Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Great Alabama Snowpocalypse of 2015

I hesitate to call this a Snowpocalypse, partly because it was nowhere near as "great" as last year's Snowpocalypse and partly because... well, you never know! We might end up getting more snow this year.

My adventure in the snow this year has a bit of a complicated story.

I think most of the state of Alabama was expecting at least a wintry mix, although the northern parts of the state were calling for the most snow. I'm a student at the University of Alabama, which is in Central Alabama, but I had to go home to Northern Alabama for a dentist appointment on the day of the Snowpocalypse.

Before I knew there was going to be snow, my plan was to take my morning class, drive two and a half hours home and attend my dentist appointment, eat some lunch, drive two and a half hours back to school and take my evening class. It didn't work out that way, and I'm kind of glad, because that would've been a lot of driving. (My mom called me a wimp for saying that, but I've also done the 14+ hour trip between Madison, Alabama and Richmond, Virginia in one day by myself, so I beg to differ).

The day before my dentist appointment, the entire state began to panic. The governor declared a state of emergency. After a few hours of mental begging and pleading, I got the magical email from the University saying that classes the next day would be cancelled. Freed from the obligation to attend my 8 A.M. class the next day, I hopped in the car and drove home, where I planned to spend the evening so that I wouldn't have to drive home through the snow the next day.

The general panic continued the next day. My 12 noon dentist appointment got bumped back to 9 A.M. The local schools had called a snow day. Everybody bunkered down with their eggs, milk, and bread. Ironically, the snow didn't actually start until roughly mid-afternoon.

But it was a decent snowfall! I think we got seven or eight inches. Meanwhile, back at school, my classmates were staring up at the sky, willing some kind of frozen precipitation to arrive. They eventually got a little snow, but it didn't stick around very long.

I watched the fat, fluffy flakes tumble from the sky from the comfort of my parents' kitchen. Once some accumulation had built up, I bundled up, ran to the garage, and grabbed my sled-- a souvenir of when we lived in places that receive snow regularly.

I was a bit out of practice and a bit out of shape, but the hill in my backyard was great for sledding once I smoothed and compacted the snow a bit! I had multiple sledding paths going by the end of the evening. I went all the way down to the creek bed at the bottom, and unfortunately, the water was not frozen. But I heaped snow on top of it to make it just solid enough to lengthen my sled path. It was seriously a lot of fun. I don't remember the last time I'd been sledding.

Photos courtesy of Mary Mast

Thursday, February 19, 2015

You Got The Thing You Weren't Looking For But Are Excited To See Anyway!

(Click for full view)

I have misplaced my Photoshop Elements disc. This wouldn't normally be a problem, since I installed it on my computer a year ago, but for some reason, it has stopped working and keeps giving me an error message saying I need to reinstall the program.

I was wracking my brain this evening, trying to figure out where I would've put the disc, when it occurred to me that I might have put it in a huge file box I keep on my bottom shelf. I opened up the box and...

I found the cute canvas tote that I thought was lost forever!

I didn't actually find the disc. But hope springs eternal, and now I have a handy way to carry my pool towels when the weather gets warmer. I was so excited to find it that I almost lifted it high over my head à la Legend of Zelda and sang my happiness to the world. Luckily, I remembered to be courteous of my poor roommates, who already have to put up with that sound as my text message ringtone. Thanks for being awesome, roommates!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

HAPPY MARDI GRAAAAAA-- oh, whoops, it's over


Except now it's officially the day after Mardi Gras here in Central Time, which means it's officially Lent. Awww.

Wow, Mardi Gras! Always fun. Last year I went with the marching band to do a parade in Mobile, Alabama. It was wet and very cold, but I still had a really good time. I even got a good poem out of the experience (which you can find in my digital portfolio under the title "Mardi").

This year, I had no obligations with the band, so I stayed home and celebrated with the French Club. It was a fun little party! I helped a little bit with the planning, and I'm glad it went well. The club was joined by the French Louisiana class, who had to attend the party for a grade. I have a friend in that class, so it was even more fun. I chatted with some people around the table and ate king cake and other snacks.

I also wore Mardi Gras beads all day, which attracted a few stares because wearing Mardi Gras beads around campus is apparently not a thing people do. But it's a thing I do.

I think Mardi Gras sneaked up on everyone this year. Did it come earlier than usual? I feel like it came earlier than usual.

One of my professors actually brought king cake to class. I found the baby! On top of that, I got some nice comments on my latest workshop piece. It was a good class.


Now to ponder what I'm going to give up for Lent... Can I give up essays?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I made this Valentine just for you! It's a little bit abstract and experimental, which is just silly codeword for "I was messing around and it turned out pretty cool."

Thank you so much for coming to see my blog! I know the updates have been a bit few and far between the past few months, but I really appreciate you taking some time out of your day to check it out, whether you're a regular from way back or a first-time viewer.

You're awesome! Enjoy your evening, whether you're spending it with your Valentine, your friends, your family, your other half, your boo, the other half of your OTP, your Juliet, your Mr. Darcy, your very special somepony, your BFF, your SO, the other people sitting in the bar, some people on the subway, Player 2, or even just yourself, because you deserve to love yourself and be loved by yourself!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Update: Alan Furst's "Dark Star"

In my last post, I reported that I read Alan Furst's Dark Star at a rate of 20 pages per hour or one page every three minutes while I was out on the quad. At that rate, it would take me five hours to read the assigned 100 pages.

I timed myself reading a few pages indoors (where there are fewer distractions) and found that I can read page in an average of one minute and 46 seconds. At that rate, it would take me (unless my math is quite wrong) 2.94 hours to read 100 pages... if I stayed completely focused for the entire time, didn't have a snack or take a bathroom break or talk to anyone, and read as though I were racing a timer. None of those things is likely.

3 hours is better than five hours, though. It's a shame the quad has so many distractions.

What I'm Reading: Alan Furst's "Dark Star"

This is the latest book I've been reading for my espionage seminar: Dark Star by Alan Furst. I like it a lot more than I liked the Kipling book we read.

The only problem is that it's a big, hefty book-- 437 pages. We're taking four class periods to read it, and we've been told to read 100 pages for each class period (class is on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

Whoof. Once you get behind on an assignment like that, there's no getting caught up, and I will admit that I am behind. I'm doing my best, but it's just a lot of reading piled on top of all the other reading I'm doing for my other classes.

I had a slight temper tantrum the other day about all the reading I have to do this semester. I'm honestly not taking that many hours, but the way my classes are arranged, I'm having a bit of trouble scheduling my reading times. I'm getting there-- definitely been making progress, especially in the past few days.

But yikes... a hundred pages per night... I was out reading on the quad earlier, and I marked my reading pace by the ringing of the chimes tower. I finished around 20 pages in an hour, which works out to three minutes per page (although I did occasionally pause and look up at the happy students playing Frisbee and adorable families going on bike rides). At that rate, it would take me five hours to read 100 pages. I think I picked up the pace a bit when I moved inside, but not by a whole lot. 

Aaaaaaaaghhh. It's hard to be productive when I read for hours at a time and it seems like I'm not making any progress. As an English major and creative writing minor, reading is basically all I do for homework (unless I have to write a paper... urk!), and my brain really starts feeling the fatigue sometimes, especially when I've got huge assignments like this on top of the work I have to do for other classes.

Eh. I'll quit whining and keep working on scheduling my time better. Work in progress, work in progress, gettin' better every day.

But yeah, I really am enjoying Dark Star. It took me a little while to get into it, and sometimes it's a bit complicated and hard to follow, but it might just be my favorite of the texts we've read so far. It's about a journalist who's been roped into working for the Soviet Union's intelligence agency just before World War II. There's action, romance, barely evading death, not quite managing to evade death, secrecy, intrigue, suspense... and 437 pages of it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Some More Fun Things To Read

I've started my long and thrilling journey of applying for internships and jobs! That means it's time to update the Online Portfolio, and that means you get a few new things to read. I hope you enjoy them!