My Amazing Marvellous Story of the Weekend I Spent In A Coconut Nutshell – An Incredible Work of Staggering Genius!

After a title like that, how can my actual post measure up?!

This weekend has turned out rather depressing. As Toby’s away message said at one point: if this weekend was food, it’d be plain oatmeal with lots of milk. The general idea of two exams next week, with the addition of trying to keep up in reading my Architecture books – possibly the densest texts ever (probably 3x as many words/page as any other textbook I’ve encountered), and the stress of the Atlantic Monthly story coming due in only one month, with no editors returning it to me… You’d hope that 3 months’ advance time would be enough, but apparently it isn’t. In any case, this weekend has been one of work and the occasional good moment. One good moment was realizing that Buy.com has a 30% off sale, and that may affect my dream camera, so if you want to buy it for me now’s the time 🙂

Another of the good moments was going to the Interstate 8 concert with Luke and Ian. They invited 5 other groups: SHM, Fools on the Hill, Rusty Pipes, BU’s coed group, and CDN. Frankly, although it was Interstate 8’s concert, I like the Rusty Pipes and CDN the best, and thought SHM did very well too. Tyler’s Weird Al song, “One More Minute“, especially. As a special starter, Eric and a group of comedian peoples started by tap dancing to “Singing in the Rain.” Eric even got shot at the end of the number, curling up and looking rather more like a dead insect than a dead person. Excellent break between studying.

I was thinking how odd it is, blogging. People read the blog (presumably; I kind of wonder how many really do), and get an idea of what’s happening in our lives, but we still have no idea what’s going on in their lives. It doesn’t really occur to people that that mode of communication is so exceedingly one-sided that we get rather left out of the loop aside from the occasional one-sentence comment (which, frankly, throw us into palpitations of ecstasy). It’s so odd! I’ll mention an event that I blogged to a family member, and they will more often than not reply, “Oh yes, I read that on your blog.” I think anybody who reads a blog should be required to keep a blog, so as to even the playing field. Then again, that would probably also lower our readership by 50 or 60%. Gotta keep thinking on that one.

As a final happy thought, if you are quiet in the kitchen you can hear the pattering of tiny mice feet around on the dropped ceiling. Yes, we have mice above our heads at all times, probably trying to get into our food as we speak. This disturbs us.

– KF –

New Look! Same Great Product!

Ian has slaved all day, and most of yesterday evening, to produce the brilliant product now before you. I admit it; I put him up to it, and some of the ideas were mine, but this masterpiece of HTML-jockeying is all Ian’s. We decided that the background was too dark, but white is too boring; hence the lighter color. Plus, everybody and their mother seems to choose to have a dark background on their web pages/blogs and we felt that something different would make a nice change. The scrollbars remain the same fantastic outlines you love, and of course the content that has you coming back day in and day out will not change one whit. The most major change we made was that now our links are on two separate pages so the blogs have more room. You’ll find the links pages in the darker area at the top of each of our blogs. We hope that you appreciate the effort that continues to go into this page, and if you have any comments or thoughts, do let us know.

– KF –

Thanks, Mom

I got my first letter in probably 3 weeks yesterday, from mom. It was actually a card that intriguingly stated, “If we were hamsters…” and went on from there to suggest we would “snack, we’d nap, we’d think about working out, we’d snack again, nap some more…” and then on the inside perkily concluded, “Hey…wait a minute…” I’m not sure if she’s trying to tell me something or not, but I was thrilled to get the mail in any case. This year has been depressingly mail-light, with the majority of things in my box pertaining to Domino’s Pizza or the Chinese place down the street. I wish I had more friends who sent me letters. Or, for that matter, cared to contact me at all.

Yesterday was, as we all know, Halloween. I expected Clark to have an enormous brouhaha with students dressed up all over the place and ghosts, bats, and pumpkins liberally strewn about. Now, however, I remember how I missed Halloween last year: Clark did nothing, for which I was profoundly glad. Math and Geology dragged by; Lesley and I hung out in between. When I got home Ian and I had a much-needed talk about finances and other boring but vital married-person stuff. Also I started getting my WPI account set up, so now I have an email at WPI (katief@wpi.edu; but don’t bother sending anything there because I won’t touch it, ever) and hopefully within 24 hours will have a myWPI account to check on my Architecture class notes, etc.

On the brigher side, he also suggested we go to Applebee’s for dinner. We haven’t eaten out much (costs a fair amount), but it seemed like a good idea, so we took the 30 minute walk to the Worcester Common Outlets (If you can’t tell from the site it’s an ageing “nice mall wanna-be” which I try to avoid for the most part. Yesterday many costumed children wandered around with their parents, asking for candy at the shops. This made me realize how odd it would be to grow up in a city, where you can hardly go “house to house” as we did as kids. Weird.

Anyway Ian and I both ordered greasy American food – grilled club and hamburger, respectively; we shared each part. Oh it was so good! We hadn’t had anything like that for quite some time, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely – until about halfway home, when we realized there’s a reason we don’t eat that type of food very often. It makes you sick. So we didn’t feel very good the rest of the night, and actually I went to bed at 10:15 because I simply couldn’t stay awake. No surprise I woke up at 9:00 feeling disgustingly perky – 11 hours of sleep will do that to a body. Now it’s 65 out and sunny, so I think I’ll stay inside and beat my Geology into submission.

– KF –

Briefly

Marine Bio drags on as usual, randomly. Yet Topics in 19th and 20th Century Architecture overshadows it by far, stretching a good 2 hours in length, requiring prodigious amounts of reading, and intimidating me already. Rather like some of the 50,000,000,000 slides he showed this lecture. Good thing it’s only 7 weeks long.

Also I now realize that I am disadvantaged because I have no access to myWPI where he will post all future important information. Drat.

– KF –

Let’s Think For A Moment

On the shuttle ride to Clark today I saw a sign pasted to the back of a roadsign. It shouted, BIOTECH FOODS – UNLABELED, UNTESTED, AND IN YOUR NEXT MEAL! I thought about that for a while and decided that in truth the sign didn’t actually mean anything. The group that put it up obviously has an objection to bioengineered foods, and they wish to gain converts to their cause. Yet how do they do this? Try to terrify the general public into mindless hate by posting meaningless but scary-sounding signs (that link isn’t them, specifically, just a couple of many you might find).

I would be interested to hear their reasoning behind their anti-bioengineered food, because I’m betting that they are also against pesticides and pollution. If that is the case, then it would be advantageous for them to support bioengineering to some extent: bioengineered crops reduce, if not eliminate, the need for some pesticides and they are usually hardier, needing fewer fertilizers. In fact, everything we eat to day has been “bioengineered” – people have selected for certain traits in food for millenia; according to the FDA, “…growers have been selecting certain beneficial characteristics such as faster growth or sweeter fruit since our nomadic hunter ancestors began to cultivate crops thousands of years ago. Virtually every domesticated crop plant species today differs greatly from its original, wild form due to human intervention.” This group protesting against bioengineered food then, to be consistent, must also refuse to eat any white eggs (they are naturally brown), orange carrots, or commercially-grown wheat, just to name a few.

It is true that genetically changing organisms can have negative effects. It may select for hardier insects that can eat the changed plants, or perhaps result in cross-breeding with weeds that then become difficult to eliminate. I am unsure the extent to which this trouble can happen; I recall from Bio 101 that much trouble has occured as a result of misuse of genetic manipulation and pesticides. To do some research on the dangers of bioengineering I (desiring to make this as internet-friendly as possible) did a Google search for “dangers of bioengineering.” The first site to come up is Raise the Fist, an apparently fanatical and unreliable source that appears happily undemonstrative of the tone of many anti-bioengineering groups.

In the end, of course, the sign remains pasted there in view of the whole road. People may read it and fear, or they may read it and think. Hopefully they will take the latter course of action. Or we could all just laugh about it.

As a little note on my life, my Marine Bio exam went easily, probably due to my diligent studying. It is easier to be studious in our apartment than in a dorm; that advantage I must give to living away from friends. Also, Jess and Tiffany both got A’s on papers that I edited, which says either something about their writing abilities or my editing abilities, or the combiation of the two. Rain has consistenly dripped the last few days, reminding me very much of home and thus making me happy. If there were mountains here, I’d hardly know I was back East. Finally, I am learning how to live more by myself and less with other people; this involves me attempting not to worry about if that is a good or bad development. I just appreciate time I have with friends, but try not to bemoan the loss of closeness – after all, when I go back to Seattle for good (God willing) these relationships will slowly peter out anyway. Living off campus has simply accelerated the process.

– KF –

Life in this Universe

Yes, it’s that time again: the time when all 3 of my professors put their evil scheming heads together and decide to have all our exams within four school days of each other. One tomorrow, one on November 4th, one on November 5th. I realize that this is a handy amount of material to test on, since in that time you can cover two (or, if you are my Geology professor, five) chapters. I can hardly complain; after all, I do alright on the exams, and my only pressure is to get an A on my Math exam to make up for my dismal performance on the last one. I have gotten 100% on all our quizzes also, so hopefully that will help.

My WPI class starts on Thursday. They do an odd thing where the first day of class, tomorrow, is actually a Friday schedule; this at least exempts me from worrying about that. Worry, because I am terrified that I will forget to attend that class all the time: such a creature of habit am I that I will probably just hang around Clark as usual until 1:00 and suddenly have a heart attack when I realize my WPI class started then. Ian has kindly offered to call me as a reminder, and embarrassing as that may feel I will probably have to take him up on that offer. Kind boy.

I have spent much time thinking about why we’re alive. Obviously the base reason is that my parents had a good night one August; but more than that, if somebody asked me why they were alive, what could I say? There’s the obviously Christian answer: “God has a plan for us, and that’s enough to know.” For a non-believer, what then? I cannot concieve of why one would bother to stay alive if you didn’t know that there was some reason you exist. I think many people make their own reasons: to make money, to become famous, to save peoples’ lives, to have fun. But if you are unhappy with life, why not just end it all? Perhaps that is why 30,622 people killed themselves in 2001, 712 of them in Washingon. They found this: that “The bleakness of the landscape is unimaginable. It is as friendless and alien as a Dali painting. Ordinary concerns, such as work or friends, have no place here. Futility muffles thought; time elongates cruelly. Who is to blame for this situation? Those with depression think it must be them. Pointlessness and self-loathing govern them. So the natural final step is suicide. People with depression don’t kill themselves to frighten an errant boyfriend. They kill themselves because it is the obvious and right thing to do at that point. It is the only positive step they can think of…” (from here). I know that feeling, and if I was braver perhaps I wouldn’t be here today…thank God I am, though, because life is so very worth living despite what hormones and emotions may say contrariwise.

I’m afraid that BCS – fine as that institution is – calluses us to the idea of Christianity. I left BCS feeling that Christianity was just something I “did,” not a real true belief. Church-going remained a holdover most of last year, and not attending forced guilt more than anything else. But when you strip away all the BCSishness of it, I find the most amazing thing: that cliche is true. More and more I am realizing personally that I don’t live for tomorrow, or to see my friends, or to graduate from college (??). I live for Christ, and to find where my life fits into His grand plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says it all: ” ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” If that isn’t affirming and a good reason to live, I don’t know what is.

– KF –