Old Daily Shows--March 2002

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

Friday March 1, 2002 Bread with Amelia

Sometimes I wonder whether what matters isn't what you do, but rather what you teach other people to do, in a sort of roundabout Jesus-loaves-and-fishes kind of way.

Well, today, I taught Amelia the fine art of baking French bread in the style of Mme. Clergeon of Berd'huis, France. There are lots of little things that go into bread, and I tried to touch on them whilst giving a bit of the philosophy that I feel is hard to separate from making bread.

Learn to love the smell of yeast in water. Appreciate its power. Give your yeast warm water to live in, and give it some honey to eat. Let it sit there for a while, and then give it flour and salt. Stir. Always keep your bread dough warm. Grease your rising bowl, if you wish, but cover it with a damp towel and put it somewhere warm--in a warm-but-not-hot oven, if that's what you've got.

The piece of bread-making advice that has served me in the greatest stead over the years is, I think, an ideological one that I got from my father. Every time I ever saw him make bread, at some point in its craft he would open up whatever container it was in, usually whilst it was rising, and say "hello, bread!" Proponents of yoga, t'ai chi, Wicca, and various other things will say "aha." Gotta greet the bread, acknowledge it. Hegel would talk about how the bread needs recognition of its worth in order to succeed in life. I would just say "bread works well when you treat it with respect."

Spray your oven with water. Don't worry too much about how much of which ingredient to use--pay attention to your intuition, and you'll get it right.

And that's a lot of what's needed to get it right, with bread. 1.25 C water, 2.5 tsp yeast, 3 C flour, 1 tsp salt, a little honey, some time, work, and heat, and you've got bread.

With such good advice, you'd think I could convince my body to get over being sick.

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Sunday March 3, 2002 My fairytale princess

I'm up too late again, having spent a while working on this dorky 12-tone composition I have to write for Music 15. A while ago, Elizabeth and I gave Joy her (belated) birthday present--a set of five bright yellow buttons with "100% SLUG" emblazoned thereon in navy type. They're from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and we ordered them specially for Joy, who has a thing for slugs, and banana slugs in particular. The banana slug is UC-Santa Cruz's mascot, and so I thought it would be good to get her some insignia.

She was pleased, I think.

Once upon a time, there was a fairy tale. Now, this was no ordinary fairy tale--this was a different one. In our story, there was a beautiful princess, beloved by all who knew her, who'd been captured by a horrible, evil dragon. Dragons are said to like beautiful, well-loved princesses, you know. And this dragon kept her in his cave, never letting her see the light or sing songs. She grew sad, and her countenance fell.

A young man from the West came to that land far away, to seek his fortunes. It seems that well-meaning, attractive, competent young men are always out seeking their fortunes in fairy tales, doesn't it? And they're always princes, too, in their own closeted fashion. Our story is no exception.

As you might guess, the prince and princess meet each other and fall head over hormones in love, while the dragon is out tormenting someone else for the day. Dragons are always evil, remember--no Patricia C. Wrede for you. But, sure enough, the dragon came back, and the princess screamed, wanting her hero to kill the dragon. But where was the weapon? He'd left it somewhere else. The prince dashed to the back of the cave, hoping to find a sword there.

Sure enough, he did, and after a long battle of a single blow, he slew the dragon. The princess swooned into his arms but immediately woke up again, because being asleep is all well and good but it just doesn't do to miss it when your dream man kisses you after a good rescue, and all, and they all lived happily ever after. Except the dragon, but you can't expect me to make the whole story turn out right, can you? The dragon's evil, and therefore does not get to live happily ever after, and is instead forced to die and spend eternity playing shuffleboard with Margaret Thatcher and Guglielmo Marconi.

That's a fun name. I think I'll type it again. Guglielmo Marconi.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes, the living-on-happily-ever-after bit. Right. So they did. And it was all very nice.

And that was the plot for my portion of Screw Your Roommate, the Swat tradition of Cabin Fever MANIA that comes about when most of campus has been deprived of contact-with-members-of-preferred-gender for so long that the tension can bend graphite. People set up their roommates with other people, all very secretly, and come up with amusing and humiliating things to make them do in Sharples to find out with whom they've been paired.

Of course, it's easy to figure out who to pair your roommate with when said roommate doesn't want to play because his girlfriend doesn't go to Swat. People with long-distance relationships have standing absolutions to protect them from Screw, if they want them, and my roommate took his option, so I didn't have to find him a Screw date. He Screwed me (Swattese for setting up at Screw-Your-Roommate) with Elizabeth. That's another thing--people who are dating get to be Scrod together.

So, that was our skit. I was the beautiful princess, Elizabeth the well-heeled-but-still-rogueish prince. They had me dress up in my skirt, t-shirt, and Joseph-esque many-colored vest, and stand on a table in Sharples playing a distress call on my bagpipes. Elizabeth ran up, wearing my kilt (which had been borrowed from me in advance), a black shirt, and a sash, as well as lots of Halloween costume knight gear, and we read a brief set of lines. She had to defeat Sasha in battle--he wore a well-designed CS dragon (using a mouse with one hand), and had been introduced as Charles Kelemen The CS Dragon. She slew him with a sword that was waiting in another room. People cheered for us.

My hero :) She rocks. Looked good in my kilt, too, which isn't entirely fair. But that's all right.

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Monday March 4, 2002 Atonal composition

Today was cool, mostly, despite extraordinary frustration during my education observation with the kids who just couldn't seem to care about anything at all.

But my atonal composition is mostly "done", and to reward myself for having finished it, I played with writing Perl scripts to parse my webjournal entries. I'm learning Perl, you see, and it's helpful to try solving some real problems while you're learning.

So I've now got a hand-crafted script to look through my archived webjournal entries and pluck out the one corresponding to a certain date, as supplied in argument form. To a real Perl coder, it's probably quite elementary, but setting up the regular expressions so they'd work on my entry style took some doing, and hey, at least it's a better first coding project than "Hello World".

So I'm doing well.

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Tuesday March 5, 2002 Practice of things

So Lex (Rozin, my Music 15 prof) seems to like my atonal composition. This is generally construed to be a good thing. It's short--about a minute long, written for piano and viola, and written in a style that's jazz-like more than it is second Viennese school. Which is to say, I don't like "atonal music", and so I will attempt to create atonal music that has, at least, sounds in it that are pleasing to my ear. No, I will not use the term "sonorities". Sounds. I can get into that debate later if you want, but for right now, we shall merely accept by fiat the position that sounds is preferable to sonoritii in this context.

I need, of course, to be able to play the bloody thing, however, which is always a sketchy proposition given my relative weakness of piano skill. Should be interesting. Nori will play the viola for me, and thereby earn my gratitude and stuff.

I practiced karate stuff tonight. It was cool. The evil clarinetist was annoying in English dance tonight, again, and played so loudly in my left ear that the only way I could tolerate it (in terms of pain management) was to get a paper napkin and jam it into my ear canal to block some of the sound. He actually thought it was funny. Excellent.

However. I am about to go to sleep, and it's only 1:10, which makes this several hours earlier than the norm for this week. And soon, break, with Rochester and Greek food and trains and car rides and sleeping and yay!

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Wednesday March 6, 2002 New blogs to read

Tiringness, with four hours of rehearsal, but the atonal composition is "done", and will be over after tomorrow morning. I need break, at this point.

But I found new people's blogs today, and that kept me busy for a while, as did yet more mucking about with Perl. So hello to Danny and Sarah and Elizabeth (2), and welcome. Fun to read what more people have to say, and these are even taking classes with me, so it's relevant to my life. Ooh ah, you say.

I had marvelously witty things to write, but I just spent the last half hour failing to conquer a given regular expression, and my mind has been sapped. If and when I get this thing set up, though, and assuming that SCCS allows users to have their own CGI scripts running on kestrel (anyone know?), the things I'm working on will do some coolish things, ranging from making my life easier to making it possible to do some nifty journal montages. And that's about all I'll say right now.

My parents sent me arborio rice! Arborio rice! And chips and salsa from Vermont! Awesomeness. I miss them, though, my parents.

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Thursday March 7, 2002 Atonal concert

And the atonal composition went well, and people liked it!

There are new links to follow in the box on the right.

I will eventually stop being lame and actually write something of merit, or at least length, here. However, I've got a paper to revise. Webjournaling can wait a bit, I think. Cheers!

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Saturday March 9, 2002 Rochester

So, I'm here, in Elizabeth's house in Rochester NY. It's quite cool. It's also quite busy, so you probably won't see too much of me until next Saturday.

This afternoon, we went paddling in Bay Creek in canoes. It was lots of fun. Then we went to Godspell at the Harley School, where Elizabeth went and her sister still goes to school. Well done show, and their theatre is very well appointed as high school theatres go. Nice place. Met lots of friends whose names I have already forgotten, alas...

Off to read about medieval music. Yay.

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Sunday March 17, 2002 Swatward

I have returned from my week in Rochester, spent with Elizabeth and her family. A big thank you to all of them: Elizabeth, Katie, Mary, and Ed. They're nice people, and I felt wonderful to share their home.

I will, of course, tell you more about it, if you want to hear it. Email me!

Had some really great food over break; Elizabeth and I cooked a lot of it. We work together well in the kitchen, helping each other with things without interfering. Kitchens are always fun to watch--there's such an intricate ballet that goes on among the people present--and I think we dance well together. Elizabeth is on the short list of people who've been entirely a joy to cook with. And such things we made! Pesto, pizza, saganakiopa, my dad's chicken piccata, more pasta, hot cheese soup from Recipes For A Small Planet, salt-water taffy, kadaife, latkes... we had fun together. Eventually, I'll hope to put the recipes up. And yes, I am working on a recipes page--like everything else, it waits for free time.

I'm considering buying a domain. It would be really nice to be able to do CGI scripting for the DS, and I'm also thinking about the email forwarding aspects of things. Until recently, I had a free forwarding account from Mindless.com that I used for most correspondence, thinking it wouldn't change as often as other things might. Well, Mindless.com is now charging for all its services, as a mail.com subsidiary, and so I don't have the account anymore. Basically, I don't want to deal with changing my email address. It would be nice to have a domain that was mine, that I could just use until I get tired of using email. The only downside I can think of is that it's $110 a year for the domain and web hosting. Still, I'm semi-seriously considering it. Thoughts?

I bought cookbooks. I love cookbooks.

I'm even smart! I was good at my compilers homework tonight! Yay! And so I can now sleep. Yay! Oh--go read Sarah K's blog. I just found her and was surprised to find myself linked. Yay Swat linkfesting. She's got a lot to say.

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Monday March 18, 2002 Ow, my face

Am pissy so will keep this short.

Ow, my fucking face. Ow, ow, ow, my fucking face. People should not break my face. Ow, ow, fucking, ow. OW.

I had a really good day, too, despite the hot water being broken again and the kids in Wallingford being not-interested-in-learning. It was a nice day, and I felt good about myself.

And I was tired and about to go to bed when a guy who's in my karate class and missed class tonight came by and asked what we'd done in class. I told him--he thought about one of the things we'd done, asked me to show it, then presented a variation for which the technique we'd been taught didn't work. Fine. I mused aloud about possible things to get out of the new position. He said "this would work" and head butted me. In the face. So hard that I couldn't see.

Apparently, I was supposed to resist the technique. Now, generally, when someone's demonstrating something for you, resisting the technique is likely to lead to pain or broken limbs, which is why you don't do it unless you're asked to. Of course I didn't resist. And so now the right side of my face is swelling up, incredibly painful, and will probably be purple tomorrow. It's hard to type with one hand when the other one's holding an ice pack to the face, and hard to see when the ice pack starts freezing your eyeball.

Well, maybe I'll not have a black eye by this weekend, when I have a belt test for karate and the RSCDS Spring Ball. At least I don't have a concert.

Dammit. You're not supposed to do techniques at high speed, without control, and you're really not supposed to break your partner. Dammit. And it hurts more again so I think I'm just going to go take some drugs and fall asleep with the ice pack on my face and pray. Good night.

Also, my Cooking With Cornelius cookbook came today. This is a happy goodness, as it has many recipes in it that are favorites of mine. Yay.

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Tuesday March 19, 2002 Runny babbit

Yesterday I held converse with a bunny rabbit, perhaps the first of the season for me. I was walking back to my dorm in the evening after karate class, in the velvety softness that follows a day of rain. Streetlights have a bit of an aura around them, and sounds are... different. More muffled, perhaps. The moon looks like a snow moon to me, though my North Country sense for snow rarely ends up being accurate here in the south. People laugh at me for calling Pennsylvania the south. Aah, well.

But yes, my rabbit. I was walking back to the dorm, and I saw a SEPTA train pull into the station, off to my left, headed outbound. For some reason, I like very much to be in the train tunnel when the train goes by overhead--call it strange superstition if you will, the same thing that makes me love noticing clocks when it's 11:11 or 1:11 or 2:22 or 12:34, the same reason I hold my breath going through the Lehigh Valley Tunnel on the way to or from home. It's touching another side of the world, somehow. And so I began jogging, to be in the tunnel on time.

Before this, I'd seen the little darting shape of a runny babbit (Heather and Kira's name for them) on the sidewalk, and it had run off into the grass, whereupon I'd stopped paying attention to it, but as I was jogging, a small bundle of rabbit hopped back onto the sidewalk in front of me and started down the path to the tunnel. I wondered if it wanted to be in the tunnel for the train as well.

I stopped jogging, and watched my friend of the moment. We looked at each other. I smiled, and received an answering twitch of the nose. We stood quietly, about 3 feet apart, so close we might have touched, and we looked at each other some more.

The train, leaving the station now, let fly its horn. The moment ended, and the rabbit ran off to the side of the sidewalk and into a field. I walked into the tunnel and stood, listening to the train passing by overhead. I turned to look back the way I'd come, and I saw my friend running along the sidewalk, away from the tracks, and then cutting hard to the right, disappearing from my view. I walked home smiling, afterwards.

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Wednesday March 20, 2002 People in education

Today, in education class, we had a small group discussion that involved, among others, me, Danny-whose-name-rhymes-with-moss-not-gross, Elizabeth, SarahC, and SarakK. How exciting!

And today, I didn't really study enough for my compilers midterm, but I'm not too worried at the moment. I worked a little bit on my library prize entry.

Tomorrow is five months with Elizabeth? Five months! I just made her something. Yay. Sleep now.

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Thursday March 21, 2002 Five months!

Five months today!

Had my compilers midterm, and survived. Susie's off to France tomorrow. MoCo was intensely frustrating; a decision draws near. I'm curious about what's going on with some often-smiling friends from Ed14.

Five months!

Today, while I was walking home from my midterm, I found chives. Growing, wild, on the lawn at Swarthmore. I'd always thought I smelled them when the grass was freshly mown, and sure enough, there they are. Chives!

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Friday March 22, 2002 Nori

I enjoy Nori. Also when my friends are happy. And particularly when they're happy with each other.

Belt test tomorrow.

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Saturday March 23, 2002 A less good day

Today is one of those days that really, really needs to be over.

Started out on a bad note when my next-door neighbor had really loud people over until 4:15 in the morning, and I was so exhausted that I couldn't even find enough energy to get up and ask them to be quiet. I finally fell asleep so tired that I didn't sleep well.

Then I messed something up at my karate belt test. I fixed it, but since we're testing against ourselves, I don't know if it was okay. Darnit, I'm a better student than what I showed today. So who knows whether I deserve to wear an orange belt? We'll see about that. Then there was a misunderstanding, one that I felt embarrassed me unduly. We later cleared it up, but it lent tone to the general tenor of the day. We didn't get to spar, which is something I'd rather been looking forward to doing. Grar.

We got home at 4:15. I ran through Sharples, trying to find something to eat, since I'd missed lunch rather comprehensively and hadn't gotten any breakfast. Sharples yielded nothing at all save a few cold mozzarella sticks. Yum. Nutritional, too. Back to ML after that, got to ML at 4:45, realizing that I'd need to go back up to campus 20 minutes later to help move sound equipment for the Stupid Ball.

So I went back up, feeling generally like shit (oh, I'm sick, too--sinuses are insane, making it impossible for me to bend forward, and throat so hoarse my voice teacher made me stop singing and gave me the number of an EARNOSETHROAT docteur) to help move sound equipment. Turns out it wasn't all there. In true boy scout style, I offered to help move the other stuff. This was, however, not so easy, since it didn't fit in the car. Had to take it apart. Had to run and find my screwdrivers first. After all that, it was 6:40, and I realized that I had missed having dinner.

I also realized that, because of the problems in getting the equipment, Justin wasn't going to be able to set the sound system up alone in time for the ball. Not his fault--it just works like this sometimes. So I offered to stay and help set up. So I did.

I got back to ML at 9:15, having missed dinner. I picked up some chicken fingers and fries at Tarble, which made me feel quite sick. I guess the whole thing would have bothered me less if more than one or two people had thought to thank me for helping out. I mean--I helped with sound, I got public safety to open the lighting booth, I figured out the archaic lighting board since other people were failing to use it, I figured out how to use the batten winches so people could put up banners... and people didn't seem to appreciate it.

Now, generally, when I'm sick, it's that much harder for me to deal with things. So having a nasty headache and working on all this shite while having trouble walking in a straight line (98.9 degrees temperature--high for me) was not my ideal choice for the evening. I didn't dance, as I was too tired, and I'm not sure I'll even go to the brunch dance tomorrow.

I miss caring about Scottish dance as anything other than an excuse for music.

Back home, where lovely stupid arguments and misunderstandings have occupied the rest of the time, keeping me from getting anything done. I'm sad and irritated and sick and exhausted and I don't like a cappella music or dancing any more and people are stupid and annoying and I probably am exactly the same, and I just wish I could go away from here to a place where there's no stress, no papers to write, no annoying people, and no specified return date.

I guess you could say I'm upset, and not very happy, and I'll be fine, but I'd like it very much if the world would stop kicking me in the head for a little while. I still can't touch my face much, and I've gotten a little bit of a black eye (a misnomer--it's actually a rather ugly shade of yellow-green, like the crayons you never wanted to use, that hue so popular in the green and red plaid pants of the 1970s) to decorate my cheek dexter.

I was going to have fun today. Tomorrow is taken by compilers homework, whether or not I also go to the ball. So I guess you can say that my weekend was wasted by today. What a cheery thought.

Is tuning too much to ask? Is it worth the cost of leaving that question in my webjournal?

Nah. Instead I will sit in my room, listen to S&G's "Blues Run The Game", and try like mad to modulate my energy. Later, folks.

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Sunday March 24, 2002 Palm Sunday Potatoes

So today was rather a better day, mostly. I discovered a beautiful, beautiful recipe, completely by accident, simply through the decision to attempt a new method of cooking.

Palm Sunday Potatoes - Prep: 5 minutes. Cook: 10 minutes.

  • 3 medium-to-large potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsps. oil, be it olive or otherwise
  • Thyme leaves
  • Basil leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, be it garlic or otherwise
  • Ground black pepper

Stick your pan on the stove and set it for low heat. Chop the onion to fairly small bits. Toss them into the pan. Make 1"-long shoestrings with the potato--thanks to Jacques Pépin, I can now do this really fast. Throw them in, as well.

Toss in the water, oil, and spices, and turn the heat to medium or medium high. Hot enough to boil the water. Cover the pan with a properly-sized lid. Leave the lid on so that the potatoes can steam. Steam them until they're nicely tender, and take off the lid so the water can evaporate. The oil will then start to fry the potatoes. Mash them in the pan with your implement of destruction, be it spatular or otherwise. Mash them well! Then brown the resultant mash until you're happy with it.

The title comes from the fact that today is Palm Sunday, and the fact that I can't think of names for things. "Smashed potatoes" doesn't quite work, nor does "fried and mashed potatoes". "Steamed mash" doesn't work, nor "strashed" or "myed" potatoes, though that last provoked the thought that "myed" potatoes would be great, because it would mean that there were more potatoes for me. But I digress. In a fit of logic, Elizabeth suggested "Palm Sunday Potatoes", and it stuck. Maybe if I'm really lucky, in thirty years I'll get an email forward from someone with this recipe in it, and a story about how Jesus Christ himself was served these same pancakes on Palm Sunday so many years ago, by a poor woman who had nothing to offer but her excellent cooking skills. She met him somewhere and fed him potato cakes--she'd been to the New World, y'know, and so she had potatoes. Potatoes are, as we know, a traditional Jewish food when made into latkes, and she was a very traditional Jew, and all, and all.

That'll be quite cool, if I get that in an email forward. Anyway.

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So that's quite cool. Yay!

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Monday March 25, 2002 (posted later) Reminiscing

It's interesting how writing changes things and can summon back to the present things that happened a long time ago. I've been reading old entries today, hunting for something, and in the midst of it, I happened on this. Ugh. That was a really frightening dream, and the funny bit is that I remembered all of it, instantly, through reading a single line about it. Not even the whole entry--just a line of text, and I remembered what it felt like to see the Empire State Building leaning over, perilously close to falling on me, and leaning farther. I remember the fear of looking down the side of a skyscraper and knowing that I needed to jump just right to hit the window-washer's scaffold. I remember the lights on the ground, shining up, and the varied things that led up to that point in the dream.

This sort of thing engages the reason why I started writing here: I wanted to be able to look back and remember.

Various people have told me that the various emcees of the Spring Ball announced my name and thanked me for my help with the sound stuff, as I knew they would. That's all okay. I'm not angry now, nor did I expect to be after writing. However, the point of the journal is as a record, not a continually updated picture, and so I am going to leave Saturday's entry as it stands, unedited. My thanks to everyone who helped with the dance.

Then there's this one, entitled Discourse on sparkling. Elizabeth and I had been dating for a little while, and most of the relevant people had been informed in person, and so it was time to write a little bit.

And you know what? Every good relationship I've heard of has had good times and rocky ones, better and worse. Ours is no exception, and I really like that about it. We're tough, and we talk, and we haven't yet found anything that seems likely to break us. That's really neat.

I started crying a little bit in reading a eulogy for a friend's parent on the eve of unimaginable change.

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Wednesday March 27, 2002 Renewal


I have begun, again, the process of renewing my space and cleaning it. My cooking tools have been, mostly, cared for and given new places to occupy. The food is off the floor, away from the pillaging rights of the mouse that seems to have found my room. Cans of assorted vegetable matter line the top of my bookshelf, my windowsill, and the top of my fridge, next to the aloe plant. I dusted a bit, moved things around, and tried to retake the space. I put up a calendar my dad made me, along with a bunch of cards that've been intended for the walls but never quite gotten there. Sitting atop them all, of course, is the smug-looking cat in a beret, gazing down on the room in a very assured fashion. I like it that there are some cats in my room--this one, on the wall, and the three Window Scampis--black African soapstone carvings of felines in varying sizes--that sit on the windowsill, almost inside the aloe plant, just as the real Scampi would do if she were here.

I have a copy of Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces out of the library, on the unwitting recommendation of Kendra, and it seems promising thus far. I like books of stories, and books about stories, and it is good that this one begins with an excerpt from the Grimm brothers.

I love my edition of the Grimm tales--it's thick, with a good heft, and has a lovely silvery cover with a picture of a man and a woman. He's wearing chain mail, with a circlet around his head, and she sleeps in white beneath a covering of glass. His mailed hand rests on the glass as he looks at her.

Grimm is great. They're real, and they're interesting. My favorite tale is probably the one of the princess, the hamster, and the master thief--it's the one that I tell semi-often to other people, and is a great story. Someday I'll be able to tell more of them from memory, but until then, the few that I really know keep me very happy indeed.

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Thursday March 28, 2002 Recipes up!

Well, the recipes page is finally up, in preliminary form. Enough people have been asking for it that I figured I would devote a little time to working on it. There are, of course, lots of recipes to be put up there, and there's a question to be answered, one I'll pose to you: should I keep the recipes page as it is now, with only recipes that are my own creations, or should I put up typed versions of my favorite recipes by other people, as well?

Anyway, there's some good eating to be had there.

I came up with nifty choreography for our Scottish dance demonstration, and it works!

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Friday March 29, 2002 Orange rabbit package

I deleted something like 1700 email messages today.

Saw Cabaret. Am tired and a bit sad because of it.

But my parents sent me a great package, with an orange rabbit in it, and chocolate, and pens and stuff, and so there is much bouncing to be done!

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Sunday March 31, 2002 Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

I made excellent food. I will tell you about it, I hope.

My uncle Ralph died last night. He was a good man, and I'm going to miss him. As always happens, things got in the way of writing tonight, but I'll hope to find time to say some things about him sometime soon.

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