Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guess Where I'm Writing From!

Give up?

My Lab!



I'm currently in room 8-229 of UNBC, and I'm teaching the second experiment out of eight in the Physics 101 lab curriculum. I began writing at approximately 12:30, and won't be out of here until just before 2:30.

What am I teaching? Standing waves in a tube. Basically, we just put a speaker at the end of a long tube, connect it to a function generator to control the frequency and amplitude, and run a microphone down the tube in order to determine (a) the resonance frequencies at which standing waves form, and (b) the nodes and anti-nodes of said waves. Measuring the speed of sound fits in there as well. None of this really matters. The important thing is that you can make cool videogame and old-timey radio sounds with the speaker/function generator apparatus.

Two students just came up to me to get their data tables signed. It's a new anti-plagiarism measure. I told them that they have to re-write their data in pen before I would sign it. They were not happy, and I don't blame them.

It's cool that Christine set up a computer right at the desk. If she didn't, this blog entry would never be. I also checked my UNBC email before writing this entry, which reminded me why I so so so so so so so hate to use UNBC email.


If someone raised their hand right now I wouldn't even know it. That's a cool feeling.

More students came to get their forms signed. Here comes one now! Alright!

These labs really are exhausting. I only really "work" for half an hour during the actual period, in which I give the pre-lab lecture. This is actually the worst part of it. I've gotten a bit better at these lectures, in that I don't feel quite as horrible doing it as I used to, yet I still get the distinct impression that my students consider me a horrible horrible tool. And their right.

They're right.


A couple of students have left. Fine by me, as long as they got all their data. I figure if they really want to crap out and leave early, that's fine. If it turns out to be a mistake for them to leave, they'll pay for it in their marks. If not, why be a douche and make them stay?


I missed a seminar being given today by Dr. Shegelski, my grad supervisor. He was talking about research in molecular tunneling in which I was involved. "Involved" meaning that I was standing in the same general place that awesome research by Jeff and Hal was being done and getting paid for it all the same.

I missed it because I had to come here and do stupid prep for the stupid lab. That's the other exhausting thing about these labs. I usually come into the lab room about an hour and a half in advance to make sure that I'm really truly prepped for the experiment at hand. And even then, my preparation is still often grossly incomplete.

They're really piling on to me now. I just signed four data tables, and two are on the way.

12:55. I'm glad I had deluxe breakfast at A&W. There are many reasons for this, one involving the drive in teller girl at McDonalds. Ask my mom about that sometime.

Two students seem to be absolutely captivated by a poster of spectra for various elements. Leni just left. She thought I didn't know her, just because I acted like I didn't know her. I get nervous in these labs! Sue me.

I'm just realizing how abstract my blog labels are becoming. For this post, I've already attached labels like "Just Another Fist," "No One Can Hear You Scream,"-- two more data tables signed-- and "There Can Be Only One." Maybe I'll make up another tag of two. I'll have to give it some thought though. There's abstract and then there's just dumb.

1:03. I have no labs next week. For that, I'll attach the "Circular Celebrations" label.

I came to the lab rooms earlier in the week. The rooms that I teach in are on the second floor of the Teaching Lab building, with big windows that face toward the east. The mountains are blocked by haze today, as they often are, but when I came earlier in the week, on one of those days when it turned to biting cold, the sky was so clear that I could see the Rockys fifty or a hundred kilometers away. There weren't any students when I came in that time. If there were, I would have begun the lecture by just showing them the view, letting them soak it in for a minute or two, because they would likely never see that kind of view again.

Created new label-- "The View From Where I Am."

I've got the stupid live action Sailor Moon theme stuck in my head. I thought it might be a good idea for one of the hosts of a late night show going without writers, like Conan O'Brien or Colbert, to digitally insert themselves into episodes of the series, reciting actual dialogue from the show in really pathetic Japanese. Just imagine Conan as Mamoru-- I don't care if you don't know what I'm talking about!-- in a really big ugly Beatles wig hair cut that seems to be all the rage in Japan. Hilarious. And the best part: it's all legit! (it's Writers Guild of AMERICA. Suck it, union lawyers!)

If I started playing an episode of Sailor Moon right now, would anyone in the lab watch? Probably not.

Added label "Miyuu Sawai."

And with that, I bid you adieu.

UPDATE: Added label "Wow".

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Story

Naomi said:
Blog more you swine!
So I will.

I haven't posted in a while, partly because Christmas, partly because I'm still a little embarrassed about LOLWorf, and partly because I've spent the last month and a half roughly writing a short story. So, now that I'm getting back into the groove of school, I thought I'd put my time to its most productive possible use: showing you an excerpt of said short story.

Naomi, my mom, and Josh Sandu have all seen early drafts of the story. However, the excerpt below is something totally new, so hopefully they'll enjoy it as much as you will!

. . . :|

Just read it. And ignore the fact that one of the characters is named Josh. It means nothing.

Excerpt from "Achilles":

Josh. She met him at Pandora's Box a month before. It was a June the 16th party(the owner was of Irish descent, and considered himself a literature aficionado) but she didn't know this. She just knew that it was a party. A few people dressed in old black suits and dresses, and a couple of people went up onto the bar's small front stage, carrying thick tattered tomes with ugly covers from which they recited lines like "loth to irk in Horne's hall hat holding the seeker stood." But like Megan, most were there just to be there, for fun, and would have been there no matter whose day it was.

But Josh?

"Vain patience to heap and hoard," he said. "Time would surely scatter all. A hoard heaped by the roadside plundered passed-- uh, passing on. Sorry. Uh, their eyes knew years-- knew the years wandering and patient knew the dishonours of the flesh."

He would glance up from his book every moment or so, trying to catch brief sight of the tall limping girl at the bar.

"Who has not? Stephen said. Whaddaya mean? Deasy asked. He came forward a pace and stood by the table. His underjaw fell sideways open uncertainty-- uh, uncertainly. Fuck. Uh. . ."

Few noticed him fumble, and those who did didn't care to react.

"Is the old isdom-- uh, wisdom. . . Is this old wisdom? He want to hear from me." And with dramatic pause, he came to the part he had been waiting to speak.

"History," Josh said, "is a nightmare from which I'm trying to awake."

He finished his set quickly and unceremoniously, stepping down and going toward the bar and its limping girl, Megan.

"The rusty boot," he said.

Megan turned to Josh, who was looking at her foot.

"What?" she said.

"I said, the rusty boot. It's okay. Don't worry about it."

"Were you just up there?"

"Yeah. I'm Josh."


She shook his hand. Her friends had left her sitting at the bar, and though wary, she welcomed his company.

"I never caught what everyone was reading," Megan said.

"This," Josh said, holding up his book. "Ulysses. Best book ever written. It all takes place on the sixteenth of June, so every year people get together to celebrate it."

"Do you go to university?"


"English major?"

"No. Business."

They continued to talk. No-one bothered to go offstage after Josh's recital, and even those in costume had partly disrobed, abandoning the act. Megan had eaten earlier that evening, but she was getting hungry again, so the two ordered meals and took a seat at a nearby table.

"So you're a runner?" Josh said.

"Yeah. Well, track and field in general."

"My brother was into sports. Competing, I mean. I hope you don't mind me asking , but was it a sports injury that gave you than limp?"

"Oh, this? No. Well, not really. It was a javelin, actually. I was at a practice, this was in spring, and a javelin flew right into my heel. It severed the tendon, and I had to get surgery to fix it."

"So it was a sports injury."

"No. If someone from the other team threw it, it would be a sports injury. This was just bad luck."

"Look, Megan, you're at a Bloomsday party. This is the wrong place to be arguing semantics," he said with a chuckle.

Their food arrived at the table. Megan ordered fried, and Josh ordered vegetarian lasagna. They were finished quickly, and just as quickly ordered drinks to wash the taste out of their mouths. They talked about insignificant things, long enough for Megan's friends to return and wish her goodnight, and for Josh's friends to return and join the two. During her conversation about being a runner, she was reminded of something she thought would be a good story. She had been running since before she could remember. Her mother had told her that when she, Megan, was little, she had no fear of going anywhere on those little legs, which her mother called Megan's "Arnold Schwartzenegger Legs." That was the story. She wanted to tell it to Josh, but didn't. She didn't tell it anyone, partly because she didn't remember until the wrong moments, but also because she never felt it appropriate to do so. As the night wore on and he talked with his friends, she felt a dull sort of regret over not telling him, and waited for another chance.

"You know it was based of a Greek legend, right?" Josh said. "The Odyssey, right? But where's the odyssey here? Where's the adventure? Like, what I mean is, you know, every adventure, every adventure was exotic, every adventure, like, it was a new land with something wondrous, something you've never seen. Like magic, gods, whirlpools, you know, monsters. Right? But here's this book with a guy buying a fucking. . . bar of soap, right?"

Josh laughed at his own words. His friend joined him.

"So where's the adventure? he said, and then with a deep, sudden seriousness in his voice, "Style. Style! That's the key. You can't have adventure in Dublin, I mean that's why he left!You can;t do it. You have to internalize the adventure. That's what it's all about. Stream of consciousness, the adventure within. The sexual adventure, man, everything. And he always does it in a different way, a new island. That's what the adventure really was, you know, that's all you could have."

"Tell that to Hemingway," one of his friends said, to which everyone chuckled.

Josh had an angular face which he always wore with a subtle half-smirk. As the night went on, Megan found his smirk more and more appealing, and when the bar fianlly closed she still wanted to be with him. So, after all of Josh's friends said their goodbyes, she was still beside him, limping along as he walked out the door.

"Well, Megan," Josh said once they were both outside, "it was a pleasure."

"You're not saying goodbye, are you? Leaving me all alone on cold Pandora avenue?"

He looked toward a streetsign.

"So that's why they named it Pandora's Box. I never put that together."

She laughed at Josh, and they both went along the sidewalk, south from Pandora Avenue toward the ocean but still far enough from it not to see it. He noticed Megan's limp again.

"Javelin, huh?" he asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah." he said.

"Should you be walking?"

"Hasn't hurt me so far."

"Well, your limp begs to differ."

"It was a lot worse before," she said. "Don't worry, I'm a big girl."

Josh heart beat a little faster after hearing that. He pretended not to know why.

"You know, I can take you home, if you really are worried about being alone. You should see my ride. It's the lasted, imported, German bus pass."

Megan chuckled at that. Josh was pleased.

"But seriously," he said. "Just say the word."

"No. I'm not going home. Not yet."

"Why not?"

She realized she missed another opportunity to tell the Arnold Schwartzenegger Legs story again. It didn't worry her as much this time. She would find her opportunity. She start with that and maybe begin a whole list of stories with a running theme, like how she ran circles around the bored kids forced to attend her mother funeral when she was six years old, or how is was more of the same when her father remarried two years later, and maybe then she'd tell him about the ruckus she raised in the halls of Royal Jubilee while her sister, Helen, was being born.

"I don't live on my own," she said. "My dad lives with me, and he's been kind of unbearable recently."

Maybe its not a genetic thing, she thought, about the running. After all, Helen's mother had no relation to Megan whatsoever, and she ran all the way to Ontario, with Helen right behind her.

"He's going, I mean, we're both going through a rough time right now. My stepmon left him a couple of months ago with my half-sister. Took her to, uh, London. Yeah, London, Ontario. I always wanna say Paris, but it's London."

Josh slowly came to a halt. Megan didn't really notice this as she was talking.

"He's sick too. Diabetic. He's been diabetic since before I was born, but it's gotten worse. he's just. . . well, anyway."

She finally notice that she wasn;t limping anymore.

"End of the line," Josh said, pointing to the apratment building nearby.

"You live here?" Megan said. "That's convinient."

"Well, I guess I'll just. . ." he paused long enough so as not to give himself away. "Do you want to come in?"

It had been since the night before, when she walked out on her father engulfed in one of his moods, that she had been out of her house. The idea of rest sent a wave of warm fatique through her, as if in preparation. She knew what was coming, of course, she wasn't stupid. But she didn't mind it. She figured it was about time.

"Yes. I'd like that," she said.

With that, she followed him into the building.

And you, Peter, she thought with the corn thawing under her ankle, wouldn't you like to know what Josh did to me?


So there you are! It still needs work, and in its final form this part of the story will certainly be very different, but its a start. I think the biggest change that needs to be made is when Josh is talking Ulysses to his friends. I'll either scrap that or heavily modify it. But there will be little changes all over as well.

It'll probably be a long time before its ready to be published. If you're interested, I'll let everyone know how its progressing.
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