September 30, 2003

English Lit Presentation Day! Run!!!

It has been quite a day today, as I predicted yesterday. It did not, however, turn out quite as I predicted. Chapel was a big disappointment as FL proved to be a no show today. Plus, I was a little worried after my group's practice run-through of our presentation for English Lit. Suffice to say that less than an hour and a half before the presentation, things did not look as if they had come together, and more than one of us seemed ill-prepared. I will admit that I myself seemed ill-prepared, but I wasn't. It looked that way because I was doing a practice run on a Power Point presentation . . . without Power Point.

I wasn't nervous about speaking in front of people, at least. I feel fairly confident about that, most of the time. That was what I was telling myself, at any rate. Then I got to class, and people started coming in, and I realized, "Oh, yeah. There are nearly 40 people in this class. Oh, yeah. I have to stand up first and get things started." Then, I got nervous. Nerves, I can handle. I helped Dr. Watson boot up the computer and find my Power Point dilly, he read a brief (but relevant) devotional, and it was time to go.

Immediately, problem number one rears its ugly head. The stupid little hand-held slide clicker that I can aim at the projector won't work, and I'm forced to go with the keyboard as I advance, point by point, through the slides. The keyboard, of course, proves to be severely crippling. I must hold it in both hands, and constantly move around to aim it at that dorky little cabinet that houses all the equipment. The thing was seriously cramping my style . . . I spent the first few points still attempting to maintain eye contact with my audience. I would absent-mindedly set the keyboard down on the front desk as I faced them to expound upon each sub-point, only to pick it up a few seconds later and have to walk around in front of the cabinet again. The flow was suffering.

Eventually, I just had to stand still and face the screen (turning my back on Dr. Watson, from whence my grade would come, always bad) and it pretty much looked like I was standing there reading it, which I wasn't (I had only given myself vague points to reference from, anyway). In the midst of this adapting process, I completely passed over one of my key points. It was the kind of key point that isn't missed when you don't mention it, but which I kicked myself for afterwards when it occurred to me.

I remembered, while I still had a good head of steam, that I had left my notes sitting on my desk and I had to go over and get them as I talked. Fortunately, I sit right in front of the screen, five feet from the podium. No biggie. Between the fifth and sixth slides, I became a bit more unfamiliar with the ground I was covering and I actually had to refer to my notes. Unfortunately, since I had been successfully running from memory, I had to stop for several seconds and find my place (eight pages of notes).

In spite of these difficulties, my audience laughed when they were supposed to laugh (very little else truly matters to me) and I was able to bring my part to a successful conclusion. After that, it all hung on my group members. I sat, and watched, and waited. They did fine. The costumes used by the guys from Club were quite creative (which is something I have come to expect from that particular floor). The group discussions were guided firmly, and there was an encouraging level of class participation. I'm rambling again . . . The point is, we got a 92.

Got tons of work done this afternoon, thankfully, which does nothing to explain why I'm still up. It does a great deal to explain how I'm managing to go to bed as soon as I finish this, however. "Inklings" was its usual fun self. We went to Dr. Woodring's house for the evening and basically read to each other for two hours. While I felt that we could have dwelt a little less on making large numbers of (sometimes) petty points during the discussion, and so progressed farther than we did, I had a good time.

Guatemala stuff: Two massive wrecks involving pickups.

These accidents are as ridiculous as they are common. The first apparently involved a pickup that was traveling too fast when it hit a pothole and the driver lost control. He was consumed in the subsequent blaze, along with a 10 year old and a 12 year old who were riding in the cab. Here's the insane part: 17 of the people who were riding in the back, were injured. When I say pickup, I'm not talking any F-350 or anything like that (although 17+ passengers would obviously still be ridiculous), this was probably some little Japanese or Korean job.

The second seems to have taken place when the pickup drove off . . . if I'm reading the article right (and I am), the bloody thing drove off of a thousand foot cliff; never a good idea. The insane thing is that only two people died. 14 were injured. I have no idea how this is possible unless they landed on a 50 foot pile of eiderdown or something.

I ask certain personages again: You think the running of a red light will even make me the slightest bit nervous? Most accidents you read about involve buses, because bus drivers have this scary mix of homicidal and suicidal tendencies and they like to (literally) live on the edge. However, when these things do involve pickups, the results are not pretty. These people literally perch on the sides of the bed, most of their bodies hanging over the edge, while the driver takes curves near (see above) 1,000 foot cliffs at reckless speeds on two-way roads which are approximately a pickup and a half wide. And you wonder why my hair went white prematurely. Wait . . . nevermind.

Well, it's insanely late for someone who is getting up for a Bib Lit test at 7:15 tomorrow. Good night, y'all.

Posted by Jared at 02:12 AM | TrackBack

September 29, 2003

Are you on drugs?

Well, I wrote this whole entry on the weekend, but it sucked, so I got rid of it. If I'm going to write something that sucks, I should at least be trying for that particular effect. Besides, this was a pretty standard weekend. Bible study, yakking until the wee hours, sleeping through most of Saturday, pretending to do work before the evening and onward RPG session, church Sunday morning, desperate attempts at homework Sunday afternoon, dinner and a movie with The Crew. The only difference thrown in this weekend was an extra movie Saturday night. And if you haven't seen 1776 yet, then go now. NOW, FOOL!

Just wait until the week starts again . . . that's when things get interesting. The big presentation for English Lit is tomorrow, there's a Bud chapel, and of course we have Inklings . . . And that's just Monday. Tuesday is coming. Did you bring your coat? (I finally went and found that and watched it, by the way. And if you have any shred of decency or common sense left, and you haven't seen it, you won't follow the link.)

Anyway, today's news from Guatemala: "Every day, more young people and adults can acquire cocaine, marijuana, crack, heroin, ecstasy and other drugs anywhere in the country."

I was under the impression that crack and cocaine were pretty much . . . never mind. I just report the news, I don't write it. What do I know, anyway? This is just about the biggest "No, duh" article I've read in awhile (barring our illustrious campus rag). It informs me that more widespread circulation of drugs is linked directly to higher use of drugs within Guatemala. It also lets us know that anyone can be a victim of taking drugs. Drugs don't discriminate by race, gender, or social status. At highest risk, surprisingly, are people between the ages of 15 and 30. And we are told that different people often have different reasons for turning to drugs.

Basically, if you've never heard the term "illegal drug" before, and don't know what it is, go look it up, then run this article through BabelFish. I'm sure you'll find it very informative. Otherwise, just click on the link and marvel at the picture. As far as I know, it's the kind of picture that doesn't generally get published (maybe not even taken) for American newspapers. Prensa Libre gets the most amazing *sic* pictures. They take snapshots of things when most people would be dropping the camera and running either towards the scene to take action, or away to get out of the line of fire. Buncha psycho Guatemalan journalist nutcases . . .

Btw, if you've ever followed my links to the Prensa site, and scrolled down, then you've probably noticed, and been annoyed by, the little pop-up which follows along beside you. If I ever get hold of a Guatemalan Marketing Dictionary I'll let you know for sure, but I'm pretty sure subtlety isn't in there. Anyway, this is the place where my mother shops for groceries every week. It's a supermarket chain which pretty much has a stranglehold on the Guatemala and El Salvador grocery business. The name is HiperPaiz (pronounced EE-pair PIE-ees), and it's the Central American equivalent of a Super WalMart . . . With about 5% of the variety.

The issue of Guatemalan marketing practices is all sorts of wonderful fun (right next to Mexican soap operas, and Hispanic local TV in general), but it will have to wait for another day. Bed time! Good night, y'all.

Posted by Jared at 01:48 AM | TrackBack

September 27, 2003

It's almost here!

Go. Just . . . go.

Posted by Jared at 03:32 AM | TrackBack

September 26, 2003

Looming English Lit Presentations and Guatemalan Anarchy

Let me start off by saying that the FRs from above have been corrected, and that I stumbled across a fun little visual while trying to find a picture to link to. So, check out that new link in yesterday's post, and read what's in the little purple box at the top of the page to find what I was running a search on (just to see what I'd turn up).

Well, after this morning's well-balanced breakfast of two chocolate donuts and a glass of Mr. Pibb ("Put it in your head"), I found my way over to MSC. This is, of course, in keeping with the morning routine on Chapel days. Anyway, while there I met with my group from English Lit I to talk more about our presentation.

Interesting group, that. Two senior MEs (from Club, no less), and a junior ME . . . and, of course, my humble sophomore English major self. Interesting group. Our presentation is to be on Sir Thomas More, and we (by which I mean "they") mostly discussed the special effects required to chop of More's head at the climax of the presentation. I believe we decided on doing it behind a white sheet, spattering gore (red water or ketchup) on the thing as the fatal blow was delivered, and rolling a bowling ball out from behind the sheet with a picture of Sir Thomas' face somehow attached. Later, during English Lit, we approached Dr. Jim Watson with the idea, just to be safe.

Direct quote from Dr. Jim Watson: "Be discreet, gentlemen. Be discreet." I think we're scrapping the gore.

Back to MSC . . . At this point I trotted back over to rejoin the usual breakfast crew. I pulled forth my print-out of the Power Point presentation for Wilson to inspect so that he could tell me that it was utter crap and go to work on suggesting improvements. He performed both duties admirably, and the presentation is, I think, much more palatable now. But I ramble . . .

Moving on, after a pleasant nap in Diff. Eq. and an even more pleasant visit to Dr. Coppinger's office with Wilson and Moore, I spent awhile on Flooders. We engaged in a delightful exercise involving comparisons between . . . Ha! I just scared the crap out of three people or so . . .

Today's news from Central America: "Senahu has no police force."

The municipality of Senahu is entirely without police right now, it looks like. The chief of police and his four officers had to run for it some days ago when a mob tried to lynch them. Apparently they were trying to apprehend an armed man (it is unclear whether the man had actually done anything). It seems that they chased him into the mayor's house, where he remained holed up, and then couldn't gain entry themselves. The mayor issued forth to yell at them, and angrily informed them that the man was his bodyguard. Somehow, he rallied an angry mob of about 550 people, and they attacked the police officers, who wisely fled the area.

Senahu is located about 155 miles north of the capital of Guatemala. It seems to be a particularly lawless region. I seem to recall that this was the place where a justice of the peace was besieged for three days inside the courthouse before a mob broke in and killed him. The police were chased out of town back then, too, and the road was blockaded so no one could get into town. I have a solution to what is appears to be a difficult problem for the Guatemalan government to solve. It involves massive amounts of ordinance. Stupid little punk municipalities need to get in line . . .

So, yeah . . . just got back from racquetball with Andy (from my floor), Uncle Doug, Martinez, and McBride. The first two games were me and Martinez vs. Andy and Uncle Doug. Andy hasn't ever played before, so Martinez and I cleaned up. Then I played against Uncle Doug . . . and Uncle Doug mopped the floor with me. These old guys . . . I tell you what . . . OW! Uncle Doug is smacking me . . . Anyway, then I played Andy twice, with predictable results.

Bible study in an hour and a half and I'm going to play video games with McBride.

Posted by Jared at 09:01 PM | TrackBack

Stupid Presidents

I set a new record today. Well, I think it's a record, anyhow. I guess someone somewhere has done better than this, most likely. If you have any pertinent information on the subject you can let me know.

Anyway, the record: 3 minutes from a sound sleep in my bed to sitting in class smiling at Dr. Woodring. Fastest turn-around ever. (Keep in mind the effort it takes to return Woodring's evil, welcome-to-my-world smile at the best of times.)

I have 5 alarm clocks, but I only use 3 or 4 on any given day. And, of course, I never get out of bed until the final alarm goes off. Today, it didn't go off. I should probably mention at this point that my final alarm is A. P. Martinez. Mr. Martinez overslept this morning as well, you see . . . No matter. I didn't miss the quiz. I shall be setting that extra alarm clock, henceforth, at a later time so that I will have a safety net. I don't think that much adrenaline would be good for my system if it started pumping a second time.

Payton's story from Speech class today (told in 3rd person omniscient for my sake):

Awhile back, Payton had a speech class on a day when the air-conditioning wasn't working, so the room was unbearably hot. He gave the class a 15 minute assignment, and they all went outside by MSC to work on it. After it had been completed, they moved into the shade up against the building and the students started taking turns speaking (I'm guessing it was one of his famous "impromptu" days).

What he didn't realize was that they were standing right in front of Fearless Leader's window. So suddenly FL comes out of his office, walks up to Payton, and puts his hand up on his shoulder in an extremely . . . "friendly" way. "Am I being protested?" he asks. Payton assured him that he wasn't being protested, and he just stood there for awhile . . . with his hand still resting (un)comfortably on Payton's shoulder.

As soon as class had finished, he went back to his office and sent FL an e-mail saying he was sorry for the disturbance. FL replied within 60 seconds, telling him it was no problem at all and he was happy to see some "real learning" for once.

Direct Quote from Col. Payton: "I wonder if he thinks there's any unreal learning going on?"

Daily Word from President Alfonso "The Chicken Man" Portillo: "The curse of power is loneliness."

The link is to an interview conducted with this great man in his hotel room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. How shall I attack him? Let me count the ways . . . (This is a rant):

First, the quote: Where the hell does this guy get off? What, he has power? And he's talking about being cursed?! He's sitting in what is probably the most luxurious freaking hotel in America, and judging from his appearance, and the empty dishes in front of him, that baby fat ain't goin' nowhere fast. How many people are starving because of this guy?! Like, uh, millions . . .

Now, the interview: First question, "With 112 days left in your administration, what would you say your chief accomplishments have been?" Correct answer: Ripping off the public, screwing with the constitution, traveling the world, and talking like a Chicken Man. Portillo's answer: Well, uh . . . I'm sure many of the effects of my work will be seen in the future, but to name a few . . . We really helped the economy (inflation went from Q6 to the dollar up to about Q8.5 during his term). We got rid of several monopolies, namely cement, chicken, sugar, and fertilizer (can we say heavier dependency on imports?). Labor reform (yeah, that's always a plus . . . ya commie), general raises in salary (What?! See above on inflation), improvements to fiscal structure (does he even understand what he just said?), raising fiscal collection from 8 to 10% (so, does he mean higher taxes, or a larger budget deficit? I can't tell from the wording in Spanish, I'm partially guessing on the translation).

Second question, "What has been your largest problem?" Correct answer: Corruption. Portillo's answer: Corruption. Okay, he appears to have gotten this one right. Of course, we aren't meant to infer that he is talking about himself. We're supposed to have forgotten the millions of dollars he got caught stashing in a bank in Panama two years ago.

Third question, "Are you annoyed by or distanced from the written press?" This one made me laugh. He is quick, hasty in fact, in saying that he has an excellent relationship with reporters (after all, he's kind of surrounded by them, the man isn't utterly brain-dead). Then he goes on to say he has a number of fundamental disagreements with the editors and other heads of departments, but again affirms that he is not in any kind of fight with them.

Fourth question, "What has been the most disillusioning thing?" "It has been watching people betray me as the months go by. The presidency is a lonely office, even though I am always surrounded by people." *Jared plays tiniest violin in the world.* My heart bleeds for the man, it really does. Maybe someday I shall have the chance to watch his heart bleed (the gushing kind).

I realize that that last bit especially might have been a bit disturbing, but gimme a break. It was a rant, after all. There's not much else in the interview worth noting, other than a brief but amusing question concerning his weight. He apparently peaked at 197 pounds a few months ago (keep in mind, the guy is probably about 5' 6") and has since lost 20 pounds. At that height, he could probably stand to drop a bit more, but that is neither here nor there.

Ahhh . . . Late again. Bedtime. Hasta maņana, y'all.

Posted by Jared at 12:34 AM | TrackBack

September 24, 2003

Screwed-up Women

"So, the guy jumps down off of his camel, picks it up, and throws it at the charging enemies!" -Jared, talking about the ridiculous fantasy book he just finished.

The Halfling's Gem, third in the Icewind Dale Trilogy by R. A. Salvatore, is a book that should only be read by those willing to suspend their disbelief. And I am very glad to finally have the trilogy behind me. Now I can get that huge book out of my backpack and quit lugging it around everywhere. Thing was about to give me back problems . . .

I can also forge ahead with my 40+ other reading projects (and these are just the ones I have planned at the moment). I'll start small . . . I now have four books going, but one of them is the book for Inklings.

I also finished The Taming of the Shrew today. I thought at first that this play was basically a chauvinists dream, but as it grew more and more disturbing, I changed my mind. For perfect example of what I mean, please refer to the following (rather long) quote from the play. It's kind of funny. This is the Shrew herself speaking her closing monologue, lecturing her fellow women after seeing the error of her ways:

"Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she's froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel,
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am asham'd that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband's foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready; may it do him ease."

Husband's reply: "Why, there's a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate. We'll to bed." (Act V, Sc. II)

Now, when you get the men doing this kind of thing in the plays, it's fairly comical, but when a woman (who was full of spirit and vivacity at the beginning of the play) is this cowed, it's just disturbing. My perceptions also might have something to do with witnessing the way she arrived in this state. Starved and deprived of sleep by her husband, jerked around by the nose (metaphorically speaking) . . . Wow. It was just an impressive display all around.

And now, the latest Rigoberta Menchu news . . .

Newsflash: Two Great Addle-Brains Put Heads Together

French President, Jacques "Chucklehead" Chirac, held a historic meeting with Rigoberta "The Face That Brought a Thousand Ships to a Screeching Halt" Menchu on Sunday. Chirac is said to have officially surrendered to the Guatemalan political activist, saying "I thought I'd never have to see her again after we met last year. I just couldn't take it anymore."

Jared "The Guatemalan" Wheeler called the French president yesterday to inform him that he and his organization were 100% behind this. "Just keep her," he said. "In fact, if you send her back, I'll invade."

Anyway, whatever . . . I could do that better, but I find myself in need of bed. Again. The link has a great picture of the two sitting together, but the article, I am sorry to say, is in Spanish. Reading over the Menchu archive on this site, (and there is at least one entry for every two weeks or so), I noticed one thing in particular. The woman is a menace. Half of the articles are about her announcing that she'll be suing someone new for war crimes or something. Someday, when I am president, she will have to be dealt with. And that is my anti-Menchu rant of the day. Hasta maņana, y'all.

Posted by Jared at 04:37 PM | TrackBack

The Saga Begins . . .

Alright, then . . . I am now the proud owner of a blog that's been started on a whim. Where can I take this? Where CAN'T I take this? (Answers: Anywhere and Nowhere . . . answers are interchangeable).

Scholl basically just made this thing for me . . . and I sat here and watched him do it. There's no saving me now.

So, we shall see how often I post. The really interesting stuff will, no doubt, be found mostly at the places I shall link to (when I figure out how . . . and don't expect that to happen all at once, I'm Fuzzy).

Wilson, of course, is very helpful as well. "Write stuff," he says. "Find something to post about." Yeah, I can tell he'll just be full of wonderful advice. But then, he always is, isn't he?

This, however, is neither here nor there. I must go to bed so that I will be in proper condition to waste time effectively tomorrow. Hasta maņana . . . y'all.

Posted by Jared at 02:19 AM | TrackBack