discuss events, and Vincent/Jerome says he has to go see the cop. The two meet at Gattaca, and acknowledge each other. Anton tries to tell Vincent he will be in real trouble for fraud. Vincent tells Anton that he doesn't need Anton to save him -- but reminds him that he saved Anton's life once (this refers to one of the childhood flashbacks, which shows the boys racing at swimming as far out in the ocean as they dare, and Vincent having to save Anton from drowning once). They go out to the ocean to prove themselves to each other in another match of swimming. Anton begins to get scared when they can't see the land anymore, but Vincent tells him to keep going, saying he didn't save anything for the swim back. Eventually, Anton loses strength and Vincent has to rescue him again.

The day of Vincent's launch arrives. Before he leaves home, the real Jerome takes him to a room with multiple fridges, filled with enough urine, blood, and other samples to last him two lifetimes. When Vincent protests that he doesn't need samples in space, Jerome says he might need them when he gets back. Vincent asks Jerome where he's going, but Jerome only says, "I'm traveling too." He gives Vincent a card to open when he gets "upstairs."

Vincent heads down a hallway to enter the spaceship, and is stopped by his usual doctor for a random urine test. He purposely fills the cup with his own urine rather than one of Jerome's urine samples, and thereby reveals his real identity to the doctor. The doctor is surprised, but does nothing but say, "You're going to miss your flight, Vincent."

Vincent boards the spaceship. As it takes off, he opens Jerome's card and finds a lock of hair. Meanwhile, as Vincent boards, we see Jerome climb into the chamber where Vincent scraped off his extra skin, hair, fingernails, and the like and burned them nightly. Donning his second-place swimming metal, Jerome reaches out of the door and hits the switch to start the chamber burning. All we see is fire inside the door, and an empty wheelchair sitting outside.

The movie closes with Vincent saying in voice-over that he feels a little sad leaving Earth, even though he was someone "not meant for this world." Then, he says, since all the atoms in our body are said to have once been in stars, maybe he's not leaving after all -- maybe he's going home.


I wonder what life would be like if our future was like the one in Gattaca. Granted, a recent law passed by President Bush -- GINA, or the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act -- would prevent discrimination on the basis of genetic information. But in the future that might not matter. In Gattaca, Vincent mentions that it is against the law to discriminate based on genes, but that nobody really follows that law.

In my Biological Anthropology class, they taught us that only 1% of our genes differentiates us from everybody else on the planet. And according to the oft-mentioned studies, about that much makes us different from chimpanizees genetically. Actually apparently we are genetically similar to dogs, fruit flies, and even yeast -- to name a few.

Naturally, this genetic similarity to other species would seem to support the traditional Darwinian view, which suggests that all species had a common origin -- a pool of slime that existed somewhere around the dawn of time.

But humans are different than animals in some ways. In the rather boring book I had to read for history class -- The Wretched of the Earth -- they mention that having a cortex in our brains is a distinctively human thing; other rational animals lack the cortex and operate mainly from their diencephalon. Thus, when those who theorized that Algerians were savage stated that Algerians had no cortex, they were suggesting that they were nothing more than animals. The cortex, or cerebral cortex as it is commonly known, plays a role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. These are things that are commonly thought as making humans human. Animals are not self-aware or self-conscious; they don't necessarily have thought processes as we define them, either. You might say they have language because animals do communicate -- often in very interesting ways too. And certain animals would have to have attention to, say, track down prey. I argue some animals have memory because a squirrel, for instance, can bury a nut under a tree before hibernating, and then find it again in the spring. But none of these are quite on par with what humans have. Unlike in fairy tales and children's stories, animals don't actually talk or act human-like.

As a believer in creation, I find this genetic similarity thing hard to swallow. Does the 1% difference mean, as evolution suggests, that we came from another species, or does the 1% difference mean that we are all unique in our own way, even if we are similar in many others?

The verse Psalms 139:14 comes to mind: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (NIV). I have believed that verse for a long time. The verses that follow it in the passage suggest that God knew us in the womb, and that all our days were written down before we were even born. I still believe that.

Being of childbearing age, I know I will have decisions to make on this issue sometime in the near future most likely. It's one thing if you take preventive genetic tests to see if you could pass on a disease, for instance. I myself am considering getting tested for cystic fibrosis, since my frequent respiratory problems could be signs of mild CF expression, and also as a white person my chances are 1 in 23 of having the gene. And based on the talk one of the project groups in my bio class did on autism, that's highly genetic as well, so I might want to find out about that.

But even my bio teacher has talked about how people could very easily manipulate genetics to their own ends. It would be scary.


Well on to less complicated topics. Anyway, as you can see in the title, I got transferred again. No real reason given, it just happened. I was informed of the fact last Friday, and on Monday I was at the new store. The new store is #157, the "Santa Fe" store. On the bright side, it is closer to my house than Encinitas, and as a lower-volume store it's not as busy. But it did stink to leave my friends at Encinitas, and as this was my second transfer since I've been with Stater Bros., I was worried that I had done something wrong.

So I started on Monday. I am working with Sandra again, who got sent back there from Encinitas. It does seem like it is easier to get work done, though I am still not totally familar with everything. The first night, I didn't put the respective breakout items in the right place and I ran out of time to mop the floor. The second day (yesterday), I accidentially forgot to clock in for work and didn't realize till I'd gone back in my department and started icing cinnamon rolls -- which meant it was off-the-clock work, which is a big no-no. I did go and clock in as soon as I realized, but I had to embarrassingly confess it to the store manager (I told him since I figure a timeclock change was needed, and based on experiences at Encinitas where I needed a timeclock change, I figured only the store manager had access to that), and he didn't seem happy, and then he had to go and tell me I had the wrong type of shoes for work on top of it, even though the shoes I was wearing I have worn to work for a long time without being told by anybody that they were wrong. So now I have to get new shoes, which I was going to do today except that Mum rather curtly reminded me nothing would be open today cause of the holiday. She suggested we go early tomorrow before I have to work (since lots of stores are open early thanks to Black Friday sales) but I didn't want to do that, saying I wanted the bus time to try to get my reading for school done. So I've decided to go on Sunday, which I also have off (yay!), and if Augie (the store manager) asks, I'll tell him I couldn't get them before Friday because nothing was open today. Hopefully, he'll accept that.

I will have to walk to the stores on Monday, but oh well. I want to do Christmas shopping for Amy and her family anyway. Actually, I already bought Amy's present on Tuesday after school. But I want to buy stuff for Jesse (her husband) and her two children. Arielle, her new daughter, likes things that play music, and Kevin, her son, loves Pokemon, so I should be able to get something for them easily. Jesse she said likes books, movies, video games, etc, so he might be harder to shop for. Plus, I don't know him very well. It's one thing when you're shopping for kids. Kids aren't as picky about gifts. People Jesse's age are. I don't want to get him a video game cause I can't remember what systems he has. As for books and movies, I don't know his preferences either. I suppose I could ballpark it. I hate to do that, but I don't know what else to do.

Speaking of presents, Sandra invited me to participate in a Secret Santa drawing between us and the deli department. I got Juan, the one lone guy in bakery, who I just met yesterday. I have no idea what to get him so I will have to ask Andrew (who's home for the holiday) what guys his age like (since Juan is 18). I have a feeling that Chase, the deli assistant manager and the lone guy over there, got me cause he was asking if there were video games coming out that I wanted (he probably heard that I like video games from Sandra, cause Sandra knows since she caught me playing my DS in the breakroom one day at Encinitas). I did check the "Game Forecast" in the recent issue of Nintendo Power that I bought, but nothing that's coming out for DS before Christmas looked interesting to me.


Yesterday, the same day I embarrassed myself by doing off-the-clock work and having Augie tell me my shoes were wrong, Sandra started telling me, unsolicited, that there were people at Encinitas, including the store manager, who wanted her out of there. This was already an awkward discussion, but then the focus turned to me. Sandra told me point-blank that she had had to fight to keep me in her department. I thought this related to her trying to get me working back in the department rather than sampling, so I explained how the sampling thing came about -- that Jennifer, our store assistant manager before Joe Bravo, decided we should have a sample person out there who knew the product and figured I'd be a good candidate, and that after that Diana Kelly (one of the district supervisors) took up the idea. But Sandra had to go and elaborate.

Apparently, there are people who wanted ME out too, including PATRICIA, of all people, who I really love and have missed greatly since she was transferred to the Jefferson store (#151). Sandra told me Patricia's one of those people who is nice to your face but stabs you in the back when you're not around.

I admit I was in shock. I remember my eyes going wide when I heard Patricia's name. My eyes usually go wide in the same fashion as other people's eyebrows raise -- out of shock or surprise.

I tried to take it calmly. I said, "Well, you think you know people" and then, a little later, I vocalized a thought. I said, "I wonder, what is it about me that makes people think they have to talk bad about me behind my back?"

I don't think Sandra answered, or if she did, I don't recall what she said. When I told my parents later, they said that I reacted very maturely.

Do I want to know, from the lips of these supposed backstabbers, their reason for their feelings against me? Sure. But the only way I could find out this information accurately is to ask them directly, and that would be very uncomfortable.

Why would I be so unliked? I don't think it's my faith; to be honest, I'm not very vocal about it, even at work. I'm not the type who tries to save every lost soul they see. In fact, I'm not sure how to witness at all.

Is it something about how I work? Generally, I don't complain too much; I usually save my complaints for my parents after work, for this blog, and occasionally for a few trusted coworkers to whom I feel I can vent at safe times. The only times other than these that I might complain badly is if I get visibly stressed or lose my composure, which does sadly, happen sometimes.

Katie told me before I left I shouldn't focus so much on the details of other people, such as their schedules (this rose from a misunderstanding regarding something I said that came off wrong). Initially, although I apologized to Katie, I felt that my natural extreme curiosity just lead me to focus on such things. Now I wonder.

Sandra said people wanted her to get rid of Joseph too. Impulsively, I told her she would be stupid if she did that. Maybe "stupid" is too strong a word, but she didn't take it badly. It's true though; Joseph has been with Stater Bros. for 8 years and is probably the best worker they have back in that bakery. He works really hard and is definitely dedicated; until he took vacation recently, he hadn't been on vacation in 4 years. Only recently has he been getting decent shifts and not closing all the time (his seniority deserves it), although he is an excellent closer. He's overall a nice guy, too, and I got the impression that he was well-liked. He seems easy-going, though I've noticed he stutters sometimes when he's nervous. I have told female co-workers that I can't understand why he doesn't have a girlfriend (he's in his 30's, someone told me, and I know from Joseph himself that he lives with his mother), because I think any girl would be lucky to have him. Come to think of it, why is it that the easy-going Average Joe (no pun intended) never seems to be able to get a girlfriend, while all the non-decent jerks do? Actually, it's that way with girls too -- normal, boring girls, girls like me who aren't obsessed with fashion, makeup, and drooling over say, the Jonas Brothers (or, to use a personal example, supposedly cute guys who run rides at Disneyland) don't seem to get guys as easily, whereas the pretty, popular girls do. It's odd, there are people and groups that fight against females being perceived as mere objects, and yet women are obsessed with being perfectly thin, overly pretty, and eternally young (just think about the number of anti-aging products you see ads for). In a way, they are unconsciously asking to be perceived as objects, perceived the way guys' visual-propelled instincts push them to perceive women.

The traditional marriage service says that marriage exists for three reasons: for the procreation of children; as a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; and for the mutual society, help, and comfort of each other in prosperity and adversity. Affairs and the breakup of marriages when hard times hit show that people don't follow the last two. But children people seem to care about; a couple on the verge of divorce will often try to save the marriage for the children's sake. So apparently some people marry to have children.

Sorry, I know the above was random; I am writing off the top of my head at this point.

Anyway, I wish I knew exactly what people didn't like about me at work, but I am afraid to ask them, and they would likely be ashamed to admit it anyway.


On other notes, I traded in three of my DS games that I decided I didn't want anymore -- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Totally Spies! 2: Undercover and Code Lyoko (or, as it's sometimes known, Code Lyoko: Get Ready to Virtualize). I ended up buying the newer Code Lyoko DS game, Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. It's based on season four and looks a lot more interesting.

So, the DS games I currently own are: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (which I'm still trying to beat the bonus case on), Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Pokémon Pearl, Pokémon Ranger, Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, and Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. I figured the less games I have, the more likely I will play them all to the end. I do still want to buy the Pokémon Ranger sequel that just came out, and there's a few games I saw reviewed or featured in the recent issue of Nintendo Power I bought, including a sequel to Rune Factory, that I am interested in getting. Right now, I am post-game in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Pokémon Pearl. Rune Factory I recently decided to play again but I restarted the game because that game is really hard to pick up where you left off after a long absence. Today I restarted mine cause I couldn't get the sickle from Rosetta, and then I went online and found out you have to till 50 tiles of land in your field first before she'll give it to you. So I did.

Plans for the rest of the weekend: on Sunday, church (double yay!) and then shopping. Tomorrow and Saturday I have to work. But I did finish that boring history book (well, the content was all right, but the essays were really long and couldn't keep my attention), so now I am on to the novel for lit, which looks like it might be more interesting. I finished my slide for the bio project PowerPoint today, wrote my notecards from it, and sent the edited PowerPoint to Meiling, the girl who's going to put everything together in regards to the PowerPoint. So that's basically done. But I have to turn my attention to my huge lit project now, and I'm totally lost. I sent an edited thesis and intro for my critical analysis and an edited first part of my paper (the part we previously turned in) to my teacher via e-mail and am awaiting her advice. I also went through my OneNote notes for the project and discarded into "Unfiled Notes" any notes that didn't look useful, and tagged (with a star) the ones I'd already cited from or which looked useful. Hopefully, that will help. If anything, I can at least write the critical reception part and start compiling my final bibliography, which will go between the critical reception and critical analysis section.

I'm going to end with a positive "girl power" image from the scanalations of volumes 5 and 6 of the original Cardcaptor Sakura manga that I read today, but which I haven't been able to buy yet in print. (Dialogue is from right to left). It features Mizuki-sensei helping Sakura during the Last Judgment using the Moon Bell.



Aside from the cool "girl power" factor, I love the art (especially of the bell itself) and the act itself (in the anime, Mizuki-sensei's bell only gave Sakura a second chance at the Last Judgment -- it didn't change her wand like it ends up doing in the manga). Good night!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Magic Knight Rayearth OVA, I caught Salamence (FINALLY), career thoughts, etc.

Last night, I was bored and so on a whim I decided to search out a place to watch some anime, and decided on the OVA (Original Video Animation) for Magic Knight Rayearth, one of my favorite anime series. It consists of 3 episodes and was released independently of the Magic Knight Rayearth manga and TV series. I found a site where you could stream it, and sat back to watch.

The OVA was certainly interesting. Its characters are all part of the existing MKR canon, but the setting and story are different. In the OVA, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu already know each other and even go to the same school. Hikaru is no longer a kendo practicer and is instead head of the gymnastics club. Umi is the captain of some team, as in the original anime, but not fencing -- tennis this time. Fuu plays the piano. They all look slightly different too artistically -- well and also they are older; in the OVA they are a week away from graduating junior high, and junior high ends with 9th grade in Japan. In the main series they were all in 8th grade (and Hikaru was considerably shorter; in the OVA she's as tall as Umi and Fuu).

The storyline is that Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu made a promise under a certain cherry tree at the school that they would be friends forever. The cherry tree is said to have a fairy in it that will grant wishes it hears made under its tree. However, now that they are graduating, they are going to be separated -- Umi is going to a school somewhere else in Japan, and Fuu's father is being transferred to some other country for work. Hikaru, saddened by this, goes to stand under the cherry tree, and a creature (Mokona from the main series) falls out of the tree. Hikaru is excited that the cherry blossom fairy is real, but when she tells Umi and Fuu, they don't believe her.

Meanwhile, as these girls have their problems, a greater problem is on the way. Emeraude (the same Emeraude of Cephiro from the series, except here she resembles the older-looking "evil Emeraude" form she took on after the girls killed Zagato) is lost in a dream-like state of a time when her love, Zagato, was still alive. For whatever reason, just like in the original series, they can't be together (I think the reason in the OVA is that humans and spirits couldn't be together romantically; meaning one of them was a spirit). Zagato was killed as part of a ritual to save Cephiro, which is in peril because the number of its protective spirits has declined over time, causing the land to become a rocky wasteland. Anyway, Emeraude has made some wish which involves moving her castle to modern-day Tokyo, an act which will ultimately destroy our world. Her brother, Eagle (probably based on Eagle Vision of Autozam from season 2), is the primary person ensuring that Emeraude's wish is fulfilled. Meanwhile, great sorcerers of Cephiro have gathered in Tokyo for some sort of "divine test": Alycone (remember her? Zagato's ice-using minion?), Ascot (that little kid beast-summoner), and even Ferio (who in the OVA is apparently not Emeraude's brother). They all use animal "familiars" - Alycone has a cat that resembles an evil-looking, black-colored Glameow; Ascot has some beast of sorts (I think); and Ferio has an army of mechanized-looking insects. All three of them can turn these familiars into huge mechas called "deities." Ascot's looks like a lobster for some reason. Ferio's is insect-like, and I can't remember what Alycone's looks like but it's pretty scary and powerful.

So anyway, the only people who can stop these invaders are, apparently, those who inherit the "orbs" that will awaken the three Mashin (or "gods") that sleep within the Earth, and -- true to the original -- Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are these people. Once again, they are helped by Clef, who is one of the few Cephiro residents actually opposing the invasion. Clef is significantly more older-looking in the OVA, though his general design (and even his magic staff) are pretty much the same. Also joining the resistance is Lantis, Zagato's brother. He actually has a spirit familiar too (some sort of dog or wolf, I believe) and he's also the best swordsman in Cephiro. He comes to Hikaru's rescue after she gets knocked unconscious after the fight with Alycone, and later, with the help of Ferio, assists the girls in the end.

The Mashin are similar to the TV series but are designed very differently, almost like EVAs but with animal attributes. They also are located on Earth instead of in Cephiro for some reason. Umi and Fuu's Mashin keep their original names, Selece and Windam. Hikaru's, on the other hand, is now named Lexus instead of Rayearth (maybe because the Earth in the OVA is now called RayEarth they didn't want to make things confusing by calling the Mashin Rayearth). The name "Lexus" may have to do the "car name" theme with character names in the series, since all the characters in MKR, except for Mokona and the three Magic Knights (Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu) are apparently named for cars.

Anyway, similar to the end of season 1 of the anime, the girls end up having to join together to fight the final boss (Zagato's "deity," which he can apparently control despite the fact that he's dead) but here this involves actually combining the three Mashin into one super-Mashin and doing a spell called Helix of Light. Oh and each girl has one spell only -- the rest of the fighting is hand-in-hand combat, much like the EVA-Angel fights in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Hikaru's is Flame Arrow, Umi's is Water Dragon, and Fuu's is Emerald Gale.

However, in the end, they still go their separate ways, so whether Hikaru's wish that they stay together actually comes true is uncertain.

Oh and Clef apparently uses some spell to trap all the other people on Earth in a time warp to protect them, and this makes the girls somewhat mad at him. Also Clef's health suffers because of his act, suggesting that it is something he should not have done.

Curiously enough, only the neighborhoods where we see fighting take place (Roppongi and one other neighborhood) actually are damaged, as we see in a news report at the end, meaning that despite the arrival of the castle, the entire Earth was not destroyed.


So anyway today I took a break from cleaning my room to play Pokémon Ranger while listening to Mugglecast at the same time. I was sitting down in my desk chair, cleaning off my desk, because I had suddenly had this awful back spasm again that I had last week when we went to shop for glasses, where it makes it hard to walk or bend down. (Mum said tonight that it could because I'm overweight, and that kind of talk always depresses me). Anyway, I was still trying to beat the stupid trial in the Jungle Relic where you have to capture Salamence at the end. And today, I DID IT. Yay!!! Basically what I did was seize an opportunity where I could draw circles around it, and started drawing circles crazy fast (since you need 21 circles to capture Salamence). And before I knew it, I had caught it. Yesss!!

After you capture Salamence (or Flygon or Kingdra), the 4th challenge becomes available, where you have to chase around and then capture a Charizard. Charizard doesn't take as many circles as Salamence (I think it takes like 12 to capture it) but while you try to capture it, these little flames appear on the ground which can hurt your Capture Line. So I failed in my first attempt, and so I'll have to try again.

I am thinking about careers again. I found and pulled out all my career assessment results from my Intro to Career Planning class, and I was just looking them over right now. I'm kind of too tired to analyze them though.

I just got an e-mail today saying I could start enrolling for Spring. But I need to get my MMR booster first, I know, so I don't have an immunization hold on my record. It's been hard to work it into my schedule. I'll probably have to make an appointment, cause their clinic times don't work with when I'll be free at school tomorrow. I guess I could make an appointment either today or tomorrow, assuming my work schedule will stay the same as usual (it hasn't changed yet).

Well there's not really anything else to say. Good night!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A short post-election response

(Woo this will be my 200th post!)

Well, as you all know, Barack Obama was elected the new President of the United States by a crazy electoral vote margin - 349-162 as of this very minute (187 vote difference, and 79 more votes for Obama than were needed to clinch the presidency). He won by a 6% margin of the popular vote (52% compared with McCain's 46%), by 7,343,831 votes. So in the popular vote it was very close, and this is probably because a number of the state races for Obama and McCain were really close (except for D.C. where Obama got 93% and McCain got 7%).

In McCain's concession speech, I could tell he seemed bummed about losing, but willing to accept Obama as the president (he kept calling him "my president"). He was very polite about it. It was a good speech.

Am I not happy? Well, yeah, cause I voted for McCain. But I'm not furious, cause I mean, it's done, there's nothing we can do about it, que sera sera. We have to move on. (I'm not nearly as annoyed about it as the College Republicans person is who sent out a club-wide e-mail giving his reaction).

On a lighter note, it looks like the state propositions I voted no on are going down, and the ones I voted yes on are passing. Particularly, 4 and 8 are passing, which is huge. Prop 4, if it passes, requires a minor to get parental consent before getting an abortion. I think this will be huge in abortion prevention. Prop 8 is the much-publicized "ban gay marriage" proposition.


On other notes...The Wretched of the Earth finally showed up yesterday. Yay.

Well I'm going to go out and get some new sneakers. Bye.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thoughts on "Harry, a History"

I pre-ordered Melissa Anelli's book Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon, and for whatever reason it arrived early (it's not supposed to come out till tomorrow). It arrived last Monday (October 27th), just in time for my birthday. I was surprised to see it, actually. Mum handed me a package that had come, and I figured it was The Wretched of the Earth, the second of the two books which I ordered for school (and which still hasn't shown up), but no, it was Harry, a History. I was happy, though, because I had just finished my history reading that day and was looking for something new to read. Unfortunately, the history reading for Thursday took precedence over pleasure, as well as a chapter for bio, so I didn't end up reading it right away. But after I finished the bio chapter on Thursday morning, I was free to read. I probably would've started at lunchtime except that I was going to a College Republicans meeting to hear about the California Republican Party's stances on the state propositions for this week's election (which are, by the way, YES on props 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 12 and NO on props 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10).

After school, though, I started, and for the rest of the weekend, it was hard to stop. But I had to work, so reading ended up being restricted to before and after work, on breaks, and on lunch. Like with Deathly Hallows (or any good book when I read it for the first time), I took my time with it, savored it. And last night, I finished it, having read it cover to cover over four days, even the notes, bibliography, and acknowledgments at the end. In my excitement over it, I posted a review on Amazon right away and commented on the fan page for it on Facebook and in the "Eagerly Awaiting Melissa Anelli's Book" Facebook group I'm a part of.

The book is awesome. I had heard teases of it on PotterCast, of course, but those barely said anything about the book, now that I look back on it. Even Sue's interview with Melissa didn't say much. I suppose they didn't want to spoil too much.

Anyway, the book filled me in on a huge part of the fandom that I'd missed by not getting into the books until January 2005, six months before Half-Blood Prince was released. I started listening to MuggleCast not too long after, and PotterCast (which I prefer to MuggleCast most of the time, since it features less goofing around and more serious discussion) came later. I believe I started listening in 2006. I seem to remember it was around Christmastime. Apparently, according to this blog, I started listening to PotterCast soon after (a post dated January 5, 2007, mentions it). I didn't have an iPod then; I had an mp3 player though so I just downloaded the episodes from the respective websites for the podcasts.

It was interesting to learn about Melissa's experiences and about the fandom in general, and I chuckled at things like finding out I was very not alone as a Harry/Hermione shipper in the pre-Deathly Hallows days. I was thinking about that at work this weekend. Why did I become a Harry/Hermione shipper? Why did I insist on it, even after Half-Blood Prince made the Ron/Hermione ship rather clear? I don't know exactly. I think it stemmed from really liking Hermione as a character and not caring much for Ron as a character. Ron, Cho, and Umbridge are the characters I can say for sure I disliked in the books. I never did like Cho, even in her brief introduction in Prisoner of Azkaban as the Seeker in the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw Quidditch match. I didn't much care for her in Goblet of Fire either (but then Goblet's not one of my favorites among the books), although I liked Cedric. The way they played with a Harry/Cho romance in Order of the Phoenix was sort of silly, especially the scene in the tea shop. And when the movie for Phoenix was coming out, they over-promoted the Harry/Cho kiss.

I pretended a certain Harry/Hermione fervor, as I recall, stating in the months before Deathly Hallows that Harry and Hermione should get together, and that Ron could be left in the cold (romantically speaking) for all I cared. For whatever reason, Harry just seemed a better fit for Hermione; she and Ron fought all the time, and for two people who fight all the time to end up together is a very overused cliché. Not that I regarded Ginny (who was touted as who Harry would end up with) with a similar negativity to how I regarded Cho. I do like Ginny. It just seemed very random that of anybody he would end up with Ginny. Yeah, he saved her life in Chamber of Secrets, but that's because she was his best friend's sister. (As Harry and the Potters say in their song "Save Ginny Weasley": "You can't take my best friend's sister...and get away with it!"). Heck, even Luna Lovegood would've made more sense. (She and Harry did seem like kindred spirits in Phoenix, and he even took her to Slughorn's party in Half-Blood Prince). But why Ginny? I will never quite understand Rowling's decision to pair her with Harry. I will accept it, since it is now canon thanks to the Deathly Hallows epilogue, but I will probably never understand it.

I also laughed at some of the later parts of the book which discuss the PotterCast tour in the weeks before the Deathly Hallows release; having listened to those episodes, I remembered a lot of the moments mentioned there.

The one chapter that really caught me off guard was the chapter "Banned and Burned," which deals with both censorship of the book by schools and Christians and Melissa's interview with Laura Mallory, a Christian woman in Georgia who has made herself infamous by her endless attempts to, via the legal system, get the Harry Potter books taken off of shelves in her state, claiming that the inclusion of witchcraft in the books could influence children who read them to practice witchcraft, and that therefore the books are evil and should be banned. PotterCast, when they have mentioned Laura Mallory in the past, have been careful to mention her in a respectful fashion, though their disagreement with her views is obvious. (Unlike MuggleCast, who has bashed her in the past and even tried to call her up multiple times while recording the show). Having heard that Melissa had interviewed Mallory for this book, I was interested to hear what Mallory had to say in her own words.

I won't go too much into detail about what she said (since the book is not yet out officially) but I will mention my reaction to what she said (trying to remain respectful). I must say Mallory takes her faith very seriously and has strong convictions, which one might consider admirable. I daresay I have never taken my faith as seriously as she. But then, I have never cared for extreme fundamentalist Christian views. I grew up going to a Baptist school (and Baptists are very fundamentalist), but the church I went to with my family was an Evangelical Free church, which while still conservative is not as fundamentalist (you can read more about it here). I do not know which denomination Mallory is a part of (the book said that she was not part of any one domination growing up), although I do know the Southern Baptist denomination is popular in the South. The way she talks about God speaking to her, and also about seeing this vision, makes her seem somewhat Penecostal to me.

One thing that shocked me was that Mallory had said that books like Harry Potter LEAD TO SCHOOL SHOOTINGS. I kid you not. The actual quote from the book (p. 189) says: "In October 2006, six months after that infamous school hearing, Laura made some of her most explosive comments about Harry Potter to date: that books that promote evil, like Harry Potter, promote a culture in which tragic school shootings occur, like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two students opened fire on their class and killed thirteen people." WHAT?! That just sounds shocking to me that she would even dare to say that. I remember quite well when Columbine happened. April 20, 1999, was a Tuesday and I remember I was home. I think it was before school. Suddenly a report came on the radio that something had happened in Littleton, Colorado. Since my dad grew up in Littleton, my parents turned the radio up. That was how I found out about the Columbine shootings. I remember that, even though I didn't know anyone involved or anything, I felt sadness. (I had similar feelings about 9/11). Why would someone do such a thing? Much later, I saw part of a TV program that detailed the incident and the investigations that followed. I could hardly watch it, remembering how awful it was from the news reports, and from reading the books about Cassie Bernall (She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall) and Rachel Scott (Rachel’s Tears: the Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott) that came out not long after the incident. (She Said Yes was based on the initial report that Cassie had been asked if she believed in God and responded "yes" before being shot; this has since been shown to not be the case). I should mention that I did also see the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine, which mentions the shooting (I don't actually like Michael Moore; I had to watch the film for a class).

For Mallory to suggest that books like Harry Potter promote school shootings just blows my mind. While what you read, see, and so on can influence your behavior most definitely (those reading this might recall the famous allegation that playing violent video games influenced the actions of the Columbine shooters). But to say a book that includes witchcraft (which, remember, Mallory views as evil) promotes a tragedy like Columbine seems like such a non sequitur.

As for the idea of witchcraft being evil, Mallory gets the grain of that idea from the Bible. Multiple times in the Bible, we are told not to practice witchcraft (and various other forms of the occult, tied or not tied to witchcraft). Indeed, Saul in particular gets in a heap of trouble for calling up Samuel's spirit using a medium. It is condemned both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. I have actually read a very excellent Christian book on the subject called Dewitched: What You Need to Know about the Dangers of Witchcraft and Wicca. That book was not all "fire and brimstone" (the term for people who condemn sinners of every sort immediately to hell just because of their sin, without considering the possibility of redemption and/or forgiveness) but in a very understandable way addresses the main practices and beliefs of those who practice witchcraft and Wicca and what we can do as Christians when faced with these practices and beliefs. It's written technically for teens, but I got something out of it.

So, as a believer of the Bible, I believe what it says to be true, and this includes the fact that practicing witchcraft and the occult is wrong. In fact, in my story Darkly Bound, those shown to use "occult" powers are the bad guys, namely Shea and Jago. Even Nightshade, whose powers derive from an "occult" curse, is considered evil, whereas the powers Avalon has normally are used for good, like in fighting against Jago (twice), using postcognition to try to determine Terrence/Jago's identity, and precognition that allows her to anticipate the attack on Ryan's grandfather Barnaby. (Also, although it is not mentioned in this story, I had originally planned that Avalon, when she realizes in the morning what she has done as Nightshade, uses her telekinesis to return stolen products anonymously).

But practicing witchcraft and reading about a magical school are two different things. Magic has been part of mythology, folklore, and fairy tales for centuries. Heck, we even studied Edith Hamilton's Mythology in Mrs. Burnworth's senior year English class at Tri-City (a Christian school, remember). Nearly every classic Disney movie contains magic, mainly because they are based on those folktales and fairy tales of old (examples include Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, all based on old fairy tales, and the more recent Arabian Nights-based Aladdin trilogy). One -- Fantasia -- even focuses partially on a sorcerer's apprentice (played by Disney icon Mickey Mouse). And Harry Potter isn't alone among fantasy series with magic that are acclaimed by Christians. There is, of course, the more overtly Christian Chronicles of Narnia series, as well as the not-so-overt (unless you read The Silmarillion's Ainulindalë, or Music of the Ainur, as well as other parts of The Silmarillion, and see the Christian parallels) Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was promoted by Christians as well as non-Christians when interest in the series re-ignited with the release of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Well, actually Narnia is not so obvious, because I was working at Loaves and Fishes at the time the first Narnia movie was released, and I got asked at least a million times how Narnia was Christian, and thus many times I got to go on a geeky spiel of my knowledge about Narnia and Lewis in response.

Actually, I was talking with Papa about this chapter the other night, and he mentioned Narnia, and I commented that I would be curious to know what Mallory thinks of Narnia, a clearly Christian series that also contains magic.

That chapter aside, I did enjoy the book immensely and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Harry Potter or knows someone who is. I definitely recommend it to people like me who aren't long-time fans or are fans who are not well-versed in the fandom, as it will definitely educate you about the intricate thing that is the Harry Potter fandom.

Well, that's all I can think of to say. I may blog on other things later today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A new "Half-Blood Prince" trailer, writing, 24th birthday tomorrow, etc.

I opened up iTunes to see if any new podcasts were up so I could get them on my iPod before walking to Wal-Mart today to look for patterns for a Halloween costume, since I decided kind of last minute that I am going to the Halloween Party the Asperger's group is having on Friday night. And I glanced at the "Downloads" screen and an episode of MuggleCast was downloading that was titled "Live HBP International Trailer Talk." When I saw that, I was like, "What the--? There's a new trailer?" With the last HBP trailer, I heard about it on my homepage ( and with this trailer, it came out yesterday online and I didn't see a thing about it on my homepage today. Anyway, I headed to The Leaky Cauldron to try to watch it in their video galleries (as I did with one of the HBP trailers before) but I couldn't get to the galleries so I had to follow a link to their YouTube channel, and there it was. Here it is:

It is some trailer. I wish it hadn't been nearly so fast-paced cause I had to rewatch some stuff. I love the ending too (when I listened to MuggleCast later, some people there hated it, but when I listened to Pottercast's podcast on the trailer tonight while cleaning my desk, they all loved it). But maybe it's because I'm still kind of a Harry x Hermione shipper.

I have been getting back in the mood for writing lately. I'm not sure what prompted it. Today I brought along my composition notebooks with notes for Darkly Bound and The Elven Princess respectively and looked at them. Well mainly I looked at the Elven Princess one, which is pretty much generic notes about Walden, like about the races and stuff. The stuff for Darkly Bound is just a synopsis.

I was more into the Walden stuff because it sounded more planned out (although when re-reading a Walden-set story I'd written the other day, I realized I'd defined a set "heaven" and "hell," whereas I hadn't done so in my I need to fix that). Granted, I only have a rough map of Walden at this point (with the only locations identified on it being the key locations in The Elven Princess) but then I'm no cartographer. I actually bought this marker and stuff for drawing maps and then never did draw one.

Like I was telling Amy last night on IM (we are IM'ing a lot now), fantasy seems to be my strong suit. Maybe because I really like fantasy as a genre. Darkly Bound is sci-fi, as is my unfinished novel Us Against the World, which is set in the same location and time. Darkly Bound mixes sci-fi with some fantasy elements, however, while Us Against the World is pretty much pure sci-fi ("soft sci-fi" though).

I think if I defined the world of those novels a little more, as well as the world of my still untitled CYA-related story (which is basically the same), it would help. I tried to do that by writing out the alternate history of the U.S. space program that I was using for that world, which involved people from Earth discovering the possibility of actual life on other planets as early as the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. (I think I wrote that around the time I was thinking of placing the original Lightning Girl story earlier, in like 2110, and needed to explain how in so little time we had discovered all these planets...although I may have had that idea earlier). I created a bit of pop culture with the 18-movie series Moon Colony Disaster (which is a bit of a reference to Land Before Time, this movie series that seems to go on forever for no reason).

Along with this, I need to rewrite a page or two of "William's Escape" (a Code Lyoko fanfic) to make up for pages I couldn't find when I found the manuscript while cleaning my room. Also, I want to start on my Harry Potter fanfic starring Alera Gynne, an author-created character who transfers to Hogwarts from Beauxbatons. (Hey, if Lucius Malfoy had the choice to send Draco to Durmstrang instead of Hogwarts, then you must be able to transfer from one school to another). Also, I want to work more on my ongoing plans for a Sailor Moon/Harry Potter mix story called "Witch Scouts." It's set around the time of Order of the Phoenix and stars Hermione, Parvati, Ginny, Luna, and Cho, with Crookshanks as their "talking cat/advisor." I was trying for five like in Sailor Moon, but there's not many main ladies in Harry Potter, so I had to use Parvati, who I don't know much about, and Cho, who I don't like (I'm not a HarryxCho shipper).

Hopefully, this will give me some stuff to work on.

Tomorrow (or today rather --the 28th) is my 24th birthday...woo! I have school, but afterwards Mum and I are going to shop for fabric for my Halloween costume (I found a pattern today -- it's a Regency-style dress) and then we (her and Papa and I) will go to dinner. Here is a picture of the dress, cropped from the original pic of the pattern cover, which has two different dresses:


Well I gotta go sorry this took so long I was IM'ing with Amy. Good night.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

School blues

I didn't get a lot of sleep last night because yesterday I had to finish my first paper for my Lit class. I worked on it last weekend, but then got interrupted by having to study for midterms. I did start work on it early, doing work as early as September 14th and 15th, due to an annotated bibliography being due on the 16th. I got the annotated bib back not long after, and then got distracted apparently (probably by reading for Lit class, which I had to do a lot of in late September) since I did not create my OneNote notebook for notes on the paper until September 29th. Sometime between this point and last Monday (October 6) I took book notes. I also had all my reference book photocopies done by then (I did them on September 30th and October 1st), and I highlighted them in four different colors and filed them in file folders on October 1st. My work on the paper was interrupted, as I said, by midterm study, and most of my note-taking and typing up of notes was done this past weekend, thanks to the interruption. I spent time on the bus and during breaks and lunches at work doing this, though I took a break from it on Sunday until I got home, because of something that happened regarding it the day before.

I might as well say what that happening was, since my parents -- the last people I want to tell this humiliating story to -- will probably never read this any time soon (my dad said he wanted to see my blog, and I said it was kind of private, and he asked for me to send some of the not-so-private posts). Anyway, I had photocopies which still needed marking (only the titles were highlighted) and once the manuscripts were marked, I needed to take handwritten notes from them (since I generally do handwritten notes first then type them up, so I don't have to always carry my laptop). And I was desperate to get the note-taking done before Monday (my one day off before the paper's due date) so I could focus on the paper on Monday. Knowing that I would be sampling and that at certain times it was likely to be really slow (at which times I simply sit there doing nothing), I snuck a photocopy out there in my apron pocket and used the pen I was already carrying with me to mark it up. This was on Friday, and it was so slow and managers so few that no one noticed. Plus I was pretty discreet about it, hiding it when need be under a copy of the store's health newsletter which I had also secretly brought over as a boredom-killer (if I were to be caught reading, I could truthfully say I was reading something about store product that was also free, so I wasn't stealing it).

Saturday, I was equally desperate but not as lucky. Fortunately, I got a fair amount of work done on the report that morning, since my dad (who was taking me to work; I can't take the bus anymore on Saturdays cause there's no bus service near me without the FAST bus) had to be somewhere really early and thus dropped me off by work around 7am. Since I did not need to be in till 10, I went to the nearby gas station, where I tried to mark some photocopies and take notes from journal articles on my computer while vainly attempting to ignore the blasting TV in the background of the seating area where I was (the gas station in question has a small steak restaurant in it, with tables to sit at near it, and this is where I was). I left to go up to work around 9 and continued to do some computer work (having finished marking the photocopies) in the quieter breakroom. But there was still much to do with the journal articles, and notes to take from the recently marked photocopies.

At a point I considered safe, I said I needed to go to the bathroom (which I did) and afterwards, I got one of the photocopies and some notebook paper and hid them in my apron pockets. When I got back to the table, I took notes while it was slow. This was not easy to do, and a lot harder than the marking I'd done the previous day. Unfortunately, I was found out by Jose (a manager) and Lucy (a girl who has only in the last few months become a manager and who I don't like much), who discovered my secret when they found it necessary to move my table, exposing my hidden papers on the shelf under the table, which is only visible when one is behind the table. When questioned, I told the truth and said it was homework, saying that half the time I don't get any customers anyway. They chided me, saying I couldn't do homework at the table, and Lucy said I was supposed to "suggest sell," whatever that means (I know what it means when I'm working in the department - "suggestive selling" - but not as a sampler). I complied and at the next opportunity (my break) put the papers away in my locker.

But desperate as I was, I was stupid enough to try my luck further by repeating this action with yet another photocopy. This time, the store was more consistently slower (as it was after my lunch and thus late afternoon) so I got away with it for longer. But I was caught again, this time by one of our newer managers, Jonathan, who usually works nights. This was more a result of being caught unawares and Jonathan just happening to be approaching from the one single angle from which he could've seen me doing what I was doing before I was aware of him doing so. The reason for there being only one single angle was that my table was angled against the corner of the cheese island, which is shaped kind of curvy and weird, like some people's home swimming pools. Therefore, there was very limited space in which to move my chair (there's a chair that goes with the table, and per Joe, our assistant store manager, I am allowed to use it). This put me in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Fortunately, Jonathan is not as loud as Jose or as loud (and, if I may, tactless) as Lucy. He was pretty calm and listened to me be pathetic and say I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't desperate to get things done for my report (pathetic, but true, and all I could think of at the moment). He said he understood the importance of school, but I should still put the papers away because he was expecting a supervisor in, and he would get in trouble if the supervisor caught me doing what I was doing. So I did so, and took them back to my locker when I went on my last break.

However, I may not live this down any time soon, as Lucy and Jose kept chiding me the next day (Sunday) about not doing homework, to which I frustratingly responded "I'm not," meaning it, because I have learned my lesson. Reading the health newsletter (or even the free Coast Times newspaper, as I did once) is one thing, but this was a big risk that I realize now was kind of stupid to take. Mainly, lack of preparation led me to this, as despite having midterms I would've had time the previous week (after getting all the photocopies) to do some notes if I'd thought of it. Not to mention Jose had the audacity to tell Sandra (my department boss) about this, and while she said nothing to me, she used it as the basis of an awful joke about me being arrested for doing my homework there, because I was "stealing time from the company," which I unfortunately took seriously (as usual). This was in response to my curiosity about a pair of sheriffs that were questioning Sergio (another manager) outside the store entrance. (It turned out that they had, of course, nothing to do with me -- I later learned some underage boys had tried to steal beer, and fled before managers could catch them, which is why the police were called).

One good thing is that I took notes for critical reception as well, so that is done. I am saving all my photocopies, except for some pages from the Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance which I skimmed and found not useful, so I can go over them again if necessary for the final paper. We discussed the paper in class today, and I asked a question about how to separate out journal articles between the "major works and themes" section and the "critical reception" section. This was very illuminating. Once I get my paper back and see Professor Cucinella's comments, I am going to work on organizing my notes better, something I didn't have time to do before this paper that I think hurt the organization of my paper and caused it to be the 15 pages (counting a 3-and-a-half page Works Cited with over 20 sources) long that it was, compared to the girl sitting next to me who addressed the same author with four sources and 7 1/2 pages.

I do not think I need any more sources, though I will not know for sure until I organize my notes better. For critical reception, I need to determine who the big names in scholarly reception for my author (Nella Larsen) are. I should be able to do this because Larsen scholars seem to love to write essays disproving another scholar's essay. So far, I have pinpointed two big names: Thadious M. Davis (who is also one of the three major Larsen biographers) and Deborah McDowell, who seems notorious among Larsen scholars for her insistence on lesbian themes in Larsen's novel Passing. They get mentioned a lot in journal articles I've read. Also mentioned more than once are the other two major Larsen biographers, George Hutchinson (author of In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line, the one biography of her I was able to obtain) and Charles Larson (author of the book Invisible Darkness: Jean Toomer & Nella Larsen). I've had trouble getting Davis's book (Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance: A Woman's Life Unveiled) since it always seems to be checked out -- even on the San Diego Circuit -- every time I check it, including this very minute. (Apparently, at this minute, Larson's book is checked out too, even on the Circuit).

Fortunately, with that paper over (as well as midterms), homework will settle down to its usual pace. This week I have reading in Bio, History, and Lit to do. The Bio one I started on the way home; the three chapters we need to read are all rather short and thus I should be able to finish them soon. The reading for Lit is Jean Toomer's Cane, which I think is pretty short. For History, the usual two chapters in a week resulting from me not reading ahead so that I would've read chapter 16 for today's lecture (as if I could've, with my paper to do and a bio exam to study for).

Speaking of history, we got our tests back. The teacher said they were generally bad, but in a class that bombards you with information in lectures from a teacher who lectures really fast and has an accent (he's from somewhere in Africa, Nigeria I think), no wonder. Long story short, I got a C+. In a class with a two-test midterm and final format and only those, two papers, and maybe participation to go by, it might be hard to make up that grade. I knew that my answers weren't great, since even though I studied I went blank in the middle of the test. But I didn't expect to get a C+ -- my first C on a test in a long time -- and so I was pretty bummed.

My lit test wasn't much better, with a total of 23 lost points and thus a B+. Not bad, but I think I could've done better. Looking at the test right now, most of the points lost were on the first part of the test -- identifying passages and writing on them. I didn't study too well for that part. (Coincidentially, this sort of identification is similar to what I had to do with terms for my history test). Therefore, I lost 16 points there, with minus 2 points on the first and last answers, minus 3 on 4 questions, and only one question completely right, I think (one answer has a star by it, which I presume means full points).

The remaining 7 points came from the second part, the part where we were allowed a study guide. Technically, I guess, I lost 12 points on the second part, losing my first 2 points apeice on questions regarding Zoot Suit. I know the basic answers are right, but minus two means they weren't deep enough (I think). Surprisingly, I got all the questions right about So Far From God, which was the one novel whose questions confused me most on the study guide, mainly because my notes from it were few. I think this is because it confused several people, and several of us girls spent time sharing answers from our guides while waiting in the hall for the class before ours to get out.

I also lost two points each on two questions relating to La Maravilla, another novel I didn't easily understand even after class discussion. That's 4 and 4, which is 8, and then I guess I got minus 4 on the second question (one I thought was pretty straightforward, based on my notes, which I admit are often skeletal at best because I simply cannot write as fast as I'd like), which means I was totally "off base." Hmm. The question was "List three characteristics of Chicano literature." Based on my study guide, I realize now that somehow I listed the wrong things by mistake. What I listed were the three parts of the Chicano writer's agenda during the Chicano movement, which is something different. Oops.

Anyway, I was saved à grace de five points extra credit, earned because at the last minute I decided to go ahead and do the extra credit just in case, despite the fact it was on magical realism, which wasn't on our study guide and which I thus had no notes to consult for. I simply wrote three sentences listing the three things I could recall from my notes about magical realism, one of which was a part of a quote from the definition/essay thing she read us on magical realism (that "in the marvelous real, the strange was commonplace and always was commonplace"). I also listed that it was where the unreal occurred alongside real life and that it was associated with Latin American writers. Apparently, this earned me all 5 points, which means this simple explanation was sufficient for full points (which I find hard to believe, since there was a good deal more to it than that, as I recall), or the extra credit was all-or-nothing, where you got 5 points extra if you did it and zero if you didn't. The extra credit in my French class (the workbook) is like this, where you automatically get 4 points if you do it and it's complete, with extra credit points only being docked if it's not complete. (Interestingly, I noticed a lot more workbooks piled up at Professor Anover's desk the day of the second test compared to the day of the first test. Apparently, some people must not have done well on the first test and thus decided the extra credit was worth their while).

I had my first bio exam as well today. The first half was individual and the second half was group (a compromise based on, probably, the fact that our quizzes are group). Professor Hizer kept going on about how easy the test was and we were all like "yeah right" (considering how dang hard her quizzes have been so far). The individual part was 15 questions, multiple-choice (or "multiple guess" as Professor Hizer put I was somewhat relieved because I knew I had studied (I'd looked over my notes right before class, not having time prior to this due to my paper, and reprinting said paper this morning due to mistakes that needed fixing), plus I think I do better with multiple choice. And for this part at least, the test was easy. I went over my answers anyway, changing one where I hadn't been sure of the answer at first (if the correct answer ends up being my first answer, I'm going to be annoyed). I have gotten into this habit since I had a few tests in the past where I missed a lot of questions simply because I finished the test really fast -- by virtue of studying -- and thus didn't spend time reading the questions well enough.

The group part was as ridiculously hard as the quizzes, and exactly the same format. They were like word problems, except for biology. Between the four girls in my group (Meiling, Sandra, me, and this one girl whose name I can't remember -- we have worked together before, like on the last quiz), we still had difficulty. Fortunately, we sort of paired off on questions and then shared our answers with the other pair, which seemed to work rather well. Our main struggle was with a question regarding Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which we couldn't find anything on in our notes (I just searched my OneNote notebook - it's not there either). Our only notes that were close were on myotonic muscular dystrophy, so we used what we had on that. But when I looked up the two conditions in our textbook later, I realized they are not the same thing. Oh dear.

Our chapter in French class right now is on exercise and being fit, and so the subject of the school's on-campus gym came up. I looked into the gym when I came on campus for orientation, but I couldn't get in, and it turns out you have to have a towel (for wiping the machines after you use them, etc) in order to get in. I just called the place (they're open till 10 tonight) and the guy said you could purchase a towel there for $4 or bring your own. I also confirmed that you need your own towel for the showers. I may ask Mum and Papa if they have an extra one of those gym towels I've seen them use, or I may just buy my own, since $4 is not all that much. I don't tend to use gym machines much, but during my P.E. class at Mira Costa I got into the stationary bikes and the treadmill at their mini-gym. I think I also used the Lat machine a lot (which exercises your lats, or your latissimus dorsi, a large muscle across your back). I might not have a lot of time to go there, but maybe I can go for a bit in the morning if I get there early enough. I just need to get off the campus shuttle at Chavez Circle and I can walk from there. Day use of the lockers is free, so I can put my stuff in there to keep it out of the way.

I decided to re-read The Everything Guide to Writing a Novel as my pleasure reading today and it got me thinking about writing again. I haven't written in a while, except synopses. My two major novel ideas are Darkly Bound (Avalon's story, the one I started for Anime Angels) and an unnamed story about the Christian Youth Alliance and Avalon's neice Emily (who takes the spot of Coral Chandler, who originally was going to be in that story before I decided to part with Lightning Girl forevermore). I also had an idea today about a mystery - either a thriller or a cozy, I'm not sure - involving a bus murderer, somebody who murders people on buses. I figured I can use my experience riding the bus in such an idea. The only reason I thought it might be a cozy is because cozy mysteries are known for featuring amateur sleuths, and I like the idea of an amateur sleuth (like Allan Lewis of my short story "The Murder at the Green Snake Inn," and Jessica Blake, the protagonist of my first mystery novel The Chess Master).

I am looking at The Chess Master now and it seems like it could be good with a little more historical research and probably some reworking. I also might make Jean more evil, as he was in the first manuscript of the novel, which I've lost. I was somewhat discouraged from working on The Chess Master when my friend Tammy gave it a read-over and sent the typed novel back to me with many comments, some critical, which I took to heart too easily. I think I could approach it better now. I am actually getting better at responding to criticism and taking constructive criticism in some regards, thanks mainly to having to respond to YouTube comments. Sassyrecombinantpass on YouTube has been particularly constructive about my SeraMyu songdubs. As for my writing, I seem to have gotten to a level where there isn't (so far) peer review of essays, which makes me feel more comfortable. This may change when I get to the Creative Writing workshop. My main weak area in taking criticism still is the workplace, where I fall into extreme paranoia that any minor misstep will result in me being fired (which is why I was so nervous after the incident with doing my homework at the sample table) and my weakness of taking everything seriously (which might be a symptom of my Asperger's) often makes me fall for jokes and look silly. I think I can take criticism from my coworkers, but I am still intimidated by and/or defensive around my superiors.

I would like to work on The Chess Master, since it is set in the 1930's, which was one of my favorite historical periods at the time I wrote it. I think if I really got into the research, I could get into it again.

Aside from all this, in the back of my mind right now I am thinking about websites. I don't think history and mythology are good topics because my interests in the former are generally in subjects about which there is not a lot of information available, and my interest in the latter covers two types of mythology - Greco-Roman and Norse - about which there are a great deal of websites already. I might still do something with the minor goddess list I was compiling till recently. I just don't know what. I wanted to call it "The Goddess Project" but there is already a site by that name dealing with the anime Ah! My Goddess (whose three goddess characters are based off the Norns, a fate-ruling trio of women, in Norse mythology). So I have to think of a different name.

I am debating how much to update Misty's Piscine before putting it online; I don't want to never update it. I suppose I could update the "files" I already have in the Water Pokémon Database to Platinum level and then add Pokémon later. Now that I think about it, I do still want part of the site to be about Misty, but I can't update much on the manga front since I haven't gotten any more Pokémon manga. I can update the anime front for sure, and I was until recently compiling a "ship" list for her. I might be able to update the part about her sisters too. And the little thing on why water-types are so great can be made more of a serious essay, rather than the silly bullet list of uses for each water-type that it is now. Come to think of it, I may also add TCG information to the site as well, since my extensive collection of TCG cards for Pokémon will allow me to do this easily.

Speaking of the TCG, I bought a two-boosters-with-a-promo-card package a little while ago at Wal-Mart. The promo card was Misdreavus, which is great cause back when I used to actually make decks to play with, I often used psychic as a backup for my water-types. Plus, I have a Misdreavus in my Pearl game which is useful because it is pure Ghost, unlike my other Ghost-type, Haunter, and it still knows Mean Look (a move which keeps wild Pokémon from escaping), which I am looking to use to catch the ever elusive Cresselia. Despite having Misdreavus (which I nicknamed "Miz," like "Les Miz" for Les Misérables) in first slot with Mean Look, Cresselia still tends to run away even if I get to pick my move first and pick Mean Look. Then, one of my boosters had a card for Misdreavus's evolved form, Mismagius, which is even better. And even if I choose to go with colorless rather than psychic as a backup (another possibility I've tried), I got a Togekiss (the final evolved form of Togepi) in another pack I got recently that seems pretty powerful. And I have a Togepi (which I traded for) and a Light Togetic. So I'm good.

Well I can't think of anything more to say. I think I got out the anxieties I was feeling earlier. Good night.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thoughts about web sites, insurance problem solution

I am trying to get back into doing websites, but I am often so busy with school or too tired to do much with it. Also, I really want to do a site that covers all my interests, but when I tried to plan this out, I realized I have a lot of interests, as I mentioned here. I still want to do a personal/writing site and the Misty's Piscine site. But as for history and mythology, as well as other animes, I am stuck. I started compiling a list of minor goddesses for a site on that, but I am not sure how to organize it. A Wiki-like site would be great, but it involves sharing the creation of content and I'd rather not do that. And as for history, I had thought to do something on a woman-related subject like footbinding in China, as well as a culture-related site on Japanese festivals. But I am not sure how to do this either. I will have to think about this. (I am watching the Presidential Debate right now so I am kind of distracted).

I found out what to do about the insurance. I have to fill out a Vacation Waiver to show that I went on vacation in August so I get credit for that week. Kinda dumb, I know. But oh well.

I'm going to go for right now and watch the Presidential Debate.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

School-related stuff, possible loss of health insurance

I can't believe it's October already! Time really flies! I mean, I already have midterms coming up. Though a couple were rescheduled, they're mostly all next week. Though I have to do a lot of studying this weekend, next week with all the tests there won't be new reading assigned, allowing me to catch up if I need to, since I have been struggling to keep up with the reading the whole time.

This morning, I finished reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, since we were going to discuss it in history class today, only to get to history class and find out that one other girl and I were the only people in class who finished the book. Thus, we watched a video instead that we would've normally watched next Tuesday.

Now I just have my Bio book to catch up with, and then I'll be in good shape.

My big task right now is my gargantuan Lit project, the first paper of which is due on the 14th. I spent a good portion of yesterday at the library finishing my photocopying of stuff from reference books. I've written notes from three books so far, which is progress but not quite enough progress. I want to try to get as many notes as I can now before I have to return the books.

Anyway, last post I promised stuff about the English workshop. It was a great workshop. It was at Palomar College and covered what careers were possible for people with a major in English, with a panel of real professionals. I took lots of notes, and I feel like I learned a lot. But now I need to decide what to do with this information. I haven't really had a chance to think that through.

I got a letter yesterday saying I was going to become ineligible for my health insurance (provided by my union) due to insufficient hours of work. Apparently, I already am ineligible, since my date of loss of eligibility was September 30th, but the letter didn't get to me till yesterday. Anyway, I need to talk to someone about this at work ASAP, cause I need health insurance. Plus, not having sufficient hours is not my fault. I don't do my own schedule. Sandra does it. And she knows I can work Monday and Wednesday as well (not just weekends), even with school. I appreciate if she wants to lighten my load at work due to me being in school (with all the photocopying I had to do, a day like yesterday which I could devote to that was very welcome), but not at the cost of my health insurance.

I am going to try to keep this job at the very least until the 2-year mark (next January) or through the end of my first year at CSUSM (next May). Then I can say I hit the 2-year mark at least, which looks good for my resume. Mainly though, I do need the insurance, which is the best health insurance I've ever heard of. (But then, I don't know much about health insurance). And that ties me to this job which I don't like much (or "je ne l'aime pas beaucoup" as I said in my French class one day when Prof. Anover asked about our weekends, and I said I had a so-so weekend because I had to work -- incorrectly stating this in present tense as Je dois travailler meaning "I have to work" or "I must work," when I meant past, which would be J'ai dû travailler -- correcting her use of the word détester, which means "to detest, to loathe, to hate" and is a rather strong verb, in reference to my situation).

Next week there's an event called "Extreme Makeover Resume Edition" where you can sign up to have your resume looked at for 15 minutes by employers. I'm going to give it a shot. It'd be nice to know why I sent resumes to all these places for office jobs and got no reply even when I followed up.

There are things I still need to take care at school: my Computer Competency Requirement Test and my Measles-Mumps-Rubella booster (I had the vaccine once already, when I was a little kid). I also probably need to make a formal appointment with academic advising, as they advised us transfers to do.

Okay I'm tired. Good night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do NOT procrastinate on term papers, no matter what!

That is my message to anyone who actually reads this blog: If you have a term paper due, and you know it's due, don't put it off. Even if you are busy or stressed, as I am, procrastination is not the answer.

I was always very good with this stuff in high school, but have gotten worse with it since I started college. I wonder if college is having a bad effect on me. Of course, I didn't have a job in high school and definitely not much of a social life, so it was easier for me to get that sort of stuff done. Now I do have a job and not just a job but a full-time job (although with three days a week the last few weeks it doesn't feel like a full-time job). With MiraCosta, it was all right; I was able to keep up even with work, but then I was working part-time for most of that time. Only in my second to last semester did I start to go to school while having a full-time job, and I struggled that semester too. Lately, I've been getting off early enough on the days I work that I could do homework, and with the little stuff I have actually done ok so far. But for bigger stuff it is hard sometimes because I come home from work tired and usually stressed out too, cause the last few weeks my only hours have been on weekends, and weekends are so much worse than during the week (especially midweek, like Wednesday or Thursday).

Not to mention that Sandra is pushing all of us to the breaking point most of the time, mostly to look good for the supervisors, especially Diana Kelly, who have been visiting a lot recently. I'm feeling it, Laura's feeling it, and I know Jose (one of the bakers) is feeling it. And probably Karen (the main baker) too. The cake decorators (the around 3rd-trimester-pregnant Noemi, Katie, and our new decorator Ana) not so much, except on weekends when there's a lot of cake orders. And newbies Jenna (a Massachusetts native with a Boston-esque accent who used to be a pastry chef and once tried out for Hell's Kitchen) and Silvinia (a Hispanic woman who understands English but doesn't appear to speak it) don't seem to feel the heat yet.

Yes, we have new people, and I think this might figure into why I am getting less hours. I'm not complaining -- time off is nice -- but I do want to make money. And $9.20 an hour ($10.20 on Sundays) for 24 hours a week isn't much, especially after taxes, Social Security, union dues, and the $7 that goes toward my insurance.

Anyway, I had a term paper due today for my History class, and though I got the books last week (one from our library and some from the Circuit) I didn't have a chance to do anything with them until this week, mainly Tuesday, yesterday, and today. I actually wrote the paper itself today; the rest of the time was spent in note-taking from sources. I barely finished it in time for class, even with the extra time I had thanks to French class being canceled today. This was mainly cause one of the sources was an e-book where I'd looked up things in the index that each had from one to three "see alsos" that I also looked up. I was having to go all over the place in the book, only to glean very little from the book anyway. Plus, according to the book on citation that Professor Mekenye told us to consult, I had to do Chicago style, which I've never done before. (Other history classes I've taken have used MLA). It turned out this mainly involved using footnotes for citations, which I am very familiar with from my book review for my World History class last fall, where I did MLA with footnotes. So it wasn't too bad. I had to check the summary I found on the CSUSM library site of Chicago style a few times and also look up how to cite an e-book in the library's print copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, the guide for Chicago style.

The introduction and conclusion, which I wrote last (I do this sometimes if I can't think of a good intro or conclusion right away), I don't think were very good since I wrote them in a hurry. But the rest of the paper was all right. I basically just used my notes to find the info and tried to structure it in a logical manner. As far as using the notes were concerned...thank God for OneNote. This nifty little program, included in my Student and Teacher Microsoft Office '07 suite, is very useful. I use it to take notes for my bio and history classes (the two classes I know I can use my laptop in) and have also been using it to organize plans for my websites. I simply put the term paper stuff into the "notebook" I already had for that class, and I did different "pages" with the info from each book. Changing pages in OneNote is way easier than cycling through Word documents like I used to do. And as for Word, it now has some nifty tools for entering citations and stuff. I didn't use that stuff, but I did use the new nifty "Insert Footnote" button.

Anyway, my next paper (I think) is paper #1 of my lit project, and aside from getting the books and doing the annotated bib, I have done nothing on that end, so I better get going on that. That is not due till October 14th, which seems like a long time yet, but that's really only a couple weeks, and time escapes me so fast these days. The first paper contains the first three parts of the final project, which are a biography of our chosen author, an "explanation of the writer's significance within literary history or histories," and an "in-depth" discussion of the writer's major themes. At least there's not as much analysis involved as shall be in the final project, but there's still a lot there. The biography will be eased by the fact that I actually found a real biography of my author, thanks to the ever-helpful Circuit that allows us to borrow books from UCSD, USD, and SDSU. As for themes, I found a lot of journal articles regarding the work we are going to read by my author, so hopefully that will help. I'm not sure on the second part; I'm going to ask Professor Cucinella to clarify that for me.

Fortunately, I did well on my Annotated Bibliography (an A-), which is nice considering the work I put into it (devoting most of a day off to it) and especially since I'd never done one before. The fact that Professor Cucinella posted a sample online for download was really helpful. I think Professor Cucinella's notes on my annotated bib. will help a good deal as well.

One lesson I learned from doing my history paper is to have a better idea of how the paper will be organized before going through your sources (whereas for my history paper I really only had a skeleton outline at first, without even a thesis). Now, as I mentioned, the topics have already been given and also what order they will be in, but where you use stuff from various sources is ultimately up to you, I figure. Also, it's up to you to put things from various sources into a logical order so that the paper flows well. That's how essay writing works.

This is the major project of this class, encompassing the whole semester, and the rest really is just reading and a few tests. If I can keep up on the reading (which except for Mexican Village I have been doing good on), I can devote more time to making the project good. And I really want to pass this class, not only because it can count as an elective toward my major, but because it is a 400-level (meaning senior year level) course, and I am technically still a junior (300-level) so I will feel like I accomplished something by doing well in this class.

The bar has definitely been raised this semester. The jump from community college to the university is quite a leap to say the least. It's not going to be easy. But, to quote my favorite Queen song, "I consider this a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain't gonna lose."

Not much else has been going on, really. I spent the ride home from school relaxing, feeling after the agony of doing the report I deserved a little rest. I played Pokemon Pearl and then listened to a new episode of WTPT, which was about Berries.

My pleasure reading has been scant lately, thanks to having so much reading for my Lit class, as well as reading for all my other classes, mainly Bio and History. But I did manage to re-read The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan while trying to also read for my classes, and now I am re-reading Sixth Covenant, book 6 of the A.D. Chronicles series by Brock and Bodie Thoene.

My video-making has been scant too; I haven't posted anything in around a month on my main account, and in a while on my backup one. I have run dry on ideas, so I am focusing on my fandubs. I am still planning Act 24 of the Dark Mercury Arc Fandub Project and am waiting for the rest of the lines from AmyMizunoPGSM, who, if all goes well, will be our new Usagi. I also need to finish planning what music to use and record my lines.

Also, I am planning some solo fandubs - two Pokemon eps, some songdubs, and a redo of my second fandub for the channel, a Generator Gawl fandub.

Okay it's getting late and I have to get up early tomorrow. I'll post later about the English workshop I went to yesterday. Bye for now!