Old Daily Shows--August 2000

Find the archive of past entries at archive.htm. Today's entry is at daily.htm.

August 30, 2000

Well, this is it. Final Daily Show from home this summer.

I hate packing. I really do. It's such a pain.

Since I haven't finished yet :> I've decided to be a bit off-base tonight. Instead of thoughts, you're going to get transcriptions of my fortune cookies for the summer. Have fun, and hope I'll be writing again soon.

When you gather all your resources together, Goals are accomplished.

Fame, riches and romance are yours for the asking.

Ask advice, but use your own common sense.

Do not desire what you do not need.

Many people who have power become a deaf mute.

Many new friends will be attracted to your friendly and charming ways.

Constant grinding can turn an iron rod into a needle.

Keep true to the dreams of your youth.

He who has good health is young.

The first step to better times is to imagine them.

God has given you special blessings.

Nothing in the world is accomplished without passion.

You are talented in many ways.

Do not desire what you do not need. the second time!

You will be free of the heavy burdens you have been carrying.

Tomorrow will be an important day for you.

End of the fortune cookies. The last two sort of weird me out tomorrow. I mean, maybe I'll just get to put down the heavy stuff I'm lugging around, and I _am_ moving... Or maybe we'll get hit by something on the highway. Let's hope I didn't just tempt fate. Amen.

So, anyway. Take care, folks. Wish me luck, and I'll send some your way in return. Cheers!

August 29, 2000

What is that makes one a trauma junkie?

Am I a trauma junkie because I'm staying up too late talking with people about a friend I didn't know who committed suicide today? I don't know. I was talking to my mom a few days ago about how crisis training can sometimes make it hard to be _in_ a crisis situation because you keep seeing through every technique that's used on you, whether by you or someone else.

And now I must sleep. So it goes.

August 27, 2000

I'm writing this on Sunday morning, because I got home from Almonte and didn't feel like writing. Too tired. Oh well. Dealez-vous avec, as my French teacher used to say.

So, Almonte was yesterday. Man, that was a blast. Getting up at 4:30 didn't even ruin the day, though it did mean I was kind of tired at 1:00 last night. So, yes, I got up at 4:30, showered, had breakfast, and began putting on the uniform. White dress shirt, black tie, kilt in MacGregor tartan, kilt hose, flashes (put on inside out, as it turns out; one of my fellow band members, Kathy, noticed during massed bands, but it didn't really matter), black shoes, belt, sporran, glengarry. Having gotten in and out of cars several times while wearing a kilt, I have a newfound respect for people who can do that in long skirts.

Had fun at the border; Dad stopped to declare his camera, and I went in, for the enjoyment of watching the customs guys not say anything about my uniform. So that was cool.

Well, we got lost on the way to the games, because there were no signs posted anywhere in Almonte. So, we got there later than I would have preferred, but it was fine, as things started late there anyway. Turns out there were four competitors in Grade 5; all of us were "late" additions, and none of the scheduled competitors showed up. So, Claire Smith, a girl whom I don't know, played first, followed by Annie MacPherson, followed by me, followed by Amanda Bush. Annie played Mhari's Wedding, I played Cutting Bracken, Amanda played Jack's Welcome Home.

I was going to write a lot more about this, but then the day happened, we went to Massena to do last-minute school shopping, I went to movies at Shye's, and it's now late. So I'll summarize.

I got first, Claire got second, Amanda took third, and Annie took fourth. You can check it at www.ppbso.org or www.almontehighlandgames.inawire.com. Here's an HTML-ized version of my score sheet:

Games: Almonte Date: Saturday,
August 26,
Contest Solo Piping - Grade 5
Adjudicator: Hill, Colin Signature: Colin Hill Points Awarded
100 points)
Competitor: Hollis Easter
Tunes Cutting Bracken
Chanter tuning checkboxes, OK written in Drone tuning checkboxes, Yes checked next to Together and With Chanter
Execution: Good Expression: Very Good
11 (checked) -- B dbling - tight + missed 3x
-- E dbling - also tight
-- First birl + one other missed

Execution - Very good Lands but open up execution so you don't miss it.

Expression - Very good
- Nice lively tempo
- Enjoyable

Overall Very good, work on opening up execution + you've got the whole package!
Well done!
21 (check)

So, Shye bought me an earring. It's fun. I enjoyed freaking out my mother with it.

In other news, I bought a drone brush, which is good, and Brian invited me to work with the band next summer, which is better. He's going to mail me music at Swat. Yay! Also, I have a big honkin Scottish flag for my wall, and a print of an illuminated Irish blessing to go with it.

Heather's sad about UVA. Hopefully she'll be better soon. I bought granola bars today. Er, my parents bought them. But I'll have a few, nonetheless.

August 25, 2000

Ugh. Life's enough to make you want to smack people, sometimes.

The guys from the DOT came and fixed our driveway today, such that we can drive onto the road again without losing mufflers. This is good.

Major personal tension at home. This is bad.

Almonte tomorrow. This is good. Getting up at 4:30 am for Almonte tomorrow. This is bad.

Aargh. I'm frustrated. I want my friends. That's not why I'm frustrated; rather it's annoying because I would rely on them to help me sort all this out, and I can't when they're not here.

Hopefully tomorrow will go really well, and it'll be great. We'll see.

August 24, 2000

As I write this, I'm curled around a bowl of homemade French onion soup. Actually, I'm just pausing to eat the soup. Nothing particularly curled about it, but you'll agree it makes a nice image.

Aah, the joy of cultural diffusion. A British Isles mutt eats French onion soup from a bowl made in Taiwan with a spoon made in central New York. The French bread comes from the local grocery store, and is rather closer to the Italian-style bread they sell than to actual baguettes, but it's good nonetheless. The Swiss cheese is good stuff, made in upstate New York. The computer is assembled in the United States of parts made who-knows where. People in at least two countries will have read these words shortly after I post them.

Neat stuff, eh? Dad made the soup; really, really good. The gruyère is deliciously tangy, and lends a bit of bite to the onion flavor. Good bread, toasted, then soaked in onion broth. Life is good. We followed it up with the apple pie he made. It's really cool to have a Dad who's a great cook.

So, mom's off visiting Alden, apparently. Well, hope she's having fun, or whatever.

Shye's in Saranac Lake being a Kiwanis. (Kiwanis? I always think that a Kiwanis Club member should be a Kiwanit or a Kiwani or a Kiwanoid or something). Erin leaves tomorrow for college. Jen is, even now, hanging out with a boy on the other side of the planet. Elena's doing god only knows what. Heather and Kira are probably up talking or watching movies. Jennifer and Kyla are most likely asleep, as it's 6 am for them.

And I'm sitting here typing. I got up way, way too early this morning for the conference thingy. Someday someone's going to have to tell me that I don't work that well immediately upon waking from 4 hours sleep. Oh, wait, they do that already. Anyway, I was reading Robin McKinley's Outlaws of Sherwood last night, and didn't want to fall asleep.

Unfortunately, dawn came. I used to get up at that hour every day for high school. Damn, I'm impressed with myself. Ugh. Someday in fifty years I bet I'm going to look back on this, having become my father (who can wake up between 5:30 and 6:30 every morning without an alarm clock), and wonder how I did it. Enh.

Anyhoo, I digress. Went to the conference, at the campus of the State University of New York at Canton. Wicks Hall 102. I wanted some candles, but no dice. So, we got to learn about workplace violence. So I'm now certified as trained in workplace violence prevention and assessment, or some such thing. I think I may have to simulate the sound of one hand clapping. And I'll stick it on my resume, at the future date when said document comes into being.

It was funky. The seats in the lecture hall we were in took me right back to middle school. James and Jeanne Caverly, the presenters, were really neat. We like them. They are, as I like to say, a Good Thing (tm).

So, Almonte's in two days. Can we say, practicing lots? I took the stupid Teflon off my hemping jobs. Don't care what Brian says, it was making it impossible to turn the drones to tune them, and that's Bad. Also I must adjust my drone reeds, again, since they're now requiring too much pressure before they stop double toning. That means nothing to most of you. Basically it means more futzing with reeds, which is a pain, but nothing too serious.

So, I'm hoping that I'll be able to have a uniform for the first massed band, because I think it would be fun to play. In order to do so, however, I've got to learn a bunch of new tunes. Well, I want to learn them. Would be fun to be playing rather than simply droning. So anyway, for massed band tunes, I've got Mhari's Wedding, Scotland the Brave, Wings, Green Hills of Tyrol, Amazing Grace, and probably a couple of others. I can work Highland Laddie and Brown Haired Maiden back into shape pretty easily. The others... will need some work. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I'm also playing lots of exercises. Gotta get the D finger working better. Aargh.

Well, I want to go read some more Robin McKinley, so I'm going to put y'all down. What an ugly (article of clothing) you're wearing today! Now that I've put you down, I will stop writing, and leave you with the cloying aftertaste of my humor. Ta ta.

August 23, 2000

As far as Macintosh computers are concerned, today's a bust. They were crashing harder and more frequently than unmaintained 747s. Ugh.

On the other hand, I got to chat with Jennifer and Kyla for a bit. Really, really good to hear from them. They're doing pretty well, which was some sort of balm to hear, oddly enough.

Rehemped two more joints on my pipes. Gad, that's a slow process, eh? Hope I won't have to redo it any time soon. Oh well. Failed to do any reading during my shift, but did watch Survivor.

Ah, Survivor. My first initiation into the rite of summer that has crazed so many friends. I wasn't impressed, actually. I was amazed at some of the things the contestants were forced to do, but not really thrilled to the degree some people seem to be. On the other hand, I did watch for the whole two hours, so maybe I'm just spouting wind.

Off tomorrow morning to a conference on workplace violence. Please, let it not be boring.

August 22, 2000

Fade in on Hollis, seated in the familiar chair, in the familiar living room. Books cover the desk before him; CD cases cascade above them like waterfalls frozen in January.

Not really very much like waterfalls frozen in January at all, actually, which just goes to show you how far figurative fantasy writing gets me. I'm sitting here trying to remember the lyrics to a Gordon Lightfoot song I was listening to in the car en route to and from Canada. I can sing along with it, but I evidently can't remember it without some sort of goad.

On the way to Spencerville, I indulged a whim. I pulled the white Toyota off the highway that leads to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority bridge to Canada, and headed toward the Saint Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

In its time, the Psych Center was a bustling hub of activity. It occupies a large lot adjacent to the Saint Lawrence River, and walkways meander back and forth under the shade of old trees. In the old days, the many buildings were filled with the insane, the mentally ill, the socially deviant, a few criminals, and a bunch of other people our society didn't want to deal with. The style of the buildings and the magnificently kept grounds all lent an air of control to the center; here was a place where problems would be fixed, or at least controlled and minimized.

Now, however, that's largely revealed as the boyhood fantasy of a child brought up in contact with the provider side of human services. The Psych Center is still active, certainly, but it's a mere shadow of its former self, having been downsized by politicians who cleverly legislated out of existence the sorts of mental illness that would demand an institution of such size. So, everyone tries to make do with what's available. Frankly, it's sort of amazing there aren't more serious problems with the mentally ill in society, given how little there is to be done for them. Amid all that, the building have aged into faded glory. Driving along the perimeter of the center, one notices the clean, sweeping lines of the structures; pulling in a bit closer, you begin to notice the peeling paint, the repairs badly needed but unafforded, and the windows that have been boarded over or left broken.

Anyway, that's the setting. I can't say why, but I've wanted to play there for quite a while. So, I pulled up along the trail at a little gazebo that overlooks the Saint Lawrence, and I played my pipes. I played all sorts of things, and got eaten by these tiny little mosquitoes that really hurt when they bite you. Weird. I'm glad I did it, though. As usual, a few people noticed me playing, and a few of those stopped to listen.

I drove on toward Spencerville, where I had my lessons. Suffered through the noxious smoke inside the Legion to talk to the lady who works there, and went outside to practice. Thankfully, we worked outside the whole time. More competition prep, and it's scaring me that the competition is this Saturday. I'm not ready. My mechanics are in pretty good form, but my grace notes are slipping. Gotta open up the double B's and fix the birls. Thankfully my phrasing hasn't suffered too much. Done there, I drive home, thinking of endings. Last practice at the Spencerville Legion for me this year. Am I ready to go back to Swarthmore?

As usual, everything piles up at the last minute. A lot of this is my own fault. Sigh. Oh well, I guess. So, I'm driving home, listening to Gordon Duncan and Gordon Lightfoot--heh, I only just realized that I had a Gordon theme there--and wondering what the heck I'm doing. People have been telling me they think I'm going to come to the point where I need to decide what I'm doing, and pick something. I'm sort of scared that it's going to come down to a choice between music and computer science, and I _really_ don't want to make that call.

Disappointment hits hard, and harder still when you're disappointed with yourself. It's unrealistic to believe that once you make a resolution, you'll be able to hold to it without wavering; still, when I waver, it bothers me. I suppose that doesn't make a great deal of sense, but that's okay, too.

Now I'm listening to November Project and remembering... a smoky lounge on South Street in Philadelphia, a good crew of friends, and an evening concert. Pre-concert risotto, prepared par excellence by Catherine in her Roberts kitchen... trying to find someone else to go with us when someone pulled out... trying to find a way to park the minivan of doom. I loaned Catherine my scarf, and she looked positively Parisian. Really, really good concert, too. Makes me sad that October Project had to die. So that's all happy, but this too is a bittersweet memory because we had to leave for the concert shortly after I got back to Swat, and I felt like we left my parents very abruptly. Sigh.

I guess now that Heather and Kira have come and gone, it's hitting hard that the new year has begun. A new generation of freshmen will move into Swarthmore this weekend; the old guard have headed off to work and grad school. Sophos moron believes himself to be paradoxically both more and less intelligent than he is; each is a fault, to a degree. And I keep coming back to Jack Nicholson's line... "What if this is as good as it gets?"

It's not. Good times are a-comin. Peace is every step, or some such thing.

August 21, 2000

Well, SCCS has fixed kestrel, so I'm writing again, at long last.

Heather and Kira have come and gone. We ate Mexican food, we made crepes, we watched movies, we talked, we stayed up far too late, and I think we all had a good time.

It's weird having houseguests when you're unused to it, though. Just a different way of relating to familiar surroundings. I guess I have a deeper understanding of the world, or something. Or not, maybe. Who knows?

We watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and made fun of it, which was good. We watched Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and were saddened by how much of it is stolen from Robin McKinley. We watched As Good As It Gets, because it was on TBS and we were too braindead to change the channel. It was good.

Uhh... Shite. I'm not ready to go back to school in a week and two days. So totally not ready for that. Friends are already trickling back into Swarthmore. I'm looking at SEPTA rail schedules, and thinking what activities I'll have to drop so I can do lessons with Susie. Guilt sets in for not having done shin splint exercises more often, for not practicing pas de basque more often. Hopefully the torpor I've fallen into lately will lift soon. Why didn't I study my textbooks more over the summer? Why haven't I been practicing my chord progressions? There are perfectly good reasons, mostly, but the slightly scary real answer is that they weren't important enough to me to be worth my time during the summer. I think that bothers me unduly because it's 1 in the morning and my friends left today. Heh.

I went to calling hours this evening for the mother-in-law of one of my coworkers. So it goes.

I read Herbert O'Driscoll's A Doorway In Time, which is a lovely book about growing up in Ireland and becoming a priest. I like him a lot--he's honest about his own faith while he admits that it may not be right for everyone. He tells stories from his past, and it's just a good thing. More than that, and I'll be sounding like a book report, so we'll quit there. Also read Harry Potter Two. Excellent as well.

Penultimate piping lesson tomorrow. Time has sped up again. Rushing a bit too fast for me, now. Sigh. Until tomorrow, I remain happier than my writing sounds :). Cheers.

August 14, 2000
Hollis: mrrow
katzchen12: yow!
Hollis: prrowt
Hollis: prut.
katzchen12: mrrrrp. prrrr prrrr prrrrrrrr...
Hollis: mart.
Hollis: prrrrrrrrrr
Hollis: (trans. There are deer in my yard)
katzchen12: myat! (What are they doing there?)
Hollis: :flip over and stretch: rrreownnn hissss (They were eating apples, but then a big scary truck went by and they ran away.)
katzchen12: rrer. myeh. (Sad. No deerses... once I was waiting at the bus stop and a deer ran out from someone's yard, down the sidewalk, and back into someone else's yard. Peculiar.)

Ah, how I love my Swatties. It's so good to get to talk (!) to them. Sometimes we don't make an awful lot of sense, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Got email from Susie Petrov today. Happiness ensued. More on that later, maybe.

So, I worked at home today, and I actually got some work done. Yay, typing in hundreds of constants for GUI design. Thankfully, I have most of the GUI layout done now, so what remains is tweakage followed by the unglad task of glueing all those components to the underlying software. Just think, I could be painting cars instead. :P

It's been an unhappy day in the department of reeds. I decided to go practice in the front yard for a while at 5:30, since I'd been doing computer work for five hours previously. So, I go to take my reed out of its protector, and I find that it has a lovely fur coat of something that looks like Mycelium. Um. Yeah. So, I stuck it under running water and scraped at it gently with a fingernail. Yich. Grossness. So, this is all over, and my reed is now too easy to play, thanks to the excess water. So, it's into the pipe case for another reed. Problem is, none of these will work with my chanter--they're all flat on the top hand, no matter what you do to them. Gar. Finally I ripped most of the hemp off one of them and got it into some semblance of tune. Ugh. Turns out that this one hasn't been blown in, and is a "strong" reed, to boot. That equates roughly to me standing in the front yard squawking and getting dizzy while attempting to tune a reed that I can barely blow. Ugh. So, finally I get it working, sort of, and my drone reeds are cutting out, because they're set for a lower-pressure reed. Lower pressure, ha. My other reed's not that easy... Well, anyway, the deerflies (no deer, but we've got deerflies, mutter) were eating me, so I decided to scrap it and come inside. I'll break out the practice pipes, and play on them for a little while, I think blithely. AARGH. They, too, are having reed problems. Both drone reeds cut out within seconds, and will not restart until you take them out of the bag, dry them off, and re-inflate everything. Then you've got a couple of seconds to tune, and they're off again. Sigh. This is becoming a whistle day.

I keep threatening to watch Braveheart again, so maybe I'll put it on while I'm writing. On that note, it would be well to describe the fun over at Shye's last night. I went over there, and we watched movies, tormented George, ate pizza, and generally had a pretty excellent time. Oh, also, I gave her a summary of yesterday's Daily Show. Anyway, we watched movies. They were:

  • Roxanne, starring Steve Martin
  • All Of Me, also starring Steve Martin
  • Exit To Eden, not starring Steve Martin, but starring many scantily clad people, and Rosie O'Donnell

Fun movies all. Best line of the evening comes from Rosie, in her response to a Submissive's question as to how he may satisfy her utmost desires: "Go paint my house."

Weird night last night. I had the nightmare again, which was weird, because I haven't had it in years and years. Generally, if I have a nightmare, it's going to be about Jurassic Park. Weird, I know, but hey, it's the subconscious; it don't answer to me, it don't answer to you. So, it was the Jurassic Park nightmare again. Freakage.

Somehow, I made the conscious decision to stay asleep through it (yes, I know there's something wrong with it, but what can I say?) and see how it ended. All sorts of random things. Small dilophosaurs, compys, and biggish velociraptors chasing me all the hell over the place. Me = not happy. There were other people there, and we were all "in it together" or something. There was something or other going on at a beach where we had to do something, and we did it, and that was that. Then the dinosaurs started attacking, and we had to get the heck out of there. Then there was something else with fire or lava or something, and it was relevant somehow.

So, you're stuck on an island with a lot of rather hungry carnivores. What do you do? This is the kind of thing they should be doing for shows like Survivor. Piss off your teammates, talk a walk outside the fence line, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not get to be seasoned with Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Yum, raw human. Sorry, that was kind of tangential.

I'm now suffering from the bad memory that consciousness leaves me with. Somehow, in this dream, I was someone important in the military. This confuses me. There's all this sand around in the dream, and it's sort of just there. It makes it interesting to drive in the Jeeps we have. For some reason, we can drive across some lake in our Jeeps. Does that mean that our Jeeps are Jesus? I'm sure this made sense this morning, but damn, I sound like I'm on crack.

I don't remember whether I got eaten by the dinosaurs or not. Probably not; I don't think you ever really die in your dreams. Or maybe when you die in your dreams, you die in reality. The Wachowski brothers might have something to say about that; so might William Gibson and Sigmund Freud. Me, I just work here. I think there was something in the dream about putting my affairs in order, which is probably about moving back to college. Other than that, I'm mostly at a loss.

August 13, 2000
I'm writing this on the afternoon of Sunday, 13 August, but it's mostly stuff from the 12th and earlier. I was just too tired to write last night.

So, I went to Chateaugay for a concert (Celtic Connection) on Friday night, and then went to Lyon Mountain to stay with my grandfather. It was awesome. He's the president (or some other variety of bigwig) of the Chateaugay Lakes Arts Association, which brings musical groups to that area. Two years ago, I heard Chris Layer play with Keith Murphy and Becky Tracy, and it was really, really good.

This year, they were scheduled to play again. I was excited. When the concert began, I was sad, because the introductory speech mentioned that Becky's mother had just died, and consequently neither she nor Keith, her husband, would be able to play. So I'm sitting there looking at the other two musicians, trying to figure out who they are. Well, happily, introductions come pretty soon. The fiddler is Pete Sutherland, a native Vermonter, who plays with the dance band The Clayfoot Strutters. He also plays guitar, banjo, and a few other things. So who's this woman, I'm wondering? Susie Petrov. The person speaking said that and I sort of went nuts. I was bouncing in my seat rather uncontrollably. If you don't follow the folk music scene, you won't understand why; suffice it to say that she's _really_ good. Pete, too. Not bad for last-minute substitution musicians; thanks Chris!

They got their set going, and it was beautiful. I tried to scribble down their song list as they said them, and got some of it. Here it is:

  • Battle of Waterloo, Rory MacLeod, New Claret, Newlywed Reel
  • John Brown's March, Johnnie Cope (not the one you know), Dickie's Discovery
  • Midnight On The Water
  • Skewball The Talking Horse
  • The Beauty Of The North, Miss Gordon of Gight, Johnnie Groat's House
  • Bause (sp?), The Cliffs of Moher, Tara Road
  • 1800 And Froze To Death
  • Some song whose title I missed, Old Copperplate, The High Reel
  • intermission
  • A Fig For A Kiss, Three Rolls, Smash The Windows
  • Plains of Boyle, Woodchopper's Reel
  • Sunday River
  • The Grey Funnel Line
  • Miss Monahan's, (something) Gate, Foxhunter's Reel
  • Delvinside, Braes of Tullimet, When Charlie Comes
  • Work In The World
  • Lonesome John
  • Saint Anne's Reel, Reel de St. Jean, Reel de St. Antoine

I was so very happy during this concert. They played some of my all-time favorites--Delvinside and the Braes of Tullimet; the Foxhunter's Reel, and The Grey Funnel Line. Wonderful music, and it was just fun to watch them interacting on the stage. I was very sad when they played a waltz (Sunday River, I think) and the entire audience sat and listened. Waltzes should be danced! I almost stood up with a half-finger in the air, to find a partner. Oh well.

There were some Canadians in the row in front of me, who also play bagpipes. It was kind of funny--they kept on trying to recruit me for their pipe band, sound unheard. Heehee. They seemed nice enough, though; they even drew me a map for how to get to their practices. Heh.

I bought two CDs during intermission; both of them were Pete Sutherland's work. Chris didn't bring any CDs, and Susie brought Peace and Plenty, which I already have (thanks Ninnyfur), so I got the Sutherlands. One is a solo album of original music, entitled A Clayfoot's Tale; it's pretty okay. The other is by the Merrie Greenwood Band, and is called The Adventures of Robin Hood: Performing Songs From The Circus Smirkus Production of Robin Hood. Ooh, it's yummy, too. They do a bunch of English dances that I've played, a few more that I want to learn, a bunch of trad stuff, something that sounds for all the world like klezmer, and two interpretations of the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance. Yummy music.

So, my grandfather runs this concert. That means that the musicians stay at his house. Oh, my goodness, it was cool. Susie and I were talking almost as soon as she got back from the concert. It turns out that we know a lot of the same people in the Philly dancing community. Good news! She's moving to Lansdowne, and will be teaching at the Haverford Friends School, where I've gone dancing. Neato stuff. We spent quite a while speaking to each other in French--she's much more fluent than I am at the moment. Still, it was fun. Talked about where we'd been in France. We talked a lot about dancing, about music, about the Philly area. She's working at Pinewoods this summer, and we talked about that. Pinewoods is a dance camp on Cape Cod. I wanted to go, but thought it too expensive. Anyway, she spent a lot of time convincing me to go next summer, either as a camper or as a staff member, which would mean I could get paid to be there, and still get to do _some_ dancing. Awesome stuff. Eventually, other people started going to bed, until it was just me, Susie, Chris, and Peggy (my step-grandmother). We talked about all sorts of random things, from music to being an only child (or not), etc. I learned a bunch of things about Susie's family, and the way that both she and Chris got started in music. We talked a bit about what I'm doing in school, and whether or not I'm going to keep piping during the school year. I explained the problems with the rehearsal schedules; Susie and Chris offered to contact friends in the area to see if they can hook me up with someone who'll teach me. O blessed fortune, what did I do to earn the time with these people?

Well, it was three in the morning, so we all decided to go to bed. Chris and Susie headed up the hill to their apartments, and Peggy and I chatted for a bit. I went to bed; she stayed up and did a few dishes, then came up as well.

Eight in the morning, I awoke. Stayed in bed until nine-ish, then got up, made my bed, brushed my teeth, generally abluted myself, and headed downstairs. People were thinking of making breakfast (in addition to me and my parents, and grandpa and Peggy, the house also contained my great-aunt Ellie and two friends of my grandfather, Al and Alice McNab), so I got in on that. They wanted scrambled eggs, and as the resident short-order work study chef, I got drafted as the cook. Okay... Eggs, garlic salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, a few other things. They were good.

Susie came down from her cabin and grabbed a cup of coffee. Various people offered breakfast; no thanks. She found me, said I should get one of my whistles and come out to look at the lake with her. Um. Okay.

So, we went out on the porch, and she said I should play something. Um, okay. What does a mediocre whistle player select as his opening for Susie Petrov? Well, mind is racing. Gotta pick a tune I know pretty well, so what do I choose? The Kesh Jig, which I don't actually know that well. Heh. Anyway, I played it. She had me play it again. She had me keep a beat with my feet. She had me try keeping the beat with my heels instead of with my toes. She made me play my long rolls over and over again, making them even.

Then she taught me a version of the Scottish tune Highland Laddie, which I knew from piping, though in a substantially different version. Nice tune--I never liked it before, but it took on a new light that morning. It was neat--she taught it orally first, and then had me translate that onto my whistles. It's funny; until she said so, I had never concretely realized that what you do with music is get it into your head, and then all that's left to do is translation onto a specific instrument. Really cool.

So, I had an hour and a half or so of private lessons with Susie. Damn. She said she wants me to get into contact once I get down to Swat, too. My goodness, that could be really cool. We'll have to see how it goes.

During the middle of this, Chris had gotten up and gone swimming. They needed to leave fairly quickly, but he wanted to show me some things about tuning highland pipes. So we had a few minutes of tuning theory and demonstration, followed by a couple of farewell tunes on the pipes. Hugs all around, and they drove off--Susie back to Boston, Chris dropped off on the way for a gig. Man, what a treat.

Assorted other things happened, and we went home. Saw As Good As It Gets again last night; definitely a fun movie. Heather and Kira will be here in less than a week.

Talked to John Kaplan on Friday. His kilt fits me (sort of), so I'm going to borrow it, his belt, and his Glengarry (hat) for the competition at Almonte, and then give them back to him for the band competition. It would be nice to have a kilt to wear for the whole day, but at least I won't be naked.

August 9, 2000

"When you feel all alone, and the world has turned its back on you,
Give me a moment, please, to tame your wild, wild heart.
I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you;
It's hard to find relief, and people can be so cold.
When darkness is upon your door, and you feel like you can't take anymore,
Let me be the one you call,
If you jump, I'll break your fall,
Lift you up, and fly away with you into the night.
If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart.
If you need to crash, then crash and burn; you're not alone."

-- Savage Garden, "Crash and Burn"

Yep, that's my addiction. Love that song. It, along with Marc Anthony's "You Sang To Me", has defined my summer in terms of radio songs. You know the kind--the ones you hear on the radio and instantly recognize, the ones you hear three times a day for a while, the ones it seems are always on when you hop into the car. Love that song.

I read Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone this evening during my hotline shift, which was really quiet. Excellent book. I like what Rowling does with the hero track; also that she's set her stories in the current day and makes certain to account for our lack of notice. That, more than anything else, is what accounts for the popularity of her books, I think. What do I know? Not much. Anyway, I liked it.

August 8, 2000

"And the lights are all on, the world is watching now
people looking for truth, we must not fail them now
be sure, before we close our eyes
don't walk away from here
'til you hear both sides"
-- Phil Collins, "Both Sides Of The Story"

All right, all right. I've deprived you of my wit for several days now. Well, my thoughts have been accumulating, and there's now quite a lovely tepid pool of them. Who wants a bath?

I went to Glengarry with parents and Shye on Saturday. It was pretty good--not so good as the games in my memory, but I think that may be a trick of the aging process. I saw quite a few people, including Al and Josh Kelly. Yay. Al's loving his new job, which is really good. Josh isn't sure about piping; the band he's hoping to join has told him to memorize 32 songs before he can think about playing with them. Yowza.

It was quite warm, and very sunny, on that field in Maxville. Oddly enough, I escaped the sun unscathed--odd in that the sunscreen seems to have worked. Poor Shye burned her nose half off. Heh. Anyway, we watched lots of piping, much of it pretty good. It seems that Spencerville pulled down tenth place in a field of sixteen at Glengarry; pretty good, apparently. Karen seemed happy with it when I saw her this evening at practice.

I bought some tune books, or rather, a tunebook and a book with tunes in it. The tune book is the Scots Guards standard pipe settings, volume I. The book with tunes is the College Of Piping Tutor Volume III, which rounds out my set. It's got exercises and tunes and stuff. Fun! Also got a chanter reed protector and a drone pull-through swab for drying out the bores of the drones.

Today was, among other things, Kyla's birthday. One hopes she spent it happy in Sweden. If you're reading this, many hugs for you.

I finished reading Beauty. I totally understand why Heather likes it. Also Kyla. Also Kira. Also various other people. McKinley is very good, and the Beauty/Beast story is one of my very favorites. I suppose that's because I still sort of think of myself as the Beast, but hope to change into a prince one day in the future. Anyway, Robin writes her descriptions well; they made me want to draw pictures of the castles and such. I'm definitely going to have to read more McKinley--she has a deft touch and wry wit that I find quite enjoyable.

Twenty-three days until I go back to Swat. How to fill them? There's the question, eh? Frustration with how little I've gotten done this summer will certainly hold a spot.

I wore my Swat Math T-shirt today. I was asked to explain the joke--"I think, therefore i is"--at piping this evening, and found myself at a loss. It's one of those things that's either amusing (if you're a math dork to some degree) or really, really not (if you're everyone normal). The people at piping were, largely, not math dorks. Consequently they didn't find it all that funny. We talked about how Annie and Amanda will take precalculus in five years, find out about i, and laugh at my joke. Heh. Oh well, weirdness is good.

I just got bored, so I went and hid a secret message in the paragraphs above. If you're terribly clever you'll find it. I promise.

Odd how one person can make a trip pretty good or pretty unpleasant. This happens fairly often with Border Patrol officers. There are the jerks, like the guy who works at Massena. Then there are the officers like the one I got this evening coming back into the states. Middle-aged guy, accented speech. Gave me the standard questions--yes, I'm an American citizen who lives in Potsdam and was in Spencerville for the evening at pipe band practice. He then asked me if there was anyone else coming back with me. I was confused, and looked around my car to see if he'd found a hitchhiker or something. Nope. He wanted to know if the other pipers from Potsdam were up there. He really likes bagpipes, so we sat there, me in the car, him in the booth, and talked about pipes for about five minutes. Nobody coming over the bridge, so it was fine. Anyway, it just made me really happy to share that with him. Thanks, man. You made my day.

I think I'm done for now. Time to play some Total Annihilation and get rid of some excess tension.

August 4, 2000

This evening was Crocodile Dundee night at the Easter household. We watched both of them. Lovely, lovely movies. Paul Hogan is just several different kinds of the man, and I loved the subtle jabs in the film at society. Wonderful.

People on chat are being really stupid, again. I'm probably opening myself up to flame for saying it, but damn, people, you need to read what you're writing. Then you need to consider the effect it will have on people. Also, coming slightly further off that high horse might be beneficial. This probably applies to me, too. Oh well. Jungian shadow or whatever, there are some people on the list who really annoy the heck out of me lately.

Tomorrow it's off to the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario, wherein I hope to:

  • Acquire a kilt from the band, along with various other things
  • Buy a pair of hose, if the band doesn't have any
  • Buy a chanter reed protector, some drone swaps, and some yellow hemp
  • Possibly buy some tune books so I'll have something to learn while at school.
  • Sign up for piping competition at Almonte
  • Watch the grade 5 competition to see what I'm up against
  • Watch the band competition and be a loyal supporter
  • Not see the streaker from last year (it was not a good thing)
  • Hear some good music

I finished The Wind From Hastings today. A fine book, and one that I might recommend to others. I'm now stuck in that debate over what to read next... Perhaps Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? Or maybe Beauty, by Robin McKinley? Lewis's Horse And His Boy? So many choices! Maybe I'll figure it out eventually.

I regret that I still don't seem to read quite as critically as many of my friends. They notice things and think of things in reading that don't occur to me, and I wish I could emulate them. Oh well. Time will tell, I suppose.

I practiced my pipes, outside, as is my habit. I have a stone wall at the edge of our property that faces west across a road, and I like to face into the sunset and play. Today was particularly fun--I was playing something or other, and a flotilla (cavalcade? motorcade? flock? herd?) of motorcycles came roaring up the hill. All the bikes were driven by a guy with a girl sitting on the back. The girls all noticed me and waved and stuff. It was fun. And then there was the woman who walks back and forth on the hill; she walked by me as well. I played Amazing Grace, because two of my neighbors have put in standing requests for it. Fun stuff, though one of my drone reeds is still being dumb.

I must go to bed. First, I must work out. Thus, I shall bid you adieu, except that I won't, as I hope to see some of you again. A bientot, then.

August 3, 2000

Dead Again was playing at Shye's house this evening, so Elena and I descended on her home to torment her cat and watch the film. Yum. Cheesy thing with the scissors, but still good overall, and Derek Jacobi is just wonderful in general.

I'm talking to Louisa, a new Swattie who's transfering in from Manhattan School of Music. Neat! Welcome to the fray, Louisa.

Got a letter in the mail from Heather yesterday! Yay. Fun stuff.

I'm reading Morgan Llywelyn's Wind From Hastings, and it's quite enjoyable. Aldith is a good heroine.

I'm quite inane at the moment. Don't mind me.

Worked out too hard yesterday, and consequently curling my 30 lb. weights is sort of painful. Oh well.

Kyla flew out for Sweden this afternoon; we talked on the phone yesterday. It was really good to hear from her. A month of complete separation ensues. Give me strength, I guess.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to cope better with the lack of Swatties. Finally, one might say. I miss 'em, but I'm surviving.

I get to wear a kilt! bounce bounce bounce.

Time to lift some more weights and go to bed. Peace.

August 1, 2000

"I have heard that hysterical women say
They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow,
Of poets that are always gay,
For everybody knows or else should know
That if nothing drastic is done
Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out,
Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
Until the town lie beaten flat.

All perform their tragic play,
There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
That's Ophelia, that Cordelia;
Yet they, should the last scene be there,
The great stage curtain about to drop,
If worthy their prominent part in the play,
Do not break up their lines to weep.
They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
All men have aimed at, found and lost;
Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,
And all the drop-scenes drop at once
Upon a hundred thousand stages,
It cannot grow by an inch or an ounces.

On their own feet they came, or on shipboard,
Camel-back, horse-back, ass-back, mule-back,
Old civilisations put to the sword.
Then they and their wisdom went to rack:
No handiwork of Callimachus,
Who handled marble as if it were bronze,
Made draperies that seemed to rise
When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;
His long lamp-chimney shaped like the stem
Of a slender palm, stood but a day;
All things fall and are built again,
And those that build them again are gay.

Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
Are carved in lapis lazuli,
Over them flies a long-legged bird,
A symbol of longevity;
The third, doubtless a serving-man,
Carries a musical instrument.

Every discoloration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent,
Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay."
-- William Butler Yeats, "Lapis Lazuli"

Yet another weird dream last night, though I've forgotten almost all about it. Third person dream, in which I watched someone who resembled Ben Newman moving through a war zone that was right out of Total Annihilation, skilfully navigating the hazards as they came. Scenes shifted sometimes to memories of Windrush, the summer camp my extended family once owned in the Adirondacks. Our protagonist ran hither and thither, always watching the carnage around him but almost never participating. He ended up in my room, talking with some other male character. It was only this that showed me our lead character was me. Then it got more confusing. I had some rare, debilitating disease, one that only I knew about. The gentleman with me in my room didn't believe me when I said I had it--it was one of those diseases that everyone has read about, and consequently, no one ever gets. I woke up.

This seems to be the "Yeats Issue" of the daily show. Here's another.

"Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours' eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult."
-- William Butler Yeats, "To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing"