Notes from the day

Today marks the first major bill Ian and I paid as a married couple: the $7,980-odd for next month’s Clark tuition. Of course, the bill should have gone to Kirkland first, and we’re not sure why it came to Ian’s box. Still, paid. Actually we’ve paid $1,000 a month rent for the last 6 months. Also speaking of bills, I got a notice in my mail box today from my insurance company. A few weeks ago I thought I was sick (wrong), but I went to talk to them anyway. Here’s what the bill says: “Your insurance carrier requires the following information for each accident or sickness claim submitted.” Blah blah blah… and then it says, “For: DOS 10/13/03 Billed Amt $7 for UMass Memorial.” What’s going on here? I went to Health Services at Clark and talked to them, peed in a cup, etc. No going to UMass Memorial involved here. The form asks me to explain the nature of my illness, but I was never ill – I never went! Some things in the adult world are just beyond me.

Another thing that’s beyond me: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Lesley, Elizabeth, and I watched it for a while this afternoon. The cut a guy’s hair and shaved off his beard, redecorated his house, bought him new clothes, the works. But here’s my question: if he was negligent enough to let his hair and beard grow really long in the first place, why would a one-day makeover make a difference? And OK, his walls are painted pretty colors now – by a gay guy, OK, so that’s a little cool – but will all the wood keep shining like there’s no tomorrow? Keeping up a house takes work (darn it all), and who’s going to polish all that wood all the time? The show amused us though, as did making snide remarks about the ads on TV. I have got to say: ads are terrible. Not just in the time-wasting aspect although that’s bad – but I mean the actual ads themselves. Why should seeing a random guy jump into an aquarium, swim around, and have a fish pulled out of his pocket make you go to Atlantis? Or the annoying guy shouting about the value of the OxyClean set he’s willing to give you for ONLY $19.99! VALUE OF $35.00! The list keeps going. Some of them are completely incomprehensible, and none of them make me want to buy that product (although I will admit the Ebay ads are amusing. Scary, but amusing).

Mom sent us a package in the mail, which we finally received. Disappointingly, it contained no food, but she had stuffed the box full of new clothes. Pyjamas, specifically. For me: red fuzzy stuff. Red is not my color at all, but they are pyjamas (I never have been clear on how to spell that word) after all. For Ian however… she bought red hot chili pepper PJ pants. I laughed so hard I cried when Ian told me what she’d sent. It’s great when moms just come through like that. Like the Christmas she gave me dried food, underwear, and stamps. As I recall, however, we gave her the Dave Barry Gift Guide book, which included 1 lb of real human fat shaped into a nice pudding with 1 LB on top, as well as a plethora of other wonderful gifts (think beer bottle slippers that made farting noises when you took a step). So all in all that Christmas felt quite even. I’m not sure what to do about the chili pepper pants though.

Also, a question: I have my margin for this blog set at 2.7% and it keeps bringing up a bottom scroll bar, which I don’t want. It’s at 2.7% because the scrollbar appeared at 3.0% but didn’t at 2.7% – so I just left it. Then it appeared at 2.7 so I took it down to 2.0% – and the bar stayed! Now I’m wondering a) what the heck would cause this; and b) can I just disable the bottom scroll bar somehow?

– KF –

US Postal Service Comes Through Again

Last week I ordered Fateful Harvest, by Duff Wilson, from Amazon.com affiliate ElephantBooks. I read it as a senior in high school in conjunction with my Independent Study Environmental Science class and enjoyed it very much; also now I found myself with the assignment of explaining potential hazards to water systems in Washington State and this book could have had some applicable sections. The book itself, used, cost $2.29; I paid approximately $6 additional to ship it second-day, so as to get it in time to incorporate the material into my paper. Unfortunately, it did not arrive yesterday as promised. I felt rather disgruntled about this, because I paid almost triple the price just to get it fast.

Well. Today I checked my mail; lo and behold! a pink slip sat happily in my box just waiting for me to retrieve it. Accordingly, I went to the window and presented my slip, signed it, and was queried as to the sender. This is not normal procedure; usually they simply request to see the student ID card and give you a pen to sign the slip. The attendant explained that “there was no last name, so we wanted to be sure it was the right person.” No last name? What was she talking about? Well, I got the package, and everything came clear. The address was as follows:

Katie

Po Box 1927

PO Box 1927

Worcester, MA 01610

No mention of Clark University (Mom, take note: no e on Clark), or 950 Main Street. Across the top, in ballpoint pen, somebody wrote: NEED LAST NAME! In big red marker across the bottom of the oversized envelope somebody had written NOT AT HOLY CROSS! Frankly, after seeing this, I am plain impressed by the US Postal Service and the mail room workers. It took some sleuthing to figure out where in zip code 01610 this Katie with PO Box 1927 might actually reside.

Note on life: Most excitingly, Dad got a letter to the editor published in the Seattle Times! Read the one by Joe Sullivan about 3/4 of the way down the page. In Massachusetts news, the MA Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay marriage. In my life news, Eight days until Jess and Tiffany come for Thanksgiving; between now and then, I will begin and end stressing about my Architecture midterm. He’s giving us a study guide, thank goodness. I hope Jess’s piercing goes OK, and that she doesn’t do her tongue. I don’t know if I could stand to talk w/her in person if I could see & hear a tongue piercing (they drive me nuts. Ick!)…

– KF –

I Think I Can

Two things to start with: 1) the post from Nov. 15, “Links to Everywhere,” has been taken down as per webmaster Ben’s request & all pics removed. Fair enough. 2) The following post was born from a snippet of conversation that took place between myself and Ernie earlier today. I cannot shake the conviction that I bore him, and nearly every one of the other few people I converse with. That said, here is what I wrote out by hand as I digested our conversation, as well as some new observations:

How strong is the power of thought? In his book The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams explains a phenomenon that he experienced but cannot explain: thoughts, and thoughts alone, changing the physical world. Now, I have a strange dual mix of beliefs, for on one hand I firmly – unshakeably – believe in the most basic Christian tenants in which God became a man, died for our sins, and rose again live and well after three days. On the other hand, I have passed through enough scientific training to have a healthy skepticism for inexplicable superstitions such as the idea that “thinking bad thoughts causes bad things to happen.” That is the constant dynamic struggle for the analytical-minded Christian: how to reconsile our desire for empirical evidence with our complete and simple faith in Christ? A knotty problem, surely.

Yet many people swear that what you think directly influences reality, and not just because you take action on your thoughts. Somehow, thinking a thing may make it happen, so don’t think of failing this exam! Scott Adams claims that through thinking positively, and with no major behavioral changes, he became a bestselling author and cartoonist. He offers other examples in which he believed that he would encounter high-payoff stocks, and lo and behold, the stocks he felt compelled to buy (but didn’t) suddenly increased drastically in price. Ernie told me that I shouldn’t ask what the worst possible thing that could happen to him was: it would cause something bad to happen.

Now, what to think of this firm belief? Perhaps he was just dodging my question (lots of people do that to me); but many people share that same firm – if irrational – conviction of something. In fact, I act exactly the same as everybody else, for what is Christianity but an irrational belief? Oh, we call it “faith,” a belief in that which you cannot see, believing without proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that he lives today. That we, His followers, have found the only door to heaven. Why, then, should Scott Adams’s power of thinking not exist also? Why not telekinesis, or teleportation, or mind-reading? I cannot say that none of those exist, but I do know that God created an ordered universe, and such things are not within the regular framework of His design – that we know of. How can I call the demand to think positively “superstitious” and still be consistent with my faith? Truthfully, I cannot answer my own question; but I can also set it aside and know that is part of who I am as a Christian and a quasi-scientist. So I still can say that Christianity is true, while other beliefs are not – are superstition.

On the other hand, if somebody across the room levitated my pencil, I might just have to rethink my views.

– KF –

Hooray!

Though the title implies happiness, in truth that state continues to elude me. I completed my Geology paper’s first draft, yet I feel as if I have completed nothing: the mountain of work looming over me remains as tall as ever. I shall not list the sorrows; only know that ten thousand of them oppress me and darken the world in my eyes.

Also, I admit to have perhaps read too much Kim and Arabian Nights. As a final thought, does it disturb anybody else that big companies can sell radioactive waste from Hanford to farmers and call it fertilizer? Or dump some 350 million gallons of radioactive waste into Eastern Washington – to eventually seep into groundwater and thence into the Columbia River – and have no reprecussions?

– KF –

Every time I update my Blog (read: daily) I get the Celine Dion song A New Day Has Come ringing in my head. It’s almost enough to make one decide to stop blogging. Another thing that might stop people from blogging: Moms. The Onion’s amusing article on the subject, however, only applies when you’re a scummy, lifeless 30-year-old who has to resort to casual sex and Ectasy for thrills.

So, life quickly since at this hour metaphysical speculation tends to elude my grasp. Ian bought a $20 used 4.1 speaker system to replace my solitary speaker/subwoofer “system” and I cannot say how exciting it is to have actual functioning speakers. Before I had two regular ones and a micro-woofer; one cut in and out, but usually preferred to stay off. I cannot say how pleased I feel to turn my speakers on and have all four reliably start and continue to function until my computer crashes. The computer presents its own troubles, namely crashing so often it at least doubles my paper-writing time. Frustrating, really; fortunately my Save Reflex – developed last year as the problem began – serves me well and a I rarely lose important material. Still, I dream of having a machine that will turn on and remain in that state until I desire to turn it off.

My major project right now is writing a paper with this topic: “The goal will be to find out the major source of water in Western Washington, see what the major pollutants/risks to that water supply are, and include a short discussion of the general meteorology of Washington.” Unfortunately it appears that topic doesn’t particularly interest scientists, making my topic a great deal hader. Ah well, I shall simply have to consider it practice for my future (hopefully) in journalism.

In other news, Jess has decided to stay here longer – until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving! This pleases both of us greatly and opens up possibilities of time spent together much better than a couple crazy days in the kitchen with Tiffany. Also, Ian has dismantled my old subwoofer and was dismayed to find enormous globs of glue holding wires to the board – barely any soldering at all. No wonder it barely worked! In removing the glue, however, he snapped off the tip of our Exacto knife – quite a piece of skill, if you ask me. Finally, I made muddy buddies today and in the process produced ridiculously enormous volumes of smoke. Something on a burner was, well, burning and I noticed but didn’t worry; no flames, no problem (right?). That was until I left the kitchen and returned to find the entire common room and kitchen hazed with smoke. By hazed, I mean so thick if we had fire alarms in there they would have gone off like nobody’s business. I could barely see. Calmly I turned off that burner, opened a window, and used a fan to suck the air out of the apartment into the Great Outdoors (Dad’s lovely picture). No problem. Muddy Buddies turned out quite tasty, though Eric only proclaimed them “OK.” Some people don’t know fine food when it slaps them in the face (“OUCH!”).

All this to say, life’s actually just normal right now. Doing a lot of math – my prof did a weird thing where he allowed us to choose our own weighting for different things. So I get to decide how important my quizzes, 2 midterms, and final exam are. Very strange, but I’m not complaining! – working hard on the Geology paper, and stressing radically about my Architecture reading, midterm, and paper. Life as usual, basically.

– KF –

Metaphysics By the Ear

Ernie’s away message at one point read, “Ever wonder if life is just a illusion and we are already in heaven or hell?” (to which I reply, if this is heaven why should this illusion be so crappy?) That made me wonder: what if we just made everything up in our heads and nothing around us is actually real? What if we’re all crazy and locked up, but living in an imaginary world? What if the people I think I’m interacting with are just a figment of my mind, behaving as I expect them to? Of course, one idea is that if I imagined everybody, they would be nice to me and my friends would act like friends – call me, spend time with me, not offer reasonable reasons not to spend time together (“homework” and “laundry” being most popular). Still, it is concievable that since I have such a low self esteem, I’m not likely to people a world with friendly, consistent beings. So how are we to know that what we see, smell, touch, and feel are actually real? In fact, that raises the question: what is real?

Say I eat a sandwitch. I have to walk to the kitchen, get out bread, mayonnaise, cheese, meat, and pickles. I can watch my hands do the proper motions, but how am I to know if the (real?) knife I’m holding is actually cutting real cheese? I raise the bread to my mouth; jaw muscles contract, teeth bite, then my hands pull the sandwitch away to tear it. I masticate, tasting the pleasant blend of flavors. But do I really taste them? Or am I just eating mush and thinking it’s a sandwitch? The sound playing in the background – waves of sound moving through the air, vibrating little hairs in my ears, and converted into electrical signals my mind interprets as “beautiful music.” Yet what is to say that music is real at all? Beethoven heard music in his head that was never played; but the question is, is any of the music we hear more than just in our own minds? Because they probably wouldn’t play “Fisherman’s Blues,” from the Waking Ned Devine soundtrack, in a padded room at my request.

Basically: what makes the world we’re living in, which is so innately believeable, actually the truth as opposed to a wonderful beautiful fantasy made up to cope with the horrors of the real real world? Of course I could get into religion, but I think I won’t this time because if I just imagined this…

– KF –