Old Daily Shows--May 2001

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

Thursday May 31, 2001 Practicing and Walden

I've been amusing myself with old DS entries, and found that this is the 166th entry, and the 75th day of not missing any entries.

Read Yet More Walden, ate a bagel... Oh. I beat my computer into submission and forced it to defragment its hard drive. It's been refusing to do it for five months. Yeah, that's right. You're mine.

Sorry. Practiced tunes, talked to Brian Lawless (I get to compete with the band!), called Mary Ellen Scannell about Pinewoods (still no response, which worries me a bit). Ate nifty chicken thing that Dad made for dinner. Wrote many folk dance emails. Pushed a little bit farther through the email backlog.

Moved a little closer to finishing the dress form thing. Whee!

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Wednesday May 30, 2001 Back in my day...

Artistic Endeavors was tonight. For those outside Potsdam, AE is an annual concert/show thing at the high school, showcasing various student small ensembles and works by many art students. It's cool.

I realized, though, that doing classical-style choral arrangements of Billy Joel and the Righteous Brothers just doesn't work. "You've lost that lovin' feelin'" loses a whole lot more when every consonant is perfectly enunciated, every rhythm is perfectly even, and the dynamics are performed perfectly, the same way they're written on the page.

It loses a little bit more when you don't do some of those things perfectly.

I remember standing on that stage, making sure to sing clearly, with good diction and excellent tone. I didn't use the excessive vibrato, I don't think, but that's almost incidental.

I remember dancing on stage for All-County Show Choir, where I'd landed a solo in our performance of RENT's "Seasons Of Love". Oh, I sang it like the good little choirboy I was. I'd never heard RENT, of course, and so I interpreted it the way people always do... sigh. A technically beautiful performance, full of well-intended feeling, but just wrong. The wrong style.

Now, my bagpipe band plays a rondeau by Jeremiah Clarke, and that's fine by me, so perhaps I'm a hypocrite, but I think there are certain kinds of music where the style matters at least as much as the notes. "For The Longest Time" is another of them.

I guess I'm just becoming a bit of a curmudgeon in my old age. Maybe the wisdom'll hit soon. :>

And lo, there was much practicing. And I learned how to make onion gravy this afternoon, because I decided I suddenly wanted to learn. It was good. Perhaps soon I will make the tofu thing with which I've been threatening myself--I've got a friend who told me her ginger marinade for tofu will make anyone like it.

Ooh. Studio recording space seems to be available at North Country Public Radio... Perhaps I can record something this summer. That would be fun. Anyway, sleep calleth.

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Tuesday May 29, 2001 Piping and Civilization

The problem with games like Civilization II is that they take forever. More specifically, they take forever, often in a non-useful way.

No comments about the utility of game-playing, please :>

What I mean is, in this game, I had an alliance with this tiny little civilization after I'd conquered the rest of the planet. The time had come to wipe them away... and I couldn't. Why? Because you can't attack people when you're allied, and you can only break alliances through diplomatic processes. Well, you can't very well have a diplomatic conference when the computer refuses to accept your offer of parley. For eight turns. Of 10-20 minutes each.

The problem is that the game drags on interminably once the outcome is no longer in doubt. It's annoying.

Spencerville was fun. My bag needs seasoning, but I've got a happy new reed that plays well; soon I will tune it! And many many new tunes to learn. It was good to see some old faces. Kathy said I looked like I'd lost weight; I don't think I have, but it was a nice thing to say :) Lots of good people affiliated with that band. I like them.

And I got a tape in the mail from Viveka (Fox, a fiddler with whom I'm playing in June), a postcard from Autumn, and that was pretty much it. Fun stuff.

I love these pants. They're ridiculously comfortable--exactly what I wanted.

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Monday May 28, 2001 Driving and Walden

We went to Massena today, to visit the mall, BJ's, and Wal-Mart. Oh, the bad shopping!

I am now the proud owner of some new pants, a shirt, and some shorts. Wahoo!

Also I got to drive. We like driving. Yay, driving. Got to amuse my mother with Kimberly's copy of The Best of The Basement, compiled by Dr. Demento. It was highly good.

I'm reading Walden again, which is good for me and fun, as well as reading too many other things. I read part of a book on altering menswear today, along with the other stuff. Aah, summer.

Shye is, apparently, back. I will say hello soon. Yay! And tomorrow I'm off to Spencerville for piping lessons. Good good!

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Sunday May 27, 2001 Randomness, writ small

In further proof of the idea that I've got too much free time in the summer, I responded to something NYCBabe wrote on Honeybear's guestbook. Here it is. The best part is that most of the people who'll see it know me and will be amused by its tongue-in-cheek nature.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, in 1927, "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and the fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." It is through the misguided intent of following this advice that NYCBabe's words come to us; her aim, honorable though it is, is faulty, and so it falls to me to correct it.

Honigbar's original reference was to "Aquarius", by The Fifth Dimension. NYCBabe takes issue with this, claiming the song comes to us from the musical HAIR, written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Gault McDermott.

The short answer is that they've both got part of the answer. I must lend credence to Honigbar's choice, and I'll explain why.

First, it's his webjournal, and he can damn well say what he pleases. The quantity of moral outrage that Ms. Babe demonstrates is equalled only by that which I show at people talking about plaid kilts. Anyway. We'll just leave that aside, shall we--it's for humor value.

On to the meat of the argument. NYCBabe claims that the Fifth Element's cover is a horrific travesty, a crime against drug-using humanity, a crying shame, for God's sake. While this may be true, and I won't comment, her claim that he misattributed the piece to which he listened is entirely without merit.

So, she says Fifth Element modified the piece before releasing it in 1972. This presumes that the music was somewhat modified, not the same as the original, etc. And yet she wants us to call them the same thing... Can this be?

This inspires the desire to go sniffing for inconsistency. Ms. Babe, have you a copy of Blues Traveler's "Runaround"? How about "Basketcase", by Green Day? Any Aerosmith? Have you got these in your collection?

I do hope not. For the sake of your internal consistency, you should have "Canon in D", by Johann Pachelbel. Same basic tune, just a few changes worked on it in the meantime.

What you're dealing with here is a _version_ of the original, not a re-release of the original. In this sense, it would be entirely inappropriate to call it "Aquarius" or anything else by Rado et al. Though the writing may be theirs (it is, and the album notes credit them), the performance is The Fifth Element. If you were listening to a mix tape made of Swat's A Cappella Jamboree from this spring, would you refer to a performance by Dave Matthews of his "Crash Into Me"?

Nope. You'd talk about Mixed Company, and what a great job they did of the cover. When groups do covers, if only a single name is given, it's that of the performing group.

Yours in Usage,

In other news, we cleaned, made stew, and went to Grandma and Byron's house for dinner. It was much fun. I played flute and whistle for them, and it was good. Yay!

Played way too much Civilization II this evening. Doh! On the other hand, I was responsible. Went and started re-reading my linear algebra textbook. Wahoo. Wrote to a friend.

Kyla's done! We immortalize her efforts in type.

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Saturday May 26, 2001 Books, piping, haircut

I am in dire need of bookmarks.

Too many books in progress, and it's hard to remember where I am with all of them. And so, a great Bookmark Procuration shall occur, be it through visits to bookstores or through home manufacture.

Research pays off! I've found that the flute tune I've had stuck in my head has a name. It's from Chris Layer's solo CD Return of the Rivers, as I thought, and it's "The Fading Light", apparently by Davy Spillane, or maybe by Keith Murphy.

I've realized that one of my dreams, be it for this summer or another, is to climb a mountain, one with a rocky peak like Wright or Algonquin, and stand atop it, playing highland pipes. Ideally, I'll know some piobaireachd by then; it seems the sort of thing it'd be appropriate to play up there. The logistical difficulties are slightly annoying--bagpipes are Heavy and Large. Someday, though.

Mom and I made Indian food tonight, in a pseudo-reprise of my Batten House adventures. Eggplant bharta (which came out very differently), my couscous, lentils, and salad with a roasted garlic dressing I made. I was disappointed by the dressing--overpowered by the mustard, and thus the roasted garlic and shallots weren't really noticeable. Still, it was fun, and a good experiment. Will do better next time.

I spent much of the rest of the day in the basement working on the stand for the Dummy. The Dummy being, of course, the dress form with which I had such fun tormenting Dave Mister yesterday. :) It will be cool once I finish it; need to run to the hardware store and get another 5' of 1 1/2" Sch. 40 PVC first, though. Heh. I am the PVC Sculpture Guy.

Oh, and I got a haircut, meaning that I'm now adorable again.

Wow, it's strange to listen to this album now that I know some of the people involved. I assume it must be Chris singing here, but man... his voice doesn't sound like that in person. Maybe it's Peter MacFarlane.

I think I had a point in here somewhere... perhaps tomorrow.

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Friday May 25, 2001 Duct tape and chocolate sauce

Want to see where I spent my evening? Have a look at this.

It's a dress form that my mom and I are making. It will be stuffed, and used in the making of clothing. It's got about two rolls of duct tape on it, and it's damn hard to breathe whilst wearing it. Still, it's cool. It will assist in the making of Prince Charlie, Argyll, Montrose, or whatever the order of the day turns out to be with regard to kilt jacket. Fun fun.

I made chocolate sauce for Reachout today... We were contemplating ice cream, and I suggested that if we had some Bakers' chocolate, hot sauce could be had. Tonya procured some chocolate, and I made sauce. It was yummy.

I have this random compulsion to speak like a pirate today. I don't know why.

My legs are happy/slightly sore from lots of practice with dancing-related things. I'm doing balance exercises and such while on the balls of my feet. Trying to get better at jumping with my calves, too. Soon it will be all good. Yay.

La Bottine Souriante is on the headphones. It's now too late at night, because I'm solving the world's problems with a friend of mine. It's annoying when specific problems choose to ignore your need to, say, sleep. Still, though, it's good, or will be.

I started plowing through some of my backlog of email today. Eventually it'll all get finished. Really. :)

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Thursday May 24, 2001 Cookies, piping, and whatnot

We made cookies today, mom and I did. Postman's Envelopes, only mutated into yummy thumbprint cookies filled with apricot and strawberry jam. Yum. Dad made quiches (not at the same time, of course). I made loud noises while messing with my reeds for the pipes.

Karen and Brian (Mahon and Lawless, my piping instructors with Spencerville) emailed me tonight, and I got their email about 5 minutes after debating whether to call them tonight or wait until a more civilized hour tomorrow... Cool. They seem to want me back for Spencerville's band, so that'll be cool. John Kaplan talked with my mom while doing work stuff today and said we should get together and do piping things sometime--definitely! Perhaps I can find him and Dan Whalen and we can have a Bag Seasoning Party. Wahoo!

Yet more unpacking, putting away of stuff, etc. Found my Box Of Random Stuff From My Desk. Yay. But I've got music, I've got rhythm, I've got my love, who could ask for anything more?

Ahem. I unpacked my CDs. Yay. I'm currently listening to random Spanish bagpipes. Yay! With oboes and synthesizers. And a clarinet! How random.

Now, however, I must turn them off, put the cookies away, and go to sleep. Before I go, let me show you one of the reasons I like cooking at home:

Yes, that's our spice rack. Or rather, that's most of our spice rack. There's more in another cabinet off to the left, and in various other places in the kitchen. I like spices. A lot.

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Wednesday May 23, 2001 Bagpipes and Perl

You know you're in a strange space when you measure the days by adding 1 to the day you wrote the last time... Oh well!

Saw two-hour season finale of Law & Order tonight. What a thing it is to have time to waste on trashy TV!

Learned some Perl, wrote some notes, listened to some music, unpacked some more. Started making cookies with mom; we shall finish them tomorrow.

Amusing note du jour: I played bagpipes today, and Scampi was not happy. She woke up, came downstairs, rubbed against my mother's leg, and lodged a formal complaint. She was displeased. I was out in the yard. I've discovered some flaws in my piping technique that arise from whistle playing--now to go about fixing them.

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Tuesday May 22, 2001 Cooking and too many books

Yet more unpacking today, in which I found that I probably do have more books than there are bookshelves, for real. An interesting problem to have. On the other hand, almost everyone I know has too many books, and it's just great. I'm not too worried.

Rabi and I are discussing randomness again. Currently it's randomness of the Emilici and going abroad flavors. Fun.

I made corn with ginger for dinner, to complement Dad's steak Diane. It was certainly good, though there are some things I would do differently. First, don't believe that since the oil is not frying the things you've put into it, it's not really really hot. This is a Bad Idea. It leads to your continuing the recipe, pouring in the can of tomatoes, and watching as the oil and water interact and shower your arms and the stove with hot oil. Ow. That's just dorkiness, though, and no harm done. Next time, I will put in more cumin, more ginger, less oil, less cilantro, and perhaps a little garlic or onion. Yum!

Also, I made the mustard today--yummy, with extra garlic. It's very good; Dad used it in the sauce for the steak this evening. Yum, encore!

I'm thinking of heading upstairs and curling up with Programming Perl. I'll leave you all to whatever. Safe trips to those who are traveling tomorrow.

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Monday May 21, 2001 Reading and mustard

Happy anniversary to my parents, and happy birthday to my dad!

Today I sat around a lot. Put my computer together. Played Diablo forever, since I got it back. A friend borrowed it from me four or five years ago, and his parents returned it a little while ago. Heh.

Parents' new computer came today; a new Dell PIII. Should be a sweet machine. We shall set it up and play with it tomorrow. Yes yes.

We went to Phoebe's Restaurant as a birthdayversary celebration today, and I had a highly excellent fettucine alfredo. Yum yum yum. It was most excellent, as was their bruschetta. I have become a bruschetta fiend. Yummy.

I read a book yesterday! What a concept, eh? The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop. It's a favorite, and a book over which I bonded with various Swatties. We love it! Yay! I wonder, though, with a villain named Alastor, given how closely modeled the rest of it seems to be to the author's life, if she was ever wronged by an Alastair. But wow, having time to read a book... that's not for class... on which I won't be tested... cool. I'm reading Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook right now. I want to make her corn with ginger recipe. Yes yes. Happy good. And sweet rice. Mmm.

I've started a batch of the red wine and garlic mustard I make, whose recipe I got from Kyla's mother last year. Mustard seeds are currently soaking in red wine and wine vinegar, the better to be formed into fantabulous piquant mustard. It will be good, and you will be envious, unless you're one of my parents, in which case you will be happy, yea, pleased.

For those still working on it, packing is stupid.

Home is more like the right kind of temperature than Pennsylvania is. Yay! And I will play bagpipes outside soon. And then people will write to me and it will be all good. Until then, sleep, reading, and learning are the order of the day. Cheers!

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Sunday May 20, 2001 Home

I'm home now. As usual, it's a mixture of good and strange.

Scampi is trying to decide whether or not I'm an okay person anymore, given that I left her alone with my parents for a long long time. I patted her and gave her catnip though, so perhaps I'll return to the ranks of the Good People eventually. She's got this neat catnip sausage thing my mother made for her, and she attacks it quite regularly.

Our trip home was really quite normal--long, since we got out of Swarthmore late. I took a break for a nap at 6:30 am, intending to wake up at 8 or 8:30, and ended up still asleep at 10 when my parents got there. Doh. A long two hours of packing later, we were on the road. Had a conversation with Rabi's dad in the driveway--my parents were intrigued to learn that she'd grown up in Burke, NY (a tiny little town) one road over from where my aunt Dottie has lived forever. And then the driving, which I started off with Alasdair Fraser's The Road North. It's amusing how much better I know the part of the Blue Route that passes between Swarthmore and Ardmore than I used to. Ah, well. Change is good, I guess, sometimes.

I wish I'd had more time to say goodbye. It's particularly hard at the ending-times, because you say goodbye to people and realize that you've been working so hard that you didn't get to know them much at all. There are some you know well, of course, but many others who get shifted over to the category of 'missed opportunities' at the end of the year. Alas.

Slightly more about yesterday, since I was too busy to write: Garden Party was nice. I saw Kimberly, Rachel, Natalie, Katie, Jesse, Jeanne!, Sarah, and various people. Got to meet Kimberly's mom, who seems quite nice. Saw Allison (Adelman, BMC '03, and a friend of Nori's) carrying a tray at the party, and said hello. Got to see Eilis (Monahan, pronounced AYlish) before she graduated, and got to meet Jessica Auerbach, who's a close friend of Kimberly's. Goodbyes are always hard, because you don't want to lose people. What to say? Who knows. Ideally I'll get to see people again, sooner rather than later.

Susie came over to Bryn Mawr and saw people, and then she and I took my parents (with Jesse Ball, who walked with us) to Goodhart Music Room. Jesse had to run off, so Susie and I played a concert for my parents, to show them some of what we've been doing in the last year. It seemed a good way to go, though I feel sort of irrationally sad about it in retrospect. Anyway. The four of us went out to dinner at Ristorante Primavera in Wayne, after I played bagpipes outside Goodhart for a little while. People seem to like bagpipes at Bryn Mawr, a sentiment of which I approve. Kimberly tells me they hired an abominable pipe band to play for graduation, though. Anyway. Dinner for me was scaloppine pizzaiola, veal medallions in a sauce of tomatoes, mozzarella, capers, and calamata olives. Very tasty. We had some tiramisu for dessert; yes, it's stupid and American, but I like it. Back to Swat for packing, after goodbyes for me to Susie.

Megan Hallam was in town, and I got to see her and catch up a little bit while packing. Yay. People ran off, and I packed some more. Ugh.

It was, as usual, an interesting experience to live at Swat. A good year, if not always easy or pleasant. I hope others found it so as well.

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Saturday May 19, 2001: Packing

Another journal from 4:35 am. The difference is I'm not going to sleep this time.

I hate packing. A lot.

I like garden party though, and I'm going to miss people a lot. Sigh. Good Italian dinner with parents and Susie in Wayne (Ristorante Primavera) after playing a concert with Susie for the parents. Saw a random Swarthmore van at sushi restaurant nearby.

People are going away. Sigh. I'm one of them. Back to putting my life into little boxes.

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Friday May 18, 2001: Mozart and parents

Et lux perpetua luceat eis (and let endless light shine upon them)

It's 4:13 a.m., and I'm still awake. For the second day in a row. However, I've got something to show for it: I am, at last, done with academic work. A fugue in four voices (at least in name) has been written, and doesn't sound entirely like modern music, and it's now finally out of my hair. Turn it in tomorrow, and it will be all good. The fact that it's not human-playable is fine, since we didn't have to write for a keyboard instrument. String quartet sounds good. Woodwind quartet?

Kyrie eleison (lord, have mercy)

More people left today. Two people (Abby and Mini-Émilie) commented that I'm a really good hugger today. When I asked what that meant, both said that I give strong hugs, and that's good. Petite-Émilie said that my hugs were safe and cuddly and unassuming. Abby said I'm the right height. Whatever the reason, it's good to be appreciated.

Dies irae, dies illa solvet saeclum in favilla (day of wrath, that day will dissolve the earth into ashes)

I have to pack up everything in here by sometime far too soon. I'm not ready! Ack! I love home, but it would be nice to be here for a day without some sort of stressor :)

Quidquid latet apparebit (whatever is hidden will appear)

Tomorrow I'll pack, then head to Bryn Mawr for Kimberly's garden party, which is another of those Bryn Mawr traditions that Swat doesn't know about. It will be cool--lots of people I know should be there, and it'll be nice to say goodbye. Well, nice... you know what I mean.

Inter oves locum praesta (give me a place among the sheep)

Who says that Catholics never had any fun? :>

Voca me cum benedictis. Gere curam mei finis (count me among the blest. care for my fate)

In case you're wondering, the Latin quotations are from the text of a Mass, the one used by the Roman Catholic church until Vatican II. I'm quoting it because I got to hear Susie perform Mozart's Requiem (a new edition: Robert Levin. It's wonderful, better than Süssmayr's) with Music Group and Orchestra 2001. Wonderful, so good. Saw lots of people I knew--Scott Higgs and Susie, Jim Freeman, Bernie Kunkel, Jeannine Maddox (timpani, and a fellow percussionist for Scheherezade). It was so very good. They gave a world premiere of Margaret Garwood's flowersongs, based on the poetry of E.E. Cummings. So good. And so it goes.

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Thursday May 17, 2001: Bryn Mawr. Existentialism? Life.

Today freaked me out a little bit with how good and how sad it was. It's now 3:10 am, and I've just (finally, you say) finished copying out A Waltz For A Friend. I'm still not happy with any of the dedications I've invented, so I'll leave it undedicated for now; at any rate, it's done, it sounds sort of like music, and it uses Romantic harmonic techniques. It's sitting on Jesse's desk right now.

I met with the last of the four music theory position candidates today, and was again impressed. I really want to take a class with this guy--he seems comfortable, down-to-earth, and has an interest in music psychology. Neat stuff. I'll be pleased by any of the top three.

And then I went to Bryn Mawr. Ooh, Bryn Mawr. What to say?

Bryn Mawr's a gorgeous place, filled with wonderful people, just like Swat. I've been more introspective than I can truly afford lately, and one of the things I've wondered is why I like spending time there so much. I think it's partly that there are neat people with interesting things to say, but also something deeper than that--when I'm with the Mawrtyrs, Swarthmore can't touch me. Classwork, people here, irritation with people or whatever, Sharples, the Latest Fiasco of Dorm Life, or whatever else--these can't find me when I'm in Batten House or dancing at Goodhart. For a number of reasons, it's rare for Swatties to make the trip to Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and I've found that I'm glad of that. I like having the chance to show people that there are nice Swatties, and I like not having to deal with Swarthmore.

See, I love Swat, but there comes a time when I need to step away. I've been realizing this more and more--the things I love about this place are still there, but some of the initial charm has worn off and I need some space in which to appreciate the school. Lately, if people have denied me that space, I've left and gone somewhere else, which feels kind of like bailing out, but not so much that I want to stop.

So, Bryn Mawr. I went, Kimberly met me at Pem Arch, (properly called Pembroke Arch, snootily called McBride Arch if you're one of the people who insists on calling everything on campus by its Proper Given Name Chosen To Honor Those Alumn(i|ae) Who Were Important; welcome to the H. A. Easter Commemorative Web Document), and then we trotted off to Batten to cook, finding Sharon Rose happily playing in a field along the way. We said a quick hello and kept moving. Kimberly was pleased to report that she'd received notice earlier today saying she'll graduate from Bryn Mawr magna cum laude.

Lots of Battenites were hanging about the house, several in eager anticipation of culinary delights, several others busily planting gardens or cleaning the house for the summer. Kimberly and I debated some dinner plans for a little while, specifically with regard to a rice/bread/grain-type product. I suggested making naan; she immediately agreed, and that would have been fine except that we had no yogurt and insufficient time in which to make the bread. So, I hunted through Madhur Jaffrey's An Invitation To Indian Cooking and found several rice recipes. I nominated the one for Sweet Rice, since there were some people not overly fond of spicy food. It's full of piquant flavors: onions, vegetable broth, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, bay leaves. That decided, we headed to the kitchen, only to find that we had no rice. We had couscous, though, so I made it with that. Interesting--I've never cooked with couscous before, and I'm not sure I had eaten it--I'm certainly not sure I would have enjoyed it. Still, it came out beautifully, and is a new favorite. I plan to make it at home, and soon.

Kimberly made an eggplant bharta from Jaffrey's World Vegetarian Cookbook. It was quite yummy, despite her belief that it was "not as good as usual". Alas. I was pleased with it. It had, and I quote, "more ginger than God". This provoked my question: did she mean that the bharta had more ginger in it than God had, or did she mean that the bharta had more ginger in it than it had God? I got thwacked.

That line of enquiry was repeated when the brownies rolled around, and I said that they were decidedly sinful, as they had "more chocolate than God"; clearly in this case we had so much chocolate that it left no room for God. Twice as much sugar as flour, with bakers' chocolate added in. It was a happy smell in the kitchen.

Before that, I spent a while making the pyazhwale sookhe aloo that was my original contribution to the meal--Indian mashed potatoes with fried onions. Very excellent, though I found that it takes roughly as long to get nine potatoes to boil and get soft as it takes to get thirteen Swatties to agree on a regular meeting time, which is to say "bloody forever". They came out really well though, and since there weren't that many of them, there were no leftovers at all.

So, we made dinner, and we ate it. A lot of other people ate it too, which was partly the point. We had Natalie and Sarah, and Emilici, Katrina and Sam, Miss Katherine Margaret Gordon the First, me, Kimberly, and various others as well. I've probably forgotten someone; bad me. Anyway, they praised our cooking skills, and rightly so: we were good. Food tastes better when you care about it and have fun making it.

Batten Dinner: 17 May 2001
Pyazhwale sookhe aloo Recipe from Hollis. Cooked largely by Hollis, with help from Kimberly with peeling and mashing potatoes.
Eggplant bharta Recipe from Kimberly. Cooked largely by Kimberly, with help from Hollis with chopping onions and tomatoes.
Sweet Ricecous Recipe from Hollis. Cooked by Hollis. Sampled by all. Saved by Kimberly's suggestion of couscous rather than the rice we didn't have.
Brownies Recipe from Hollis. Cooked by Kimberly, Natalie, and Sarah, who were lots of fun to watch. They did them really well, which led to interesting smells when the brownies were being made next to the couscous.
Hot fudge sauce Recipe from the chocolate box. Made by Hollis; jazzed up with extra vanilla and some corn syrup to make it harden better.

We served the brownies topped with Breyer's vanilla ice cream and the hot fudge sauce. It was a very happy thing. People really appreciated us then. We sort of sat around letting the sugar put us to sleep. Got to give Kimberly a backrub, demonstrate my back-cracking technique on Katrina and Sarah (who now seem to believe that I've got some sort of chiropractic ability) as well as Natalie, got to goof around a lot. Found, again, the value of silence sometimes. The verb 'commune' comes to mind.

It had to end, of course. The TriCo van service runs its last van of the evening at 10:40, from Haverford. I interpreted from the van schedule that it stopped at Bryn Mawr before departing; I was wrong. There's a BiCo bus that took me to Haverford, where I caught the shuttle.

I found a weird sort of desire for integrity wrestling with itself inside my head. I knew how long it took to walk to campus from Batten House, I knew that I had standing invitations to crash in various places there, and I didn't want my fun time to end. How convenient it would be for me to have missed the last shuttle, and thus not have to return to Swat, and have the double benefit of not having to take responsibility!

Unfortunately, it would have been a lie, and I think I knew that. As I put it, I would have been very pleased indeed to have missed the last shuttle, but I wouldn't have felt okay about it unless I'd made a good-faith effort to be on the shuttle, which meant getting my stuff and trucking up to campus. And, alas, this time the shuttle actually came, and I spent a short ride back to Swat wondering about too many things.

I've found that I enjoy not having to worry about work, about the things still left undone, about the homework that's just never over. A long time ago, when I was having recurrent nightmares, my parents tried to teach me a technique of envisioning a protective bubble, something that can expand or contract and handle anything bad that might come along, while letting good things through. Years later, in teaching myself self-hypnosis, I found the same exercise as a type of hypnotic suggestion. Anyway. It seems like Bryn Mawr, and the people there, has been playing the role of my bubble--I go there and get to leave the rest of the world at the door. It's funny--there are a few times this year I've felt like I'm doing what College Students Ought To Do, and all of them have been when I've consciously ignored work and spent time with my friends. I know that work is important, too, but it doesn't have the same feeling to it.

So, the issue. I like the idea of not having to take work home with me. That won't happen if I'm in academia for another 9 years as a student. I like the feeling of being a Real Person (tm)--is that one of the things that has to go if you want to go to grad school? It sometimes seems that way.

Natalie and Teresa and Sarah were going to watch a movie later this evening. I wanted very much to stay and watch it with them. I guess the shuttle ride, a poor replacement, was filled in part with the end-of-the-year knowledge that it's not going to be like this again. I'm reminded of a scene from Perfect Harmony, when the choir director is telling his students about Haydn's Creation... "Here was this man, Haydn, he was opening up his soul to his god. Imagine the joy it must have brought him. Take it. Feel it. Become part of it and let it become part of you. It will never be this way again for you boys: your voices will change, your bodies will change, it will all be different. But right now, you can still be part of it--part of the joy, and the ecstasy that Haydn felt!". I wanted to be part of it for just a little longer. I've found that I don't much like Last Gasps, and this felt a little bit like one--I don't suppose I'm the only one a little terrified by impending change. It's not so much the change that bothers me--it's that wonderful people are going to disappear, people I've grown to like but haven't gotten to know. I'm not ready for them to go, and I hope they feel the same, but there's too little time to find them all to stay in touch.

So I came home, moved Jesse's desk to the middle of the room, found lights that could shine on it, sat down, and damn well finished the waltz, thank you. Tomorrow will be the fugue, but then I will be done, free to pack, play concerts for my parents, and try not to miss people before they're gone. There are times when it's hard to be one of the people who's always looking forward--endings are definitely among those times.

On the other hand, I'm going to remember today for an awfully long time, and that's not going to change. I have an invitation to come back and cook again at Batten next year, and I'll still know people there. People will come see me.

And, out of the blue, Chaos emailed me saying that she had Kira and that I should talk-request them. They're doing well--Kira's going home to Wellsville tomorrow, and wanted to say hello. Maybe there is something to the idea that somewhere, something's paying attention, and that friends fall back into your life when you need them. I rather like the idea of a benevolent universe. 4:05 now, but I feel rather more rested than I did a little while ago. Parents will come tomorrow, and with luck, everything will work out. Cheers, people.

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Wednesday May 16, 2001: Cooking, candidate, lighting, etc.

I miss Jesse; he went home today.

God. It's 3:41 am. Russian music paper is written, though--I'll look at it again in the morning.

Candidate for theory position today was quite impressive.

Lighting portfolio review went well, I think.

Cooking in Bryn Mawr tomorrow! Yay!

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Tuesday May 15, 2001

And lo, there was much coolness. Two of my classes are now complete or nearly-complete. Architecture is done--exam taken, project handed in. You can see a copy of our final project at www.cs.swarthmore.edu/~easter/architecture/CacheProject.html, where I've mirrored it from Allan Friedman's site. I think it's a decent tool we created.

Random amusing thing from Kevin Hall's IM profile: www.xs4all.nl/~rf/evil.jpg.

Folk dance meeting was productive; I like Sibelan Forrester. Candidate meeting was less cool--the candidate seems neat, but I'm not sure I trust his ability to teach groups of students yet. We'll see. He certainly had some interesting ideas.

I, however, no longer have any interesting ideas. Oh, right. Lighting projects are done; final portfolio review is tomorrow morning, and then that'll be done too.

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Monday May 14, 2001

Architecture exam was cool. Bruce let us work in groups for 45 minutes--we were given white papers for interesting technological things and told to study them. Then we came back and took individual tests based on those things. I was pleased, because I like applying what I've learned to real-world situations. I'm much happier saying why you'd want a certain kind of RAID system for a given application than I am enumerating bits in a cache tag line.

And I was proud of myself, because finally, for once in my life, I threw caution to the winds and wrote a ballsy answer to an exam question. I argued that the area of computer architecture we should spend the most money working on in the next several decades was education, and I said why. Who knows--maybe I'll lose 10 points on the question. But I chose not to take the easy, pat answer, and instead tried to think of a new solution. I was pleased.

So ends architecture--we finished the project this afternoon in the lab: Andrew fixed scripts while I annotated code and Allan wrote up our results. Douglas Adams died this week, and so he plays a prominent role in the comments of our code, as well as the random System.out.println("shite"); that we used for debugging stuff. Douglas, we salute you, and Zaphod, you too. Nearby, Nori was working on a lab, so we periodically tormented her with the geek equivalent of rubber band guns. Allan and Andrew and I went to study in Tarble Game Room--we devised a method of studying that allowed us to play pool. 5-ball, and if you want to shoot, you have to answer (correctly) a question on computer architecture that's posed by the other two players. Quite a good method, particularly because of the discussion it elicits.

The first of four music theory professor candidate lunches was today. Three more, and I'm done with them! Dr. Dave is cool, though, and I like him. I kind of hope the others won't be as cool. I hope his new baby is happy.

Folkdance meetings tomorrow, and lots of work, and breakfast with Joanna!

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Sunday May 13, 2001

You win points if you honestly understood much of what I wrote yesterday.

Dancing was good; playing with Susie was happy. The music workshop was good, though I don't really like the Huge Honkin Band phenomenon. Wore a kilt, danced a lot (got the sore feet to show for it), played highland pipes for various 'Fords and Mawrtyrs. Realized, again, how much I'm going to miss these people. Dammit. I hate it when people leave.

Got back to Swat, where I made dinner (at 10:30, having missed breakfast and proper dinner)--spaghetti. Talked to a friend about some personal things she's trying to work through. Hon, if you read this, it does get better, I promise. Sucks on the way through, gets better eventually. And, thinking back to your question about dating Kyla, no, in one sense I know very clearly when I realized it was over, and in most others I don't.

The obvious answer is "when we talked about it and decided to disinvolve ourselves". Ignore the sucky language thing--you'd think in a language with the largest vocabulary in the world, we'd have at least one non-euphemistic word for "being in a romantic-ish relationship with a person". "Dating" doesn't work, since most of us don't actually date; "involved" is not really descriptive and is rather detached; "sleeping with each other" is overly specific and just not relevant for most of us; "in love" has lots of baggage and is also not always true, and is rather poorly defined. I guess that's probably the root of the problem--we like hard and fast definitions of things.

Years of training in scientific thought have taught us to use metrics, to measure things in concrete units. It breaks down when we don't have any objectivity. Anyway. The guy from My Boot calls it "playin' smoochy", because of this sort of linguistic difficulty.

Anyway. When did I know it was over? I don't know. I look back, and I can see things that point very clearly to an ending, but I'm not the same person now as I was then. I've got a lot of late nights, half-written letters, smiles, sharing, hugs, and conversations that come between myself and last year. I don't know if I'll ever 'get over' what happened, but I don't think I really need to, anymore. I've made my peace with what happened, and I think we're friends now. There are worse things.

All of that boils down to a lot of talking, without any suggestions, criticisms, or any of that. I can't help you with those--you're probably doing a good enough job with them on your own. It won't help you to be told "try not to worry about it"--if we were the type to let go of our emotions easily, we wouldn't have had that conversation this evening.

So, since you asked for advice, what can I give you, from my infinite store of wisdom? Whatever happens, try not to be someone you don't want to be. In figuring this out, try to act in a way that squares with your own sense of what's right. Don't worry about finding the right answer; there isn't one. There are a couple of wrong answers, and a lot of possible right answers. Choose one of these, and you'll get to look back at all this later. Something will have changed. If nothing else helps, trust in the ability of people, yourself included, to cope with change. The world won't end.

And that's a heap of words again, most of them kind of pretentious, florid, unoriginal, and whatever else you (rightly) choose to call them. Hey. I'm no expert. GIGO, and all.

And, in the end, I write about the same things over and over again.

I need to get to know Morgan (Haverford '01) better. I hope I'll get the chance before she moves away forever--she should be around in the fall.

Terry's going to teach me to do highland high cuts! Yay. I will die. But it will be good. Natalie took pictures of us (me, Kimberly) waltzing today. I will have to confiscate them, since I look silly. But it's nice to be preserved, so that 30 years from now I can look back at college and say "this is how we were". Besides which, it's always good to have pictures, so your kids can say "wow, dad, you were such a dork!" Nearly all the kids I know have spent some time doing that--seems to be one of those phases people go through.

It is good to have friends. Bet you've heard that before. Still true, though. I spent some time with post-college and soon-to-be- types tonight, and I found myself wondering what it's like to be a Real Person (tm). Guess I'll find out someday. Until then, more of same. Be well, people--this week may well kill me, but at least I've got some good karma on my side.

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Saturday May 12, 2001

Tea dance walkthrough

Wrote 300-something lines of code

Am exhausted will sleep

dancy dancy play-y play-y tomorrow then more code god why is it always like this but sometimes there are good moments like cooking conversations yes yes like to cook will cook soon will be good and unstressed yesyes

cleaning the room looking out for people coddling stressed egi wondering what next happy email sad email tired of email want to go away far away want to stay here want to not be confused anymore KILT! green mountain gringo salsa on chips at 2:30 in the morning when coding always more code more code more coda java C perl perlman music notation ack so much still to do aargh but happy dancy dancy

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Friday May 11, 2001

As I sit and listen to piobaireachd...

And then I listen to John Burgess, allegedly the King of the Highland Pipers, and find I can't listen to some of the tracks on his CD because his drones are about 2 Hz sharp of where they need to be and I can't deal with the tuning. Dar. Good, I wish I had his fingers, though--the man's gracings are unreal.

Today... woo. Spent much of it in the Sun Lab, working on our cache simulation. Library shift was relatively uneventful--I signed up for fall hours, got to deal with an irate Woman who didn't want to understand that she needed to give me call numbers and not just a title if I was to pluck her selection from the shelves, and chatted with George for a bit.

Rehemped all the seals on my bagpipes, and played them for a while down by the waterfall. As usual, people stopped and came to listen. Three stopped to say hello--one older woman, and then two high school girls from Swarthmore.

Kyle and Liv (they were impressed that I guessed correctly how to spell their names) go to Strath Haven HS in Swarthmore, and were out driving when they saw me. I'd stopped playing when they arrived on foot, and they somewhat nervously caught me as I was leaving and said hello. They seem nice enough--they're both seniors this year. Kyle's headed for Thailand on an AFS program next year, thence (probably) to Harvard; Liv's going to Vassar in the fall. We talked about college, about Swarthmore, about Thailand (I mentioned the Offer-Westorts, who've done AFS Thailand even if they haven't responded to my email), about music, about bassoons, about bagpipes. I gave them a quick study in the physiognomy of bagpipes, and let them play with a reed. It was fun. They seem to have their heads on straight about next year, and I wish them luck.

Talked on the phone forever, plotted dinner, cleaned a very little bit, hung out with Katie and Laura and Eileen, made them eat chocolate raspberry, plotted the ball walk-through for tomorrow. Slept.

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Thursday May 10, 2001

I spent something like two and a half hours playing my flute today. Yay!

Susie lesson, folk dance end-of-the-year dance party, playing tunes with Will in the basement kitchen of ML. Good stuff. I played my wee bagpipes in the bell tower after the dance party--it was nice. I'm going to miss dancing.

Lots of time in the Sun Lab today fixing code with Allan and Andrew. More tomorrow.

David J. is going home tomorrow. My god! That's too early. I'm not ready for people to leave. Make it stop!

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Wednesday May 9, 2001

I can often tell how tired I am when writing journal entries by how long it takes me, when updating the archives page, to figure out that I have not in fact missed a day, and that the physical world does not imitate my bizarre numbering system for marking the days.

You see, I subscribe to the theory that it's not tomorrow until you have gone to sleep or seen the sun rise. Thus, it's still the 9th right now, even though Kimberly (and others) would say that it's been the 10th for a bit over two hours now. And thus, my difficulty--the journal entry from 'yesterday' was the 8th, which is two days less than the 10th, the number currently showing on my watch. You understand.

I have hunkered down and worked for a long time, and the CPU code is, if not finished, nearly so. It weighs in at 308 lines, for the moment.

Good conversations today. I got an engineering T-shirt, and my exam back. Mixed Company meeting was insufficiently productive for my taste, but I guess it needed to happen that way.

Oh, right, SCCS is back up, which is why you can read this. I dutifully continued writing in its absence, so that the two of you who read semiregularly would have something to do when it came back up. Many thanks go to the SCCS sysadmins, who dropped everything and fixed it when someone hacked them. You rule, guys.

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Tuesday May 8, 2001

Got up early again today, to work on striking all the lights from the dance concert. It's now late again.

Happiness is: standing on stage performing for people. Getting random flowers from a friend for that performance. Sitting in the back of the hall making off-color jokes with MoCo before the performance. Randomly deciding to perform "The Road Is Calling" (one of our rounds) to say goodbye to our seniors. Sixteen Feet singing 'Happy Trails' until only their seniors were left on stage, and then they walked off.

Happiness is: people complimenting your work in lighting design. It's also people not noticing the lighting design--if they aren't looking for it, they shouldn't see it. It's people thanking each other when they work together, and it's people getting underpaid because they love the work they're doing.

Happiness is members of several a cappella groups getting together in the bell tower after jamboree for a bell tower sing. It's jamming with Sticks and Stones on techno and Cake.

Happiness is wandering around Swat in the dark, showing it to friends and, in the process, rediscovering it for yourself. Happiness is the fragrance garden, the bell tower, the academic quadrangle with its benches and the Climbing Tree.

Happiness is a beautiful girl sleepily leaning on my shoulder while we talk about nothing much at all.

Happiness is friendship when you need it.

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Monday May 7, 2001

Not much at all today, since SCCS has gotten hacked and is therefore unavailable. Jamboree went well, I think, and Laurel and I beat down our lighting project and made it kick ass. People tell me that "Fever" (one of the pieces we lit) was particularly good.

Kyla's E90 presentation went well.

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Sunday May 6, 2001

The watch tells me it's Sunday today--I must admit that I've quite lost all concept of time.

It amuses me to notice how many of the one-line summaries of my journal entries contain something about dancing. A large number, to be sure. I guess I like dancing.

Bryn Mawr demo was lots of fun. So many good traditions at that school, and occasionally one is overtaken by the beauty of it all. I opined that the school seems to have rather a fixation on Jane Austen at times, which may be true, but still it's a beautiful place, and there's a joy that comes from dancing a gorgeous dance with good friends in the sun while a huge crowd watches and Dan plays his (properly tuned!) bagpipes. Much fun, and many people whom I will miss. Too many new faces, fondly remembered but found too late to establish much more than general friendship. Oh well--I hope some of them will stay in touch.

And then there's the lighting fiasco. Kim Arrow has earned my ire for being a jerk and for exercising bad pedagogy. Grr. And don't even call us unprofessional until you know what the profession is about.

I must sleep, because I've got to get up at 7 to go into the dance studio to fix the things from which he distracted our attention today. Grar. So much for resting.

But I earned a smile or two today, an admiring glance here and there, and a feeling of belonging. I danced with joy, if not with perfect technique, and when I erred, I smiled and kept moving. I took some time I didn't really have to help Kyla with her E90 presentation by finding pictures of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater on the web for her. But then, if you don't take care of your friends, who's left?

I hope not to find out. For the relevant folks today, thank you.

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Saturday May 5, 2001

Very quick entry, since I must get up in five hours.

I got to teach dancing today! Strathspey poussette, to a friend who needed help with it. It was great! She seemed much more comfortable with the figure after five minutes of learning it than she had previously been, and I really enjoyed the process. Another friend told me later that she'd been impressed with my teaching, which surprised me because it hadn't really occurred to me that I was teaching anything--I was just sharing something that I (nominally) knew how to do. I guess that's sort of the point, though.

Someone told me I'm on my way to becoming a really good teacher. I was pleased.

Lots of running back and forth. I've gotten to know the Saturday TriCo shuttle driver--Chris Maguire, or some similar spelling. Nice guy, who likes to talk with the people he drives. Lots of time in LPAC hanging lights.

Getting up at 6:00 a.m. to go to Bryn Mawr for May Day. Ugh! Insane!

And yet so very good.

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Friday May 4, 2001

Alfred Hurd is a saint. He loaned me a kilt (ancient Bruce, as in Robert the) that fits me rather better than Mary's kilt, as well as a proper sporran and flashes. Thus I will be dressed to the nines for May Day and the BiCo tea dance, and will be primed to make a killing among the ladies of the Branch.

Well, at least I'll look nice.

Advanced class was good tonight--a small set, but people I like, and will miss. We talked about Pinewoods, we talked about SATs, we talked about a lot of other things. I bought dance books from Cecily--my collection now includes: Pocket editions of RSCDS books VII, VIII, IX, XXIII, XXIV, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, and XXXV; pocket editions of SCD Leaflets and Five Traditional SCDs for 1965; the Delaware Valley guide to figures; the RSCDS Syllabus for Teaching Beginners; RSCDS books 30, 31, 37, 38, and 41; and TAC Notes on RSCDS Dances, 1986 edition. My library begins to grow.

I'm tired of Swat politics. 'Nuff said.

Too much rehearsal and work and work and running back and forth to Swat and Bryn Mawr this weekend, but somehow it will work out.

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Thursday May 3, 2001

So it goes.

Music 14 and Russian Music pass out of my life, at least in terms of class meetings. Lots more work for both of them, but it'll get done somehow. I gave presentations in both of them--Bach's f# minor fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier in 14, Russian church music in the latter. They both went well enough, despite moderate franticness.

And then we didn't have drill section today, so a bunch of us went to hear the Music 12 concert. Seems scary that I was in that thing a year ago. At my suggestion, we formed a row in the concert hall--Music 12 Alumni, or the Peer Review Committee, as David called us. We heard some good music, watched some interesting things happen (what happens when people sightreading a piece misplace a page?), and generally supported young composers. Go us!

I was good yesterday. I bought a pennywhistle, and gave it to Eleanor, whose whistle had broken (and it was in the wrong key, anyway). I sort of jumped at the chance to do something like this when I heard that she was interested in playing. I started playing whistle semiseriously when, on a whim, my dad bought me a little brass Walton's whistle. I carry it with me still. It is my hope that I will have, in some way, passed along the energy of that experience. At any rate, it made me feel good to do something nice for my friend.

Got the complete list of dances done last night from Carleta when she found me in the music library today. I helped her with the record players; she told me dance names and chatted a bit. The dances were: Foxhill Court, a 32S3 by John Drewry; the Falls of Rogie (32R3) by Jean Attwood; the Alder Burn (32J3), again by Drewry; the Dancing Man (32R3) by Roy Goldring; Lady McGowan's Dream (32S2) by Harry Ways; 8th Battalion Royal Scots (32R3) by Wilma Miller and found in the Allonton/Ladies of Dunse collections; and two RSCDS jigs: the Bawk and the Gilly Flower. So good.

Reasonably good Susie lesson today--I think my flute-playing is improving a little bit. Anyway, tomorrow comes.

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Wednesday May 2, 2001

Bryn Mawr class tonight, with lots of good dances, including Foxhill Court, various others, and the Falls of Rogie, which is another of my all-time favorite dances. Say what you want about Carleta, she chooses a fantastic dance program.

Mahler IV plays on the stereo as I write my presentation on Russian church music for tomorrow. Tired now, going to sleep.

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Tuesday May 1, 2001

It's been forty-four days since I missed updating--I wonder how long this will keep up. There are other parallels, but we'll ignore those for the moment.

I didn't get the internship. Sigh. I am irritated, but it will pass.

I went into Philly today for an Orchestra 2001 rehearsal, required by Russian Music. The music was pretty much not-my-style. The church was sort of nice. I read a lot of Lutheran theology while I was there. Philly is good. The department will pay for our train fare, and is offering us each $10 toward dinner. Nori and J and I went to Pietro's (after stopping at Barnes and Noble to indulge my yen for bookstores--got a copy of Programming Perl at a substantially reduced price from a clearance wall), wherein we consumed bruschetta, mellazane alla Siciliana, pizza with fresh basil, roasted garlic, goat cheese, and fabulous mozzarella (good tomatoes, too), fresh bread with olive oil (I taught them the trick of putting a wee bit of salt on--yum!), cannoli, coconut sorbet, and espresso. J ordered a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer, and true to labeling, it really does smell like cherries. Weird!

We were dorks on the train home and talked about music theory and linux the entire way. Go Swatties!

People didn't dance Blervie Castle (my new favorite strathspey) very well in class tonight, which saddened me. Oh well--one out of three ain't too bad, I guess.

And so, the summer's back up in limbo. What to do, gentle reader?

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