Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Someone really cut a donut in half? Really?

It's not going to make you any skinnier. If you're going to eat a donut, eat a freakin' donut!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Guy Who Walked Into The Office The Other Day

I'm so sorry that you were in the wrong office. I'm so sorry I couldn't help you aside from giving you a phone number for someone who probably can help you out. (It turned out she could, too, so I hope you called her.)

I've been thinking about you. You just looked so tired. Careworn, upset, and tired.

I'm so sorry your son died while he was in jail.

I'm so sorry your son was in jail in the first place.

You seem like a nice guy, and while that's no indication of you being a good father, you seemed genuinely nice and warm, really. You also seemed resigned to your son's death, and I keep wondering if it was something you expected to happen due to his life choices, or perhaps even a mental illness.

I don't know if he was on drugs or schizophrenic; whether your last words were kind and loving, begging him to come home, or if you yelled at him and told him not to come home until he straightened his life out. I don't know if he was at the wrong place at the wrong time and it was all just a big mistake. Heck, you could be a drug kingpin or something, and he could have been an unwitting pawn in your empire. (I doubt it, though.)

All I know is that you looked so tired.

I won't pretend to understand what you're going through. I don't need any explanations or platitudes. I'm not judging you because you can't be responsible for his life choices. I've just been thinking about you. I've been praying for you and hoping that you have the support to get yourself through this. I know it will never be "over" for you, and that you will probably wonder all your life if there was anything different you could have done, but I only know that because of what other people say after having experienced such a horrible occurence in their lives, and by that I mean the death of a child. That he was in prison is irrelevent to me. He was your son, and he always will be.

Please know that you don't carry your burden alone and that you can eventually find peace, perhaps in a support group of some kind, or with your family. But for now, allow yourself to grieve.

He was your son. That will never change.

All my hope for you and your family at this difficult time.

The Girl At The Front Desk Who Couldn't Help You But Really Wanted To

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Science is fun!

The labs that I'm doing are getting better and better. Last night, I used a spectrophotometer. Awww, yeah baby! Yeah! I love this! I feel like all that math is finally worth this, and that I'm getting closer to my goal. This weekend, I'm stopping by the Santa Ana Zoo to see about volunteering.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reading, Reading, Reading

I had a lovely three-day weekend this last weekend, and then I was sick a week ago, so I've done a lot of reading recently. I um...don't really have any sort of TV right now. I mean, I have a TV--I have two--but I don't have cable, so I'm just not able to turn on the Kartrashians anymore and keep up with them as I once did whenever I got sick, so between watching Downton Abbey on the internet and sleeping (with the cat on top of me because he can't possibly sleep anywhere else than exactly on top of me), I've been reading. And studying for biology, but reading is more fun.

So, I finished off the "Five Hundred Kingdoms" saga by Mercedes Lackey by downloading The Snow Queen, which has only a passing fancy with Hans Christian Andersen's beautiful fairy tale (everyone in the story is blonde! Blonde, I say!) and found myself at a loss as to what to do. As far as I can tell, I have completely exhausted all resources of paranormal and Sci-Fi/Fantasy that I find interesting. There is literally not one book Amazon is recommanding that I actually want to read. My friend Cassandra is systematically going through The Vampire Diaries and loathing it, so I really don't want to get started there. Plus, the whole Mercedes Lackey thing sort of turned me off of serial novels for a little while (until Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore comes out, but that's a completely different story), so I sort of feel lost.

I started going through my Kindle and realized that indeed, I have downloading A Lot of Books, and indeed, I have enjoyed a great deal of them. I feel sort of lost here. I asked for book recommendations on my FB page, and one friend recommended stuff, but her style and mine are sort of at odds with each other, another recommended Christian novels that I already know about, and I can tell you that Christian novels are about as much fun as Christian movies, and then my other friend admitted that she takes her recommendations from me, which made me laugh, though I do have excellent taste in books. [/LadyCatherine] (and, had I ever learnt to write, I should be a true proficient!) (oh, wait...)

I've read books that I hated (Twilight, of course, the Cassie Clare saga, and some stupid bit of Alan Rickman worship called The Strangely Beautiful tale of Miss Percy Parker, which is so obviously Harry Potter fanfiction it's laughable, and let us never, ever forget the horror that is Brahm Stoker and In the Lair of the White Worm. Shudder), I've read some that I love (the entire Hunger Games saga, some stuff by Patricia Wrede, a very recent purchase by Neil Gaiman, The Atheist's Daughter by Renee Harrell, and of course Cassandra Parkin's collection of New World Fairy Tales), but reading is addictive, and once you get started, you want more.

The hard part is getting involved in a series before all of the books are released. I remember just WAITING for the last Harry Potter book. After I read Catching Fire, I was counting the days until Mockingjay came out. Now of course Kristin Cashore and Gail Carriger have me hooked on their series (Changeling and Parasol Protectorate, respectively), and I find myself tapping my feet again. "Is it May yet?" "What about now?"

I want more books! More, I say!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Series Review: The Five Hundred Kingdoms by Mercedes Lackey

Having a Kindle is a wonderful thing for me. I get to read books that I normally would pass by without a glance. I'm downloading YA fiction by the bucketful, and I don't think I even know where the YA section is at Barnes and Noble, and then I found the romance section, an area I would have passed by with my nose in the air, but one eye on the covers, or perhaps would have dragged my friend over to and picked up the cheesiest bodice-ripper to tear apart.

Mercedes Lackey falls into the latter category, though I believe she's a "lime" rather than "lemon" author? If I recall, a Lime author teases sex, whereas a Lemon author gives it to you several times a book.

Anyway, I was recommended to read her after I downloaded "Snow White and Rose Red" by Patricia C. Wrede (which I found on Heidi Anne Heiner's blog, Sur La Lune, Ms. Heiner is one of the leading folklorists in America right now), and I thought the snippet of "The Fairy Godmother" sounded good, so I downloaded it, and I was right. The book was great from start to finish.

The book follows Elena Klovis, who is set up to be the Cinderella of her kingdom. The problem is that the prince is only 11 and she's 21, and even though a duke would appease The Tradition (the driving force of the Five Hundred Kingdoms), there's none to be found, and as it turns out, Elena wouldn't have "settled" for anything less than Happily Ever After (but not in a snobby's explained better in the book.).

So what's a would-be-princess to do? Elena's evil stepmother and self-absorbed stepsisters skip town in order to avoid creditors, and Elena decides to hire herself out at a mop fair. That is where she meets the Fairy Godmother for the kingdom she lives in (can't be arsed to remember what it's called). It turns out that someone in Elena's position can become a godmother and help move The Tradition along for people, and help direct it into less horrid tales; for instance we meet a woman who would have been a "Fair Rosalinda", or a woman who is destined to be killed and have her bones turned into a harp, but The Godmother intervened and gave her a normal life. When her daughter is set up to be a Rapunzel, Elena and The Godmother twist The Tradition to make the child a Princess and the Pea. After that escapade is done, The Old Godmother retires, turning Elena into the new Godmother, and her adventures begin.

The best part in this book was that Elena is never a Mary Sue or Speshul Snowflake. She learns to use The Tradition to her benefit, but what she does is not unprecedented. She gains the favor of both the Fairy Queen and King, and while it's rare to have the King's blessing, it's not unprecedented. She also "conserves" her magic, which is a finite force in this world, but that is also something that intellegent Godmothers do, and not some great thing that Elena thinks up on her own.

The Fairy Godmother is a great book to start with, and is the first book in the series, though having read several others, their order doesn't matter as much, because you learn right away about Godmothers, Sorcerers/esses, Hedge Witches/Wizards, Champions, and the basic way The Tradition works.

The second book, One Good Knight, sort of disappointed me, because "Godmother Elena" is made out to be something special in the world, although I suppose if she's The Godmother of a specific kingdom, she is special to that kingdom (she has several kingdoms under her belt, it's true), and by the sleeping beauty story, I was sick to death of white, blonde heroines. I'm currently reading Beauty and the Werewolf, a sort of combination of Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast, and the heroine is still freakin' blonde. It's okay to have dark-haired or even red-haired, or even (gods forbid) dark-skinned and dark-haired heroines, people! I'm expecting an Aladdin-type story with a blonde heroine to come along next because that's what Mercedes Lackey seems to like. I had a hard time with a blonde Snow White, and I'm having an even harder time with a blonde Bella.

Still, the books are good reads, and I'm enjoying them. The sleeping beauty story figured in Sigurd the Dragonslayer (as the German Siegfried) of Norse mythology, and since it and Der Niebelungenleid are my favorite Norse myth (you can keep the rest of the Volsunga Saga), I really enjoyed that one. Overall, I'd give the series a B.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A girl's got a cold

I've spent the last two days trying to find a way to hold my head that didn't hurt. I don't know where it came from, but I got a really bad cold, and I missed class AND lab. It was really horrid. The last thing I wanted to do. When I left this morning, my cat was looking up at me like, "But where are you going? Aren't we going to cuddle in bed now?"

I kind of feel like I have to get work done today because Monday's a holiday but I'm sort of dead in the water right now. I'm totally making that "nnnnnggggggg..." sound.

I wish I knew how I did on the test that I took Monday. I think I did all right. I may have confused prokariotic cells with eukariotic cells, but I'm sure I did okay.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Test, test

I have my first bio exam tonight, and I'm sitting here looking at the study guide going, "What the frick is endocytosis? We never learned that in class! Foul! Foul, I say!"

And's in my notes.

I'm starting to wonder if I've gone all Gunnerkrigg Court fairy and am able to somehow take notes while not engaging my brain at all. That would be awesome.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Author Review: Frances Hodgson Burnett

I'm a reader. There's no denying that. When it comes to information, I soak it up like a sponge and then digest it. Sometimes over days, sometimes months. I've always been this way, reading.

When I was in the fourth grade, so maybe 9-years-old?, a teacher handed me "The Secret Garden" to read because I'm sure she thought I'd enjoy it. I mean, what's not to enjoy? A garden that's a secret! Wow!

Yeah, um...even as a child, I knew that a bird showing a kid where to find a key to open a garden was a stupid, stupid bit of plotting. I put the book down and didn't finish it. Keep in mind that I forced my way to the end of "In the Lair of the White Worm" by Brahm Stoker. This book was bad.

In the 90's, Francis Ford Coppola made a movie using the book as a jumping-off point. I eventually saw it at the cheapie theatre, because I remembered my disappointment at the book, and I just fell in love with what Coppola did. Then again, he's Coppola. Of course it was magnificent.

Well, now I have a Kindle, and amazingly, Burnett's books are free! So I downloaded a few of them. I went with "A Little Princess," "The Lost Prince," and "The Secret Garden" and started reading.

How did this woman ever get famous? Can someone please explain this? I mean, her books aren't horribly written like Cassandra Clare's monstrosity "City of Bones," or navel-gazing like Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" saga, they're just horribly, horribly improbable.

"The Secret Garden" centers around Mary finding a secret garden, and the stuff she does in it with her cousin, and her waiting maid's younger brother.

Cool your jets, it's nothing like that. Really. You'd think that the garden would be the dark, evolutionary, forest-like component from a fairy tale where Mary, Colin and Dickon come to adulthood in some sensual plot, but it's really just three kids kicking around in a garden, teaching Colin to walk, and getting fat on food that Dickon's mom makes.

Dickon, by the way, is old enough to have a job (in Victorian times, five was old enough to have a job), but he doesn't work, he just fannies about with his birds and beasts while his sister Martha works her butt off to put food on the table for their giant family. I can't tell you how much I hate Burnett's treatment of servants in her stories, but I keep ascribing it to the times they were written in. Seriously, though, it's pretty horrible. When Lord Craven returns from the continent, it's Mary and Dickon who are praised for helping Colin when really Martha and her mother did all the work. It was horrible.

"A Little Princess" fares no better. Sara is set up to be a grand dame in her school, only to fall on hard, penniless times. The change in this story is that there is a clear antagonist. Miss Minchin is cruel in a way that you don't usually find in children's novels. With the unimaginative way that Burnett writes, I have to wonder if she was based on someone Burnett knew in real life.

When Sara is reduced to scullery maid after her father's death, Burnett actually deals with the hunger, the pain, the humiliation of being one of the working class in a realistic way. Sara's room is now in a drafty garret with no fire on the grate, and a very thin blanket. But then classism comes into play again. An "Indian gentleman" (a white guy from India) comes to live next door and brings his "servant" (I'm not convinced he's not a slave) with him. The servant decides that his master would enjoy making Sara's life easier.

Now, keep in mind that Sara has a little friend, Becky, who is a scullion and who has been abused her entire life. Sara has only been abused the last year of her life. Sara is naturally the one that her neighbors decide to be nice to. All Becky gets is Sara's mattress and blanket to make her more comfortable. If Sara weren't charitable, Becky wouldn't have food or drink from the stuff the neighbor brings. It isn't until after Sara invites Becky that a place setting is even made for her. This really infuriates me, but then again, I'm looking at it from a futuristic lense. I wonder if people in the Victorian age just didn't think about that?

The resolution is every bit as improbable as Burt Reynolds singing in French in the middle of downtown DC. The neighbor, it turns out, was Sara's father's business partner, and has been looking for Sara for ages. He has all her money and her status and whisks her and Becky away from the horrible school. Becky, naturally, gets to be Sara's waiting maid. Grit your teeth as you please.

"The Lost Prince" was the last book I read, and the most readable. It follows Marcus through the intrigues of a civil war in a foreign country, and the one thing this country needs is its "lost prince," a person of nobility who several hundred years ago was saved from an assassination attempt (by his own father, I think?) and who went on his way when the country fell to dissolution.

The improbability of the story comes in the form of a bloodline that somehow managest to not diminish over the generations of several hundred years. The prince who can assume the throne in the present time looks exactly like the prince who was nearly assassinated, and somehow every generation bore a son exactly like that. I mean, I suppose that somehow that could happen, but it's more improbable than Burt Reynolds singing in French in the middle of downtown DC. I mean, it's just not going to happen.

But the book is very readable and enjoyable. Burnett manages to break through class barriers when boys are concerned, apparently, or perhaps she became enlightened before writing the book. Still, Marcus's little friend is sometimes left to starve or freeze during one of Marcus's many adventures.

On the whole, I give this woman a D+ when it comes to writing. Too fanciful by half, too convoluted.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Take it to the more tiiiiiiime

The title has nothing to do with this post. I just have that song in my head, thanks, Don Henly.

Last night's biology lab was hard. Not because I didn't know what I was doing, but because I was supposed to be looking for a paramecium, and I couldn't find one. Then the professor came over, and he was looking for it, and he couldn't find it. And it turns out that I didn't have one on the slide.

So, I got a new slide and I found it. Then I dunked the slide in bleach water because I just looked at some spinning single-celled organism, and then I killed it. I am play gods!

The house is still a mess, but I finally managed to find our cable modem. And then it didn't work, so we're probably going to have to have some guy come down and fix it for us because that's what you do. I hate this. Can I never ever move again, please?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Parraje de amor

I should give a little shout-out to "my" (not really my) bird, who has been a trooper during the move. I don't really...I'm not...Oh, I don't know how to say this. I never wanted a bird, and it's not his fault that his daddy left him with me, promising to return for him, and then never did so. But I can't help that I never wanted the bird, and I have him, and I have to take care of him because I won't let myself not take care of him. Anyway, he's a dumb bird, but when it comes to moving, he's a trooper.

My cat sank into the Pit of Despair pretty much the second I put him into his carrier, but Rain was like, "Chirp! Chiiiirrrrrp!" I put them in my mom's car, and Mr. Chekhov started mewling like a hurt kitten, but Rain was like, "Chiiiiiiirp-chirp-cheep!"

I joke a lot about Rain's life expectancy (he's overlived it by four years so far, but my beloved guinea pigs just barely made it past theirs), and how I'll miss him when he dies, can he get on that soon? and then there's the whole, "Do you want to fly outside? Just for a few minutes?" routine that we go through...but the truth is that he's gained a toehold in my affections. He's grown on me. (Like a fungus...hey, I'm here all night!) I really do love that little nutball with feathers, and he's a real pain in the butt and he poops indiscriminately on everything, but I can't help it.

So, Rain, you'll never hear me say this again, but you've been a good bird.

Now pleeeeaaaaaase stop chirping so I can get some sleep already!

Oooh...edit...I wanted to add a little antecdote about one of our movers. He kept trying to say that what we own is expensive and it was any of his business. He told me that Rain is really expensive and told me what his name would be in Spanish (he was under the impression that Rain is a parakeet...he's a love bird...), and was like, "He's an expensive bird." I said, "he wasn't for me." "Oh? How much did you pay for him?" "Nothing. He was my brother's, and my brother left him with me when he joined the army" thinking, "that's why he has such a stupid name. who names a bird Rain?" The guy was like, "They cost 150 at the swap meet!" and I'm like, "Anyone who pays that much for a dumb bird deserves to get taken for that much money!" Seriously? 150? I do think that my brother paid more for him than that, and I still think it was ridiculous. I ended by telling the guy that I don't buy animals, that "Yo adopto de un centro de rescate, es por que yo creo en adoption." I still don't think he believed me.