It is practically a miracle. I had to finish my paper on the Santalales for my plant evolution class, and just barely got it done. The actual paper is definitely not my best; I should have done more background research on other groups, rather than limiting it to the Santalales. Hopefully it is coherent, though. At the very least, I got to learn how to use LaTeX, which I have been wanting to do for a while! It is really easy, actually, once you get the hang of it. And it's a lot easier to not get bugs, so that's good.

Otherwise ... I am so far behind on NaNo, but I am close enough that I can practically taste victory!!! I got my NaNo poster today, and am now vaguely inspired to go off and write my remaining 9,000 words.

I really should clean up my room, though. It looks like a hurricane swept through it, and I don't really have anywhere to walk.
So far, Thanksgiving has been a lot more fun than I thought it would be — my parents haven't been as annoying as I expected, especially my dad; not too many questions, and even better, fewer references to my brother's girlfriend than expected. We've played a lot of racing demons, and also cooked a fair amount. We made ... let's see: carrot soufflé, whipped cream (twice ... not that this is complicated, but), apple crisp, corn chowder, stuffing, cranberry stuff (I'm forgetting the word at the moment), bread. I'm probably forgetting a little, but oh well.

I watched the most recent episode of Merlin, mostly because the Tower sent me a link; my usual website didn't have it. :( But it was okay, though a little weird. The entire episode (Lamia) was pretty much all about crazy random happenstances until finally she attacked Merlin and Gwen. I'm seriously hoping that someone in Camelot aside from Gaius figures out that Merlin has magic before the end of this season, because honestly—he's not that subtle, and it's already been four seasons of "oh wait, what happened while I was knocked out?"

NaNo is going all right. I'm basically at 35,000, now, but that means I've got 15,000 words to write in the next five days; thank God Thanksgiving is early this year, so that I'm not expected to be done tomorrow. I'm hoping to hit 40,000 today, but that means a lot more writing, and I've already written 1,500 this morning. Hopefully I will manage to finish without too much semi-cheating! (By that I mean not actually cheating, per se, but doing stupid little things like not using contractions.)

I've been playing a fair amount of Dominion, and I think I got into the isotropic tournament. Yay!
The Roommate and I taught at Splash yesterday that went pretty well. We obviously didn't get the 700 students that the sword-making class got, but we didn't want that, either. We had several students say that our class was their favorite, which was nice, even if it was probably because it wasn't all "class"—we drank a lot of tea, too. But it was still nice.

The first session went all right—I didn't talk very much, and the Roommate talked too much, and we had a few rowdy students who were annoying. The second session, I attempted to talk more but apparently failed and the Roommate succeeded at talking less, which meant we had a little too much time for tea-drinking. The second crowd was really quiet, too, and much younger than the first crowd. Our third session went the best, though I got a little technical when I added in a bit about the evolutionary history of the tea plant; but the kids were just the right age, around 9th grade, for what we had planned. So all in all, a success, and I definitely want to teach at Spark in the spring if I can.

After we got back to camus, we had a game night with the Juggler, Fortitude, and the Tower. It was really fun, and I hope we get to do it again some time.

I slept absurdly well last night, which was great, and I woke up shortly before 9. \o/ Yay for sleeping in!

On a slightly less happy note, I am now so far behind on my NaNo that I am actually a little worried I won't finish. I want to write 4,000 words a day until Thanksgiving, and then I will feel a little better. I confess it isn't nearly as much fun to write this story as I thought it was going to be, so I want to find a way to change it. Maybe I will just ditch the first 20,000 thousand words and start over with the story line.
The Roommate, the Juggler, and I just got back from the 25th anniversary Les Misérables showing at the Providence theater. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. The music was amazing, and even though we were in the back we were in the center and could see pretty much everything. Les Mis might be really depressing, but the music is awesome. There were live gun shots, which made me jump about a mile, but it was awesome.

I hit 10,000 on my NaNo today, which was great, but now I am exhausted, it is late, and I just want to go to bed.
I'm not sure if I've ever had such a long weekend in college. Monday (yesterday, a.k.a. Halloween) didn't feel like class; it seems like the week just started today.

I went to the observatory Halloween party last night—it was fairly fun, with lots of ghosts and dead bodies and decapitated heads and things like that everywhere. Unfortunately, they didn't do liquid nitrogen ice cream this year, which they did two years ago and which was awesome; that was a bit of a disappointment. And also unfortunately, it was cloudy, so we didn't get to look at any stars or planets or things. So ... basically it was a haunted house for lots of children, which was kind of fun but not as much fun as two years ago.

The Roommate, the Juggler, and I also went to the midnight organ concert. It was AWESOME, except for the part about it being midnight. He played roughly eight different songs in the space of an hour, which was so much easier to sit through than the chorus or orchestra thirty-minute pieces; two of them I really, really liked. I forget what they were called, but I have the program so I will hopefully look them up later. He also played a Harry Potter song, which was cool, but it was more cool because he was playing it than because the song was actually nice. (Also, it wasn't awkward, which was an extra bonus!)

I talked to the Tower for a long time at dinner yesterday, which was fun. I almost convinced him to come to the observatory party and/or the midnight organ concert, but alas, I evidently failed. Also, I heard at the House meeting last night that ... er, we may or may not have done some pranking in one of his classes, so hopefully I will see him again before I forget to ask him what happened!

This morning I FINALLY got to sample one of my sediment cores, so I should be starting processing this week, and will hopefully finish processing for both cores before Thanksgiving. Yay! Except that I spilled one of the samples ... luckily, all we had to do was take another sample, but still. Care and precision are NOT my strong suits.

NaNo started today, and I successfully did NOT start last night after the organ concert. I am currently 348 words in, and I have a pretty good idea where I want to go for the next set of chapters; I'm sort of leaving the overall plot to the winds, but I know the broad outline. I just haven't picked all of the specifics yet, which is bad, because those specifics are the ones that are going to make it difficult. The broad outline is easy. But I really like where this year is going!

And on a completely unrelated note, my plants professor likes my research topic! And I do too! It's a win-win!
Tonight was the House's Halloween party, so the Roommate and I woke up really early (okay ... 8:15) to bake our magic squares and pumpkin muffins. It was fun, but took nearly two hours. I got a little work done after that, but not much.

We (i.e., me, the Roommate, the Tower, the Juggler, and Fortitude) had dinner and then watched Merlin. We went to the engineering building and watched it in their biggest lecture hall, which was really fun—it's almost like a movie theater, except we don't have to worry about talking too much. (Well, truth be told, I don't know whether the Tower minds; but no one else does, so.)

I had a brilliant idea this afternoon for my computer magic story, so I spent a while outlining the basic idea this afternoon. I definitely can't start writing it any time soon (especially not for NaNo!), because it relies heavily on MMOs, and I don't know anything about them. Well, I don't know enough about the community that plays them to write it. But, I have been trying to figure out this story for a long time, and I finally have it! It makes sense, it is internally consistent, and it has a fairly good backstory. The basic premise needs some work, obviously, but I am finally feeling like I am going to write it!

And now, I am exhausted and am going to go collapse into bed.
This week was absurdly long. I spent a lot of time in the lab learning more pollen processing, and got to look at sediment cores (!) on Wednesday. Wednesday night was the second Evolutionary Bio exam, so I spent a lot of time on Tuesday and Wednesday tutoring/TAing (or whatever it should be called). I spent at least three hours on Thursday evening working with one student who completely bombed the first exam, so hopefully she did better on the second one. She got to take it late because, on top of doing horribly the first time, she also had pneumonia for the past two weeks. Talk about a tough time!

On Thursday during Human Evolution section, we got to look at bones. BONES!!!!!!!! Okay, bones are really really cool. It's amazing how it's possible to look at a bone and figure things out about its history—not just in the evolutionary sense (is it a tetrapod? a synapsid?), but also in the forensic anthropology and taphonomic sense. I LOVE BONES. I tried to go to my professor's office hours on Thursday to ask about bones we didn't talk about in class, but he wasn't there; so, I'm going to go back on Monday.

I confess that my enthusiasm for bones makes me think that vertebrate paleontology might actually be something I'd want to study—after all, you pretty much get to spend a lot of time looking at bones. Unfortunately, you might have to spend a lot of time dissecting things too, which is not exactly something I want in my future. Alternatively, human evolution would be cool, but I do NOT want to go to grad school in an anthropology department, so I think human evolution is off the table. Finally, forensic anthropology would be SO COOL, but unfortunately I would have to 1) go to grad school in an anthropology department, and 2) probably have to dissect humans, which is even worse than other things.

Yesterday (Friday) I graded exams in the morning, then went for a meeting with Dimetrodon which she couldn't make because she was stuck in traffic, then went back to grade some more exams, then went to a TA meeting for Evolutionary Bio (whose exams I was grading), then went to class where we started to learn officially how to use Praat (which I already know how to use), then went to a meeting with someone who had worked at the Smithsonian as an intern five summers ago, then met with Dimetrodon about my thesis, then lost my keys and went traipsing around campus to find them before realizing I'd just left them in the lab, then saw a hawk outside of House and spent fifteen minutes staring at it, then went to dinner where I consumed copious amounts of ice cream, then went to the Juggler's a capella concert (she joined Disney a capella), then talked to the Tower for a little while about Merlin, then went to the Roommate's a capella concert, then went to bed.

It was a long day, as that extremely long run-on sentence demonstrates.

Anyway ... I finally this morning sent off an email to someone at the Smithsonian, so hopefully he will get back to me and I will have a job for next year! Of course, hopefully he will actually be able to pay me, but. The Roommate is going to talk to someone one Tuesday about what she would do at the Smithsonian. Hopefully everything will work out, and I will actually be able to call her my roommate without sort of kind of maybe lying.

And now, as a reward for finally finishing that email, I am going to work on my NaNo outline. I should do something important, but alas, I am not going to.
The Roommate's mother just sent me a big package; I was expecting my NaNo poster, but instead got something from her mom! It was exciting, but kind of made me just wish that my own mother would send me stuff. But, nonetheless, I am going to send the Roommate's mother a thank you card! While I am at it, I will try to write get a card for my own mother (and father, presumably), because that might help to cheer her up—she's getting a little depressed about the whole job hunt thing, and would really rather just be sitting around watching the news anyway.

On the other hand, I now get to wait for my NaNo poster! It turns out that they might take up to three weeks to ship out donor gifts, so I have another two waits to be expectant. I was kind of hoping it would get here before November, but now I have something to look forward too when a long, dark day of noveling has gotten me down! (Like that's ever going to happen ...)

I haven't had much time to work on my outline, but I have a decent idea of what the first five or six chapters are going to look like. I know where my characters are starting out and where they need to end up, I just need to figure out the details of the plot. A map is going to be important; but I haven't yet figured out how. I also need to decide how to connect my bad guys with my good guys. The proximate bad guys are the evil Empire sorcerer-hunters, but then there are some longer term bad guys whose plot is set in motion by something that Sai does in an early chapter; I need to figure out the details of the Seers' plot, and how to intersperse their stuff in with Sai's stuff. I need to decide how many POVs I want; I am thinking probably two, one being Sai's, one being a Seer's. I don't really like the idea of having only female POVs, but the Seer I currently know the most about is also female, so.

Yeah ... I am having a little trouble sorting through exactly how I want everything to work together. But I should have a much better idea by the end of the week!
My brother helped me book my trip to Japan today, and I confess I am 1) a little nervous about being away for so long, 2) very excited about going to Japan, 3) rather dreading the flights themselves, and 4) very excited about the flights themselves. Okay, technically I'm not excited about the flights, but rather the layovers—I'm going to be in Helsinki for 8 hours on the way there, and twenty-four hours on the way back. The hours and hours of flying is going to suck, but hopefully I'll get to find a few things to do while I'm in Finland.

Not that I will really *be* in Finland, but that's okay. I have to ask my cousin about any good things to do in Helsinki; he's not from that part of Finland, but he's presumably been there at least once or twice. Worst comes to worst, I can just go to the University of Helsinki's natural history museum!

I can't decide if NaNo is going to go really badly, or really well. I seriously need to at least start making an outline, or else I am not going to get anywhere in November. :P
Both Tuesday and Wednesday this week were so extraordinarily long, it was hard to believe they were only single days. Yesterday was a little painful, too, because I was completely out of it for most of the day. We had a cool demonstration on Icelandic in phonetics, though, which I kind of remember most of. I pretty much decided to take the day off, since I wasn't exactly paying attention to anything; so, I finished Merlin.

I like Merlin! It's a bit childish, and I have trouble understanding why the Hermit likes Morgana (though perhaps it's in part because she hasn't actually watched the show), but whatever. I am seriously hoping that Arthur is not remotely surprised when he finally discovers/realizes/is told that Merlin has magic, because if he is surprised I will probably lose all faith in the show. Admittedly, Arthur is knocked out for pretty much every time that Merlin saves his life with magic; or, it's in the middle of a battle and not entirely clear if 1) anyone used magic, or 2) who used magic. So I can see Arthur being a little surprised, but not shocked. He is not that much of an idiot.

In other news, I now have a plot-like object for NaNo, it just needs serious fleshing out before November. I have no idea if it is going to be ready in two weeks, but I am going to try to get a good outline-like object this weekend. Very basic, but still.

And now I have to seriously clean up my life. Inboxes are overflowing, there are an innumerable number of bags on my dorm room floor and I have no idea how they got there, and I have to figure out what I need to do this weekend. Ugh. :P

Edit: Also, two new cards for Dominion's new Hinterlands expansion pack came out today—Traders and Border Village. Traders seems like a dangerous card, in that you could fill your entire deck up with silver; and I'm not very impressed with Border Village, either—it costs a lot for very little benefit, when you could just buy the card you would gain from the village. But it probably works well with City, Peddler, Conspirator, Wharf ... but it still seems relatively useless with a lot of cards that you'd want to spam, like Lab and Caravan. I guess we'll see, and it might go well with some other Hinterlands cards, once those are released.
I am in desperate need of some motivation to work on projects, instead of playing Dominion all the time.  Current project list follows.

  • Shadowwood
  • Teddy Lupin
  • Dragon/elemental magic fusion, still majorly in the works, perhaps to be combined with the Shadowwood.
  • NaNo outline, unless I get far enough on the Shadowwood/dragony thing
  • Netmagic, 2.0v3 (backburner)
  • Quakewatch (backburner, maybe to become NaNo project IF I CAN MAKE HER NAME NOT VICTORIA)
  • Birthday and Christmas presents—mostly amigurumi
  • The Big Blanket—on hold until I return to North Carolina
  • The House cake
  • Horsetail cake?
  • Once and Future King
  • The Temeraire series
  • Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrel
  • Wind-up Girl
  • Lord of the Rings (because I haven't read it properly, yet)
  • 7 Wonders
  • Race for the Galaxy
  • Research "perception filters"
Oh yeah, and I need to actually apply for things to do after I graduate, because that's, like, COMING UP SOON.  I already have my presents to myself for finishing some of these—well, I have them picked out:  "The Angels have the Phone Box" T-shirt and xkcd's "Stand Back, I'm going to try science!" shirt.  Or perhaps the switch & button stickers from xkcd, because MORE MAGIC IS ALWAYS BETTER.

Edit:  ... And, I am now in charge of the TARDIS.  First:  YAY!!!!!!!  Second:  Yet another project.



July 2012

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