The insomnia hit a season late this year

I don’t like talking on the phone; I also have a deep-seated and completely irrational discomfort with cameras. So naturally I am the ideal demographic for something like Skype or Tokbox. Thank goodness for the saving grace of impromptu finger puppet shows! Finger puppets are pretty awesome. With the magical communication power of finger puppets, I ably demonstrated the general concepts behind the proposed maglev train between Vegas and L.A.

*****

This is the chocolate that has made my world this past year. After stumbling upon some really amazing filled (locally-made) chocolate up in Tahoe over my birthday/NYE weekend, I returned to Vegas with a burning desire to find a chain-supplied brand of chocolate that rivaled the Tahoe stuff in every respect. And thus I began methodically hunting through the chocolate sections at Sunflower Market and Whole Foods. And thus I discovered Bloomsberry & Co.

I’ve never considered myself a "chocolate person". I never got cravings for chocolate, especially after I turned 17 and, out of curiosity, decided to give up eating chocolate altogether (I think that lasted a year-and-a-half; I caved merely to appease my boyfriend at the time, who couldn’t handle me being meat-free AND chocolate-free). Even after I started eating it again, there was always sort of an "eh" approach to it. This was pre-Bloomsberry.

Now? Now I am post-Bloomsberry. Now I could eat a bar, a WHOLE BAR, every day and still have moments where I can’t stop wanting it. Now I am a chocolate person. Now I would happily go into debt for a box of Godiva, whereas before I rolled my eyes every time I saw that brand’s label. I may very well be forever ruined this way.

But the point was: Bloomsberry sells chocolate from the website! 24 bars of either milk or dark for $40! Do you have any idea how insanely cheap this is? Discovering this purchasing option was like Christmas *and* my birthday *and* unlimited llama rides for the rest of my life *and* a sheet of fuzzy stickers. Glorious.

With apologies to Mr. Grey; it’s just that your work has moved me so much

My morning in conversation:

[via Twitter]

NK: that’s basically like getting a text message from god. his writing and stories are amazing.
Me:

it’s like a text message from god and an internet greeting card from
jesus. and a facebook poke from the holy ghost.

*****

[text messages]

X: Drive safe.
O: Just parked. Drove safely, prevented a forest fire and took a bite out of crime. And said no to drugs. Will be there in a little while.

*****

[three of us in the back of class]

"Oh goody, now he’s going to explain it in *three* dimensions."
[looks into coffee cup] "…I wish I’d put more rum in this thing. One of these days, I’m just gonna show up drunk."
"Bottle o’ Bailey’s’ll do the trick…"
"Not stoppin’ till I can see through the bottom."
[beat]
"And then I’d hold the empty bottle up to my eye and peer through it. Like a monocole."
[stifled giggling]
[mock-drunkenly] "’What’s that sir? Oh, NOW I see what you’re talking about. Ahhh. YES. A-ha!’"

[a minute later]

"Look at the class. I love how no one is writing anything down."
"Look at their faces."
"I’m just waiting for someone to throw something at him."
"Or run out of the classroom screaming."
"Or… ooh. Or start crying."
"Someone just starts bawling. ‘I can’t take this anymore!’"
"’This is my third time in this class!’"
"Oh god, could you imagine? If this were your last chance?"
[we can’t stop visualizing someone actually breaking down into sobs, and the remainder of the class is spent repressing howls of laughter]

*****

And my ethics professor brought a filled trick-or-treat pumpkin bucket to class for us students to pass around. How adorable is that?

When you know what you want, don’t you dare give up without fighting for it first

But Jane would not have her. Alyce stood before the cottage, eyes stinging and heart sore. She had not thought about this, had thought no further than knocking on Jane’s door and being welcomed. But there it was. Jane would not have her. […]

"I know you do not wish to leave, cat. Nor do I. But there is no place for me here. I tried to come back but failed. She will not have me."

[…] Suddenly she leapt to her feet. […]

"Jane Sharp! It is I, Alyce, your apprentice. I have come back. I can do what you tell me and take what you give me, and I know how to try and risk and fail and try again and not give up. I will not go away."

The door opened.

-Karen Cushman, "The Midwife’s Apprentice"

English majors, rejoice! Though ’tis but a minute victory.

An interesting point came up in my ethics reading tonight regarding semantics (specifically, word choice and phrasing). One of the arguments over the 2003 Columbia disaster was that erroneous decisions on NASA’s part were made based on the inability of engineers to provide sufficient proof that the Columbia was unsafe (after witnessing the foam insulation break off during the launch), and that had the engineers instead been asked to prove that the Columbia was still safe, different choices in further execution might have been made.

You’d think that because the general conclusion– that there were suspected but not-yet-wholly provable safety threats– would be the same regardless of the question posed to the engineers, it wouldn’t matter how the question was worded. But think about it:

Scenario A:

NASA: Prove that conditions are now unsafe.
Engineers: Well, it’s highly possible that this or that might have been affected and could now be unsafe or even fatal.
NASA: But can you prove it?
Engineers: No. Not at this time.
NASA: Then it’s still safe.

as opposed to Scenario B:

NASA: Prove that conditions are still safe.
Engineers: Well, given that it’s highly possible that this or that might have been affected and could now be unsafe or even fatal, we can’t guarantee that the Columbia isn’t at risk.
NASA: So you can’t prove that it’s safe?
Engineers: No.
NASA: Then it’s unsafe.

It’s just another citation of proof: choose your words wisely. Always, always, always.

I can’t stand the word “blog”, either. I’ve accepted it, but I’ve never been able to warm to it.

I have a ramble in the making that references one of Noah Grey‘s posts, so I thought that in the meantime, I’d spend some time on why I like him so much.

  1. At least two pages, including the one for Noah’s Lark, feature an intricate leaf skeleton, where all the mesophyll has been carefully removed by insects, leaving only a delicate outline of veins. The first time I can remember seeing these– still on the tree, to boot– was when I went out east. I was fascinated enough to stop dead in my tracks upon spotting them, and once it took a great deal of urging to get me to start walking again ("Lora, it’s a leaf that some bugs ate, come on"). I just think they’re so beautiful. Maybe I’m giving the bugs too much credit– after all, they aren’t that large themselves– but it seems like they put so much time and skillful effort into keeping the leaf as intact as possible. So I like that he appears to be as taken by these leaves as I am.
  2. I am quite enamored with his About page:

    Primarily nocturnal and asocial. Mostly harmless, though may appear
    confused and helpless outside my natural habitat; if spotted in the
    wild, approach gently and bring Starbucks.

  3. His photographs are stunning and hauntingly lovely.
  4. His writing is phenomenal. His narrative style is unique in that I don’t know that I’ve come across any other writer who consistently writes in the second-person format. Third-person format is very distant and removed, like watching a play or a movie that you just happened to stumble upon; you don’t really feel involved whatsoever. First-person format has a more intimate feel to it, like the narrator is sitting right across from you and telling you, you personally, their story. But second-person format takes out the middle man altogether. Second-person format is when Whoopi Goldberg says fine, go ahead, and Patrick Swayze goes whoosh right inside of her; instead of hearing the story first-hand from the narrator, now you’re *experiencing* the narrator’s story first-hand. Like a text adventure, except without all the action input prompts inbetween.

And apparently he currently lives in San Antonio, TX. So, sorry San Antonio. If I’d known you were harboring such an exquisite manifestation of artistic talents, I probably wouldn’t have hated on you so much two weekends ago. (Still, though, to be fair: your airport was kind of sucky. Kind of.)

And I now have the complete Michael Buble discography. Heck yes!

I was pretty disappointed that I chose to not go to ALHC this weekend
after all. I’d been planning it, been looking forward to it, since the
beginning of June– but last-minute changes recently just made it too
difficult to arrange getting to and from Stamford and figuring out
rooming arrangements. The effort required to attend ALHC suddenly outweighed the benefits of going, and for the sake of sanity
(and homework and studying, which actually fall right back under that
"sanity" umbrella), it was really for the best that I stayed home.

Still. It’s been weeks since I was at a big dance
event– the last was VX, and even that was overshadowed by all the
drama that went down that weekend (which, The Wife likes to pointedly
remind me, I brought upon myself. Which is admittedly true. But it
would have happened eventually anyway, so, whatever). And it’s fall!
Connecticut in the fall would have been *gorgeous*. So while this was
the right choice, I’ve been a little mopey about it since making the
decision Tuesday night.

But then things started picking up here. The
Kelsey’s been in town since Wednesday and he’s staying with me, and
last night we went out to listen to live blues. My favorite uncle is in
town and I got to see him. I’ve been able to sleep in my own bed and
shower in my own bathroom and oh, that’s been glorious. I get to see my
favorite Aruba people tonight, and then later I’ll be hanging out at
the Palms with my favorite Vegas boys & co. My house is *clean*–
including my kitchen– and I’m about to start working on crusts for
pies and possibly a pumpkin bread pudding.

The thing, though– the thing that’s made my day?
My day, my week and possibly even my month? I found out this morning
that I’m going to Opportunity Green! This is a ridiculously huge thing
for me; I would have kicked puppies and sold dispensable organs in
order to go to this conference (okay, maybe not the kicking puppies
bit, that’s a little extreme), so the fact that I get to go? REALLY BIG
DEAL. The panelists and seminars and presentations sound fantastic; the
worst part is likely going to be having to choose between the afternoon
tracks. I mentioned it in an earlier post– sustainability is a *huge*
topic of passionate interest for me. I know I keep saying I want to
work with water, and I do– I still do– but that’s more a Las Vegas
goal. In terms of non-location-based career paths, I absolutely want to
do something involving sustainable design and working on reducing the
negative impacts of human society on the environment (ideally, while
simultaneously encouraging progress). I’ve been doing Happy Stoll
Dances! all damn day.

It’s a good Friday. It’s looking to be a great weekend. So really, I can’t regret not being at ALHC *too* much.

There were shooting stars, too. I wished twice.

I don’t know how to properly describe stargazing at Enchanted Rock (and this is Noah’s cue to
begin judgment; go ahead, Noah. Judge. JUDGE). But it was
something I wouldn’t have traded for– nearly the world. Certainly not
any of the other things I could have been doing this past weekend.

How to describe it? The air was mild and calm, neither humid nor dry.
There was a symphony of crickets and grasshoppers rising from below and
silence everywhere else. Because the moon hadn’t yet risen, the
world below us was just a black expanse, and combined with our altitude, the darkness made it feel like we were on a little rock of our own in the middle of the cosmos. Only the sky was vaguely
illuminated by the presence of all the stars.

And the stars. Oh, the stars. So far away from anything even close to a
city, so far from all the pollution, the stars came out in majestic
droves and dazzled. The Milky Way stretched out before us, a white mist
of a river winding through the constellations. And lying there on these
ancient and weathered thrusts of granite giants, lying there under this
vast window to the universe through which countless upon countless
distant stars and suns were winking at us– I felt so small
and insignificant and inconsequential and humbled.

In the history of
the universe, I– we all– will be recorded as merely a microscopic
speck, if even that. In the history of time, our lives will comprise
perhaps a fraction of a nanosecond; so what of the moments that compose
our lives? Everything suddenly felt all the more precious. Somehow, by meaning nothing on the scale of the universe, it all begins to mean everything on the scale of the human race.

I only had one burrito while I was there and it was pretty much an avocado burrito. And there were no llama rides.

So when you are a goatless, fiddleless gypsy and you are trying to get to a certain city in Texas which shall remain henceforth unnamed, you get there by 1) flying into an airport 75 miles away, 2) walking up and down and over and across said airport, which is currently under reconstruction or renovation or something of that nature, in order to find out how to catch the bus which will take you to another bus which will take you to another bus which will take you to your final destination, 3) catching said first bus only to find the second bus isn’t leaving for another half-hour, which happens to be precisely when the third bus will be departing, then 4) being picked up by an extremely chill and be-tattooed friend of a friend who just happened to be driving anyway from where you are to where you need to be and is welcome for the company. (He will ask you, after stopping to get gas, if you smoke, and you will say no, and he will ask if you mind if he does, and you will say no, and then he’ll get out his lighter and you will realize that there was a preposition missing in that question and your hair will smell all skunky for the rest of the evening.)

Upon arrival at your friend’s house, you will wait for him in the backyard where your legs (and other accessible body parts) will be enthusiastically… er… greeted by a hyperactive sweetheart of a 7-month-old dog. Your friend will finally arrive and interrupt the canine’s arduous affections, you will go inside and deposit your bags, and then you will be whisked off to downtown to hang out with people at a rooftop bar. After closing out the bar (I’m still amused by this concept of "last call") and getting your first taste of local taqueria wares, you will, upon trekking back to the car, be exposed to the fine art-slash-sport of bush-diving. Back at the house, regardless of it being something like 4 a.m., your friend will turn into a hybrid Katie Couric/Tom Brokaw/Dr. Phil and start asking you a random assortment of questions while you’re trying to fall asleep, and you, for incomprehensible reasons, will actually answer them, and he will end up being too drunk and too exhausted to actually remember anything you tell him, so, you know, that’s two hours well-spent.

Continue reading

Because you were wondering, too. You’re welcome.

"Oh, well, Lora used to work for Blackberry."
"Really? You did? Why’d you leave?"
"I just wanted something different. That old story."
"So what is Blackberry named after? Do you know?"
"Well, the thing about the blackberry is, it was an untapped product icon. Like, RIM wanted to go with a fruit that was cooler, you know? Because Canadians, they’re very progressive, and they didn’t want something old and used and lame, like oranges or pears or–"
"Or apples."
"Exactly. Blackberries are mysterious. What do you know about blackberries? Nothing! They’re probably kind of magical."
"Like that other berry? The acai berry or whatever?"
"Yes. And the blackberry was just the fruit to carry RIM into the future."

Four weeks was two weeks more than necessary to make me miss airports and planes

"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle will still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don’t improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable."

John Steinbeck, "Travels with Charley in Search of America" (1962)