Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finally no more processes...but still there is stress

Just came from class, where the teacher gave a lecture on a process called "litho" something or other. Chances are I will have forgotten everything he said by next class; I seem to be forgetting a lot of the processes lately. I totally forgot aquatint.

Fortunately, this is the last process he is teaching us, with the end of the semester coming soon.

I finally bought my zinc plate today, for $59, and I sold half of it to one of my classmates since I didn't think I would be using it all and got back $30. I got it cut and used one of the plates for my second soft ground print (the one I'm doing with leaves & foliage I collected) and another plate - long and thin - for my aquatint, which I bought a set of stencils for because, according to one of my classmates, you needed to make a stencil (although the teacher refuted this). I got confused about the aquatint but fortunately the teacher helped me out. He asked me what exactly I was planning to do with the stencil as far as aquatinting and I said, I didn't really know exactly but that I needed to do an aquatint cause I hadn't done one yet and I didn't want to be behind, and that somebody had told me you needed to make a stencil for it. He told me you didn't need to make a stencil, but since I had one and some extra space around where I would've put the stencil (I had made the plate have space around where the stencil would be on purpose when marking my plate into smaller plates, thinking I would need it), he said, let's go and experiment. So we did. He used my stencil (of a line of roses) and did three of them, one on top, one in the middle, one on the bottom. Then he took some metal mesh thing he'd picked up on our way to the spray booth (where you can use spray paint safely away from others, since the fumes are so bad...someone was using that when we got there though so we did it over a trash can) and laid it on there so when you lifted it off, it filled the blank space. Then he told me that if I liked it to go put it in acid.

The mesh thing was actually pretty cool - you do a similar trick to this with tarletan (which is also like mesh but is cloth) with the foliage soft ground, to produce the same effect (filling the blank/negative space).

Here is a picture of the design of the stencil, blown up a little via Photoshop:


But despite all my work today, the only fruit of my labor was one print of my second soft ground, in green, and accidentially upside down (this happened with my first print of my first soft ground too). An attempt to print this same thing in blue turned out so light you couldn't see anything, and the aquatint, in black, ditto. *sigh*

So I am bummed. This on top of Amy leaving for the start of her basic Army Reserves training today (we did talk yesterday though on IM), just plain being restless, buying a book that sounded good but is actually pretty disturbing, the heat (although it is cooler today), and the stress of knowing I gotta get ready for my final soon, picking my 5 pieces to present. And the pieces will actually be displayed in the gallery here! Scary! I hope the matting covers my smudged edges, the result of touching the paper with inky fingers.

I don't know why I've been so restless lately. Maybe I'm just tired, or maybe cause I'm trying to eat healthier I'm not getting as much sugar or protein (both energy boosters) as I usually get. Or maybe I'm sick. Or it could just be a pre-menstrual thing; I'm starting to get restless before day 1 of my period now.

I did have a whole quarter leg (a thigh and leg together; it's a service deli item) for dinner on Sunday, just to see what it tasted like. That probably messed up my "diet" right there -- although the chicken is baked, not fried. And baked chicken I think is better for you. It was pretty good though, but very messy to eat. And very filling.

I've gotten back into listening to my Divine Comedy audiobook, which I have found does not interest me as much as I expected. I am on the Paradiso now. I think that the first part (Inferno) is easier to read (or listen to) because more is actually going on. The other two parts (Purgatorio and Paradiso) have less actual action and more "discourse" -- long speeches on various topics, mostly theology. One gets lost in the wording and rather confused. Not to mention that medieval Christian theology (such as Dante and the readers of his time would have known) is very different from modern Christian theology in many respects, so it is difficult to understand the former when your main education is in the latter.

Well I better go, it's getting late and I want to buy my May bus pass before I leave and maybe get something to eat to lift my energy. Bye.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Computer blues, thoughts on the JKR/RDR trial, hours less at work (is it me or the economy?), Nim's Island, etc.

I told Mum tonight how the people at the place I took my computer to yesterday (which is within walking distance of my house) said that my laptop battery was dead and I needed to get a new one. But this discussion went nowhere. Mum pointed out that I have already replaced the battery twice only to have both batteries fail to work properly.

I have taken my computer to Staples, Best Buy, and a couple independent computer places now, and nobody can solve my battery problem. It's very frustrating.

My computer has had quite a few problems in its about 2 1/2 year existence in my possession, after I received it (with "much rejoicing" as Monty Python would say) for my 21st birthday. First, I had a problem with the battery not charging. It did work, but it would not charge using my cord. I ended up having to borrow my mom's laptop cord all the time. I took the computer to an independent place and learned that my cord had developed a short on the end that plugs into the laptop, and I needed a new cord. Ok, no big (as Kim Possible would say). I dole out $60, have them order a new cord for me, and yay, problem solved.

Then there was slowness and programs that would freeze (especially Movie Maker), a problem I still have (and which my mother blames on all the big files on my computer...uh, yeah, ok). Then for a time, my internet didn't work at all on my laptop. But I solved that problem with the help of my friend Gilbert/Oberon's Servant from Tech Links, with whom I had real-time voice contact via a podcast we were trying to create with Tech Links's admin Wartonchan. I don't think I ever found out precisely why I couldn't get online though.

Multiple reboots later, my computer is still slow and doesn't run on battery. Time for a new computer? Probably - seeing as at this point it's pointless to spend any more time and money peddling my problem to various places. Not even Toshiba (the makers of my current computer) is useful; their Tech Support has never been of any help to me, and the most recent times I called, we talked and then they wouldn't go any further with their advice after a while unless I paid them.

My main questions now are, if I get a new computer, what kind should I get? How much should I spend? What do I want out of it? Should I switch to Mac since (a) it's rather popular among people my age, (b) Mac has cool programs (like the iLife suite) that Windows lacks, and (c) the current Mac OS is supposedly a lot more stable right now than Windows Vista?

Best answers to these questions right now: How much should I spend? Not too much. I don't need a ton of bells and whistles. I need a decent amount of memory and storage space - probably a lot more than I think, given my surprisingly large song library in iTunes. But not a lot of unnecessary frills.

What do I want out of it? Speed for one thing. A good amount of memory (my current computer has 55 GB -- which is nothing compared to current laptop models). A battery that actually works (and has good battery life - my current battery, if it worked, would work for 3 hours, which beats the 1-hour original battery). Good sound & video quality, especially since my laptop is usually also my DVD player. Also maybe a nice-sized screen (mine right now is 17").

What kind should I get? I'm pretty sure I will not get Toshiba again, even though Greenpeace voted the Toshiba Tecra A9-S9013 as one of their top "green" laptop models (according to an article I read today in a local newspaper). Like I said, their Tech Support is very much not helpful. Plus, since my battery is obviously not the cause of my battery problem, the only other culprit is the computer itself, and if that's so, I'm gonna steer away from buying another product by the same company. I know that every model's different, but still I feel a bit of caveat emptor ("let the buyer beware") about it.

I would love to get a Tablet PC - probably a convertible (laptop converts to tablet) to save my neck. But they're hard to find (at least where I've looked) and they're more expensive than regular laptops.

I might go with Dell, since their prices are good, and they have a good reputation for great customer service and support. (Not to mention I can get 12% off their already low prices through my labor union).

I'll need time to think this through, obviously. If I do decide to get a new laptop, I'd like to do it before I start at Cal State this fall, if possible. I may see if they sell laptops there, since schools tend to get good deals on computers and computer software. (Yay! Photoshop for $200!).

Oh and the last question - Mac or Windows? I prefer Windows because I am familiar with it, despite its tendency to crash often, among other problems. However, we know from recent media (including the Mac commercials, featuring Drew Barrymore's boyfriend as the "Mac guy") that Vista, the new Windows OS, isn't doing so well. My brother (who has a Dell laptop with Vista on it) doesn't seem to have had any problems with it, though.

Macs are definitely popular among college students like myself. I have seen probably more of the cute little white MacBooks at my school than other laptops. A nice perk to Mac is that its operating systems seem to have done consistently better than Windows in the long run. And programs that are Mac-only -- like the handy-dandy iLife suite that is included with every Mac computer -- are nice to have. I know a lot of podcasters I've heard have Macs - probably cause since iLife features both an audio recording program (GarageBand) and the ever-popular podcast haven, iTunes, having a Mac works in their favor.

One frustrating thing about the iLife suite is the simple fact that it is just that, a program suite. You can't buy the programs separately - whereas you can with Microsoft Office (Windows's signature program suite). Frankly, the only program I'm majorly wanting is the wondrous and glorious iMovie. The latest version of this movie editing program can export your videos directly to YouTube (cool). The other programs I don't really need - iPhoto (a photo organizing program) doesn't seem all that cool. iWeb is a What You See is What You Get webpage maker, equivalent perhaps to programs like Adobe Dreamweaver. That kind of program is pretty useless to me since I know enough HTML to create a decent site all by myself. I have iTunes already, having downloaded it from Apple's website. GarageBand is cool, but I really like Audacity for my audio recording. It works great, and it's freeware, which is always nice. iDVD I don't necessarily need, though it would be nice to be able to rip DVD's to get footage for my videos sometimes.

Ok, time to move on. I gotta try to get to bed earlier tonight to make up for my 4-hour-and-50-minute night last night. I've totally forgotten about dinner till now. I'm going to go make my Lean Pocket, put my laundry in, and come back.

Ok, I'm back.

Next topic: I listened yesterday to PotterCast's podcast on the lawsuit between J.K. Rowling and RDR Books (MuggleCast did one too; I started listening to it on the way home today but haven't finished it yet). Basically, for those who don't know about this, here is the situation: This guy named Steve Vander Ark is a big Harry Potter fan and head of a major encyclopedia-like website on Harry Potter called The Harry Potter Lexicon. He somehow along the line recently decided to publish the Lexicon in book form, and RDR Books liked the idea and signed a book contract with him. Unfortunately, Rowling, along with Warner Brothers (who owns the movie rights to the series), viewed this as a violation of copyright and expressed their disapproval to the parties concerned, and eventually filed a lawsuit against RDR Books. They tried to settle things outside of court, but this proved to not work out, so the trial went to court this week.

The crux of the whole trial is how the "fair use doctrine" (which dictates just how much you can "fairly use" in your work from another person's work that is under copyright) will be interpreted in this case. If a right to "fair use" can be proven to belong to Steve Vander Ark, then that will make his side even stronger.

Being a frequent user of the web Lexicon, I was uncertain how to respond to all the brouhaha (don't you love that word?) surrounding this lawsuit, even after hearing the details on PotterCast.

After some contemplation of the matter today at work though, I came to a realization. Melissa on PotterCast had pointed out that if RDR wins this case, it won't just have a big impact on the Harry Potter fandom in particular, but on writer's rights in general. Seeing as Melissa is writing a book right now (on the Harry Potter fandom, no less), she must know very well how attached a writer becomes to his or her ideas and words. And then I thought, I'm a writer too. What will life be like for just-starting-out writers like me if RDR wins? Copyright law could totally change, for better or worse, as a result of this case.

And yet, writers deserve to have their ideas protected. It's in the Constitution, for goodness sake! It's in a clause currently known as the Copyright Clause or the Intellectual Property Clause, which appears in Article I, Section 8, a section naming the powers of Congress. The clause says:

"[The Congress shall have Power] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries..."

After realizing what impact it could have on other authors, even up-and-coming ones like me, I sympathize with JKR. I, like a lot of fans of the books, think she is an absolute genius because of her unique writing style and the rich world she has created through the Harry Potter series. Such amazing writing deserves to be protected.

I am thinking now about the stories I've written - both those I can't find anymore and the ones I still have. I can't imagine having the world of Walden - which I've described richly in the "Walden Chronicle" stories I've written and in my notes on my Walden novel - taken from me by a copyright violation, nor the world of the constantly revised Lightning Girl saga. As a writer, things like that that you create are almost real to you, almost tangible, and yet intangible in the way they are ingrained in your heart, your mind, your soul even. To lose them or have them threatened would be very upsetting.

I have been writing seriously since I was 11, more than 10 years. Granted, it's been very on-and-off. But I really love storytelling, and composing stories comes very naturally to me. And I don't like to give up on stories - I've been revising the Lightning Girl story since high school! Not to mention that I think my talent for writing is a gift from God, and that makes it even more important.

I was recently reading some good books on writing, and in a couple of them, which featured essays by writers and writing teachers, the essay writers would sometimes reference their own works and talk about them in a way that made you know that - despite any successes, failures, or struggles - they really loved what they were doing and were into the stories they create. I think this is true of any author. Tolkien loved his Hobbits and his Elves and all the other creatures of Eä (the universe in which Middle-Earth exists). In fact, he loved the Elves so much that he devoted pretty much an entire book to them - The Silmarillion, probably the best LOTR-related book aside from the original trilogy. And he created their two languages (Quenya and Sindarin) himself!

So, in short, I sympathize with Rowling now. I'd want my writing protected too. So I want her to win.

Moving from Rowling's work to my own current hours at work have been less of late. I have 24 hours (the least they can give me) this week, packed into 3 8-hour days, on the weekend no less. And next week, it's the same. But I don't think it's just me. Everybody's hours are being cut, with the exception perhaps of certain checkers and other people that are locked into 40 hours a week. So I'm not the only one. It's not certainly because we don't get business (as was the reason for budget cuts at my last job). We get a lot of business, more so on some days than others, but still quite a bit. But the economy stinks right now, and labor budgets are tight. And that's the worst thing about it - you have a lot of people working barely any hours at the job they have, resulting perhaps in a desire to obtain another job, which in an economic slump like this (or "stagflation" as they have called this current slump) is going to be pretty hard. And with the high gas prices, it may be hard for many people just to get to work since lots of people don't want to pay high prices at the pump. (This is where taking public transit comes in handy - although buses need gas too). So, as much as I'd like to switch jobs before starting university this fall, I may need to just sit back and wait out the slump, since I can because I don't have a lot of necessary monthly expenses - just rent, my cell phone bill, and my bus pass.

The even worse thing is that not only is America's economy messed up, but I happen to live in California, whose state budget is perhaps even more messed up than the general economy, due to bad government spending and inefficient methods being used to try to deal with the deficit and revitalize California's economy.


On Wednesday, I finally got around to seeing the movie I'd wanted to see, a movie called Nim's Island. It's about a girl who lives on an island with only her marine biologist dad and her animal friends for company. Her dad goes off on a sailing expedition and gets caught in a storm and left drifting out at sea. When Nim can't reach her dad, she wishes she had the help of her favorite adventure novel hero, Alex Rover, to get her dad back. She thinks she has hit some luck when someone named "Alex Rover" e-mails her dad about an article he wrote for National Geographic. They correspond, and Nim eventually asks Rover to come and help her find her dad before a cruise ship/tour company takes over the island to make a resort. What Nim doesn't know is that her correspondent is actually the author of the Alex Rover books - who is also named Alex Rover, but short for Alexandra. In short, she is female, though her hero is male. Alexandra Rover is a nervous wreck - she's got writer's block, she's on an obsessive diet of Progresso soup, she has extreme agoraphobia and hasn't left her apartment in 16 weeks (even to get the mail!), and she seems obsessed with cleanliness, as shown by her fondness for Purell hand sanitizer. While Nim is mad at Alexandra when they first finally meet, they grow closer, and Alexandra ends up staying on the island.

Overall, I thought it was really, really good.


Well, it's late, so I better start getting ready for bed. Erev niflah! ("Have a wonderful evening!" in Hebrew).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Opera at Palomar, class speeds up, bad MuggleCast April Fool's Day joke (again), Michael Johns is gone, my friend the LDS, and other stuff

Today I went to see a production of Gluck's opera Orpheus and Eurydice at Palomar College, a community college near me. I had heard that it was happening a long time ago when I picked up a brochure about Palomar's 2008 Performing Arts season, but only in the last few weeks did I realize it was coming up so quickly and actually make plans. Though I had to leave class early to make the 4pm performance today. But today was the only day that worked out -- I could've gone to the 8pm Saturday shows but my mom kept asking me if there was a matinée, so I'm guessing they didn't want to have to drive out there to pick me up. And I couldn't make the Sunday 2pm matinées cause of work.

Anyway the opera was held in the Performance Lab, not the school's actual theater. The Lab was basically an open area in the middle with an orchestra box in the back and chairs on sets of risers on the sides. When I came in, they said to head towards the far side as they wanted to fill those seats first. To do this, you basically had to walk across the "stage," where the actors were already positioned (though the opera had not yet started), so that was kinda weird. But anyway the opera was good, but surprisingly short (only a little over an hour). Although it is only a three-act opera, so I guess one would expect it to be short.

The opera has only three principal characters: the two title characters and Amor, the god of love. All three of these were played by women, even though both Orpheus and Amor (a.k.a. Cupid) are male. But then Orpheus in this opera is usually played by a woman nowadays because a certain kind of voice is needed for that part. It was traditionally done by a male with the vocal range of a female. So now it is done by counter-tenors (tenors who can sing alto or mezzo-soprano) if a male plays the role, but more often a woman who can sing alto or mezzo-soprano plays the role, as was the case in this performance.

The woman singing for Orpheus was a special guest, a Palomar graduate, and she did very well though it was difficult to understand the words she sang (despite the fact the opera was being performed in English, rather than Gluck's original Italian or his later French revision).

Eurydice was played by a girl who during the rest of the opera was part of the chorus and also an understudy for Orpheus's part (interestingly enough). Her dress was very pretty. It was all gold and very much in a wedding style, befitting Eurydice having died right after getting married.

The last part, Amor, was played by a girl who is only 16 and was making her operatic debut with this opera. She was really, really good for only being 16. And you could actually understand her a lot better than the other two principals. Maybe it was because she was always toward the back of the stage and I was in the back row (since it was highest and thus provided the best all-stage view) that I heard her the best. I'm not sure. But anyway she was very good.

The other parts (the mourners in Act I, the demons and the blessed spirits in Act II, and the celebrants at Orpheus and Eurydice's reunion at the end of Act III) were played by the chorus, made up of other members of the Palomar Chamber Singers. They were also easier to understand most of the time.

The story was interesting because the ending was a twist on the ending of the original myth of Orpheus & Eurydice. The original myth ends with him losing her to death a second time because he looks back at her when they are escaping Hades, disobeying the gods' command. In Gluck's opera, Orpheus does disobey the command and lose Eurydice again, but the story doesn't end there. In the opera, Orpheus is so grieved at losing Eurydice again that he decides to kill himself so he can be reunited with her. Then, just as he is about to do so, Amor appears to stop him. Amor then tells Orpheus that because of his love and devotion, he will be able to get Eurydice back despite the fact that he disobeyed the gods' decree and looked back at her before it was safe to do so. Amor then brings Eurydice back to life, and the two are reunited and live happily-ever-after.

Somehow this ending makes more sense for an opera or play, since a sad ending is kind of depressing for a play (although many plays do end sadly, like Shakespeare's tragedies and Our Town). And Gluck does enough with the plot to make the new ending possible and not just a cheesy addition.

My printmaking class seems sped up now, probably cause


Sorry had to go down and eat dinner.

Anyway, my printmaking class is speeding up, probably cause it's near the end of the semester. I assumed we were doing line etchings next, so I brought in an image for that and did an etching of it. I printed some prints of it this morning before class. But everyone else seems to be doing aquatint (a different technique) right now so I'm confused. At any rate, the teacher said today (as did a fellow student) that the lines needed to be deeper, which means they need more time in the nitric acid bath. The teacher told me today though to at least put asphaltum on it and put it under the heat lamp, which I did, using my personal mix of asphaltum (well, the asphaltum's not mine, but I brought in my own jar for mixing it and thus ended up with my own mix). I did so, although I wasn't able to do anything with it cause I had to leave early to get to the opera, when the teacher was still giving a lecture on matting our prints.

The problem is the class is not very structured so it's difficult to keep up with what we're supposed to be doing at any given time, especially now that everyone seems to be doing something different.

Finals time is coming pretty close, so I am already trying to plan my collection of prints for the final. I have a pretty good breadth of work now, so there's quite a bit to choose from. I have to submit a minimum of 5 prints. I will probably submit one of each of my two blockprints, one copy of my Plexiglass etching, one copy of my metal etching (candle), and one of my line etching -- out of what I have so far. This will provide a variety of my work.

I volunteered one of my candle etchings to get matted today as an example (since I was the only one with a print on hand -- I had just pulled a bunch of my stuff off the display board per request from Hollis, the T.A. -- so I had a bunch of prints in my folder), so at least I have an example to go with. I will probably just single mat my pieces since it is easier, and also I missed most of the double matting explanation since I had to leave early.

I had to come up with a name on the spot for my etching when he matted it, so I went with the name I already had in my head from a sample sketch of it -- "The Scribe's Table By Moonlight." It's an etching of a taper candle on a table with scrolls and an inkpot next to it, with a window in the background and a moon in the sky outside the window.

I think I have tentative names for the pieces I'm considering for the collection, except for the first blockprint. The second blockprint will simply be called "Yosi" since it is a blockprint of Yosi from PowerMark, or maybe "Yosi (After PowerMark)" if I choose to acknowledge the source of the picture. The Plexiglass etching will probably just be called "Cornelia and Elyon" since that's what it's an etching of (unless I think of something more creative). The candle etching will be called, as aforesaid, "The Scribe's Table By Moonlight." My line etching will probably be called "Fairy of Night," after the original name given to the image I found.

Here is that image, btw (sized down to fit the post):


My etching of it is smaller though -- it's on a metal plate that's about 3 x 5. It's also a mirror image of this cause I traced it onto sketchbook paper using the light box in order to reproduce it in pencil (you need to draw it in pencil in order to be able to transfer the image onto the plate - when you transfer the image, even after getting off any excess paper that stuck to the plate, the image remains cause of the graphite in pencil lead).

Hold on while I take my laundry down.

Ok, I'm back.

I just have to hope and pray that things work out ok.

Speaking of school, I need to get things in order with graduating, etc. I got the order form for my cap and gown. I need to send that in soon. I just talked to Mum and she said there wasn't any point in ordering announcements, so I'm going to just order the basic package with no announcements.

I also submitted my "intent to enroll" tonight for CSUSM and I am now waiting for the fall schedule to be official so I can plan my classes better. They delayed it again, now till the 24th. Grr.

I shall have to plan soon for getting my final transcript ready to send to CSUSM and getting my IGETC certification. I think I have to get immunized too. Gosh I hope I didn't miss that deadline.
Found the flyer. It says to contact Health Services 6 months before you plan to transfer. I start in August, which means I should have contacted them a couple months ago. Oops. I better call them tomorrow.

Basically the thing with immunizations is that the state school systems require them. They are immunizations for tetanus, MMR (probably Measles-Mumps-Rubella), hepatitis B, and tuberculosis (TB).

Anyway, moving on...

MuggleCast pulled another bad April Fools' Day joke. The worst part about it was, I actually fell for it this time, unlike last year where I knew for sure that it was a joke. (See this post about that, as well as this post, giving my reaction to them finally confessing it was a joke).

Anyway, the joke was about them diversifying the podcast to cover more fantasy fandoms. The show was going to be devoted not just to Harry Potter, but also to Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and a new series called Twilight that is about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. But I guess it isn't true. I was sad to hear this, as I had interest in trying to make a podcast that discussed multiple fantasy fandoms, but hadn't succeeded in figuring out how it would work. Their new show, had it actually happened, would've helped me figure out how to do such a podcast.

They do talk quite a bit about Twilight on both MuggleCast and now PotterCast too; I am kind of tired of that talk because I don't intend on reading Twilight. I'm not into vampire stories, especially after the scare I had reading that vampire-related book series that Que started lending me that I had a nightmare about.

Next little bit...I know this is more than a week too late, but I'll say it anyway: Michael Johns is gone from American Idol. *sigh* Oh well. I did like him and I am sad to see him leave. Kristy Lee Cook (the contestant ousted this week) I didn't care about as much. I always said she looks like some girl from the Baby-Sitters Club. Although looking at pictures now, I realized she doesn't look like Kristy Thomas, like I kept saying. Maybe like Larissa Oleynik (Dawn from the BSC movie), particularly how she looks in 10 Things I Hate About You. Anyway, the big shock with Michael Johns was that he was eliminated during Idol Gives Back week, whereas last year -- when they started Idol Gives Back -- there was no elimination that week.

I was reading something recently that said that the amount of viewers American Idol gets has dropped by more than a million since Sanjaya left. This sounds strange to me -- did he really bring in so many viewers that his absence would have that much of an impact? If so, why?

Mum was wondering what had happened to Melinda Doolittle, the third place finalist from season 6. It turns out she is currently recording an album, due to come out "in June or sooner," and she's going to be joining Michael W. Smith and The Katinas on a Christmas tour. She's also going to be on Smitty's (as Michael W. Smith is often nicknamed) Caribbean cruise tour this summer, according to Smitty's official website.

I have found out that a girl I'm friends with from riding the bus, Chrissy, is a Latter-Day Saint, or Mormon. She is not real Bible-thumper though (or whatever the Mormon equivalent of that is), despite the Mormons' focus on missions. She does carry around a book of what she calls "Scriptures," which contains the Christian Bible and the three Mormon "holy books" (the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price), all in one small volume (known as the "compact version," according to Chrissy). She has this when I see her on my school days, because she goes to "Institute" (the Institute of Religion) on those days, a class/club she goes to to study the kind of stuff that at our age as a Mormon you are supposed to study. There is an actual Institute building in our local area, but to better serve local university students (the age group targeted by the "Institute of Religion" concept), an on-campus group for this purpose has been formed at CSUSM, where Chrissy currently goes to school.

I have tried to be respectful of Chrissy's beliefs, though they differ a good deal from mine. Sometimes it's best not to really say anything to a person about their beliefs, because it can just escalate into something ugly, or feel awkward. Like with Ron (the FAST bus driver) and his beliefs that the end times are happening right now. He cites Scripture to attempt to back up his claims (mainly citing Daniel, not Revelation) but doesn't convince me at all. Mum said, when I told her Chrissy was Mormon, and how I'd responded to it, that it was good to be respectful of Chrissy's beliefs, and that if I was respectful about them then maybe she'd grow to be respectful of my Christian views.

Speaking of which, I brought up (carefully) on Tuesday to Chrissy the fact that I had been watching CNN during lunch (the only channel they play in our school cafeteria) and that they were reporting on what had happened with the ranch in Texas. For those not aware of what I'm talking about, there is a recent news story about a girl who called an abuse hotline to report being abused, and they tracked her down to this ranch in Texas where a group of fundamentalist Mormons are practicing polygamy, despite the fact that the non-Fundamental LDS no longer practice it, and that, by federal law, polygamy is illegal. I asked her what she thought about that, coming from where she does. Her only response was that there were a lot of difference between those sorts of Mormons and her sort of Mormons. I left it at that.

I just went downstairs to check my laundry and the baseball game (Rockies vs. our home team, the Padres) is now in its 14th inning, and supposedly still 0-0. Dang.

Ugh, my nose is so runny. I hope I'm not getting sick.

My friend Tammy, who I hadn't gotten an e-mail from in months, sent me (and the rest of her address book) an e-mail with a link to a YouTube video of an elephant painting a self-portrait. It was kind of cool, but the video itself was kind of boring, since very little went on for a while. Watch it yourself and see if you agree:

Speaking of YouTube videos, I found out recently that the Potter Puppet Pals video "The Mysterious Ticking Noise" won the 2007 YouTube Video Awards. Good for them! I find that video very hilarious. Snape, Snape, Severus Snape...Dumbledore! Gotta love it. I just posted it on my Facebook profile, and here it is too for your enjoyment.

Anyway, can't think of anything else to say, and I'm tired.

I'll end the PotterCast/Potterwatch way:

Keep twiddling those dials! The next password will be "Orpheus." Keep each other safe. Keep faith. Good night!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Considering a job change, The Little Prince movie, Firefly, xxxHolic, etc.

I am about fed up with my job. I have worked almost every day this week straight through, without any breaks, fighting hunger, thirst, tiredness, and the urge to um, relieve myself, and I have still had to stay late every single day I've worked, except today where while I had to stay later than I was scheduled, I was asked to do so by Tori, and it was not the result of not finishing my work on schedule. The only days this week that I have worked and taken a break were Monday and today. I almost could have taken a break yesterday, but when I got to the point where I considered taking a break, I was by myself and was going to be alone until 5:00 when I got off. Therefore, I couldn't leave.

I am uncertain as to the reason for this. I have three guesses, all of which place the blame on a different person (or persons). One reason could be that I am not going fast enough with my work -- and I am capable of speeding myself up if needed -- and in that case the blame would fall on me. Another possible reason is that there are a lot of customers I end up having to help, delaying the completion of my work -- in which case one could say it was the customers' fault, or (to be more fair) the fault of an outside force. And a third reason could be that Tori is simply giving me too much work for a 5-hour shift -- in which case it's her fault.

The third one was debunked by Jennifer (our assistant store manager) today when I went to the office for an obligatory talk given to all of us bakery people about how we can run our department better. She said Tori wasn't giving us more work than we can complete. Although this may just be Jennifer's view of it. The others are valid. Sometimes I do have a lot of customers. And I can't help it if I'm alone and have to help them. On the other hand, I agree that sometimes I am kind of slow in my work. This is usually either cause of fatigue or because of being too thorough or distracted. For instance, it took me almost all of 5 1/2 hours to package, price, and tape two racks of La Brea bread, bag 8 boules of sourdough bread, and some strudel bites. Not too good.

Oh well. I suppose I could find another job, especially since I am thinking I would like to be part-time when I start at Cal State since there are a lot of classes to take -- 21 units just for core major stuff -- and I'd like to get my degree done as soon as possible. My dad said maybe I can get a job at Outreach (the place Andrew used to work at).

I rented a movie version of the book The Little Prince, which I bought and really liked when I read it, from iTunes. I watched it the other day. This version was a musical. I was really saddened by the end where the prince dies -- I didn't remember that from the book.

I also finally watched the first episode of the sci-fi show Firefly, which I had downloaded a while ago. It was pretty good. Long for a TV ep (1 1/2 hours) but good. I may watch more, but not for a bit. I was mad at the Captain for telling Simon Kaylee was dead when she wasn't. But overall I didn't get too emotionally into it.

I finally decided to start reading xxxHolic, a manga series which crosses over with Tsubasa: ReserVOIR Chronicle. I got volume 1 and read it. It was pretty good. Slightly scary too, but in the way that ghosts, etc., are scary.

Well not much else to say. It's late, and I got to get up early tomorrow for work. Spasiba e dasvidanya (Thank you and goodbye), as Ann from One Minute Russian would say.