Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.

-- Niels Bohr

A Small Succession of Amusing Events in My School Year So Far

Based on what I have encountered in Geography so far, I am not worried about that class. Today, the concept of latitude and longitude were explained to us. Since I sit in the front row (perhaps I need to kick that bad habit), I tried not to look bored out of my mind. Sorry, Dr. Mikey!

There are, again, many signs telling us to, "Go Greek!" What I find more amusing is the fact that there are little buttons that say the same thing. An attempt was made to carry the theme a bit further and so they used Greek letters for some of the words. However, they did not use the proper Greek letters for the English ones, so for anyone who knows what the Greek letters actually stand for, it turned out a bit silly. Two sigma's stood for capital E's, presumably because of the superficial similarity. However, sigma is an s, not an e. K at least works, since kappa is still k. The letter G is, I think, unknown to Greek. Their gamma looks like L but with the horizontal line on top instead of at the bottom.
Oh, and did I mention that, after this heroic effort to Hellenize their buttons, someone apparently forgot that 'Greek' has an r? Unless, of course, they all want us to, 'Go GEEK!', which may be the case, for all I know...

Also, I know now it is possible to go from Wesleyan to the communications building in three minutes. I know this because I ran the whole way Monday. Not fun. From the teacher's observation, I thought I had eleven minutes. As I walked down the hallway, I pulled out my phone and saw that I had five minutes. Cue immediate panic. I raced down the stairs, nearly knocking over a few unfortunate souls at the bottom, and literally ran across campus. I had no dignity left to lose by that point, so I pelted across the bridge/overpass/whatever it is officially called, dodging people left and right. I had to swerve around the right of the Guillot, dodge cars in the parking lot, and race into the com building before Mrs. Harden started. I made it with two minutes to spare- very much out of breath, my throat burning from the Formeldahyde smell the office in Wesleyan had reeked of (seriously, what was that smell? I have a horrible sense of smell, and I could still smell it! Formeldahyde has no place in Wesleyan!). But I made it. I was a little pleased with myself.

The people I nearly paved to the ground may have a different story to tell, however...

GAH I HAVE TO GIVE A SPEECH WEDNESDAY OR FRIDAY ABOUT MYSELF. The only thing I can think of for an attention-getting opening, since I would totally flub any attempt at humor, is to quote something no one has heard of before, go off on a philosophical tangent, apologize, and yank myself back into blabbing meaninglessly. I think I shall go the 'describe three characteristics of yourself' route. Which three? Perhaps I could elaborate on my confession that I am a Grammar Nazi. I could state that I love reading and ask the class who else loves LOTR. I could state that I like to write and have written several of my own novels, which are never definitively finished since I keep updating and changing them. I could explain how I live on a farm.
I'm not good with analyzing my own personality. I could say that I am socially awkward. That would probably not need many examples. I could say that I don't like to complain (which is true, even though my habit of stating things rather baldly may sound like complaining to those who don't know me). I'm not very patient with stupidity. I am a bit of a perfectionist and a procrastinator when I let myself get away with it. I would like to think that I am trustworthy and hard-working, but I maintain that that is for other people to decide. Just the thought of coming out and saying, "I'm a good friend, I'm trustworthy, etc.," in a speech sounds a bit arrogant to me.
I am usually in a good mood. This may sound odd, since I am a bit grumpy when I wake up and I am susceptible to panic and worry attacks as anyone else, but I am usually prepared to be amused by things. I still say, "Good morning," to the bus drivers each day and have a habit of thinking lots of happy thoughts. (Or, at least, a habit of thinking about my stories, which I like doing, and so it makes me happy.) However, I would not classify myself as an optimistic person. I tend to be a bit more realistic, I think. For instance, if someone complains about the weather, I am likely to point out how much worse it could be. I was told that this made me an optimist, you know, that I subscribed the view that, "Hey, it's not as bad as it could be, so this is great!" My thinking is more along the lines of, "I don't think this situation standing in the rain here is great, either, but it could be a lot worse and the sky could decide to dump hail on us at any moment, so I'm keeping my mouth shut."
I am not a cruel person. I am not very good at holding grudges. A lot of the times, I forget offenses soon after. Samuel may have been annoying me all day, but in the evening when I am reporting his infractions to dad I have usually forgotten half of them. I don't like getting angry (I'm usually just irritated) and I never really want to cause harm to someone.

But how do you condense even part of this into a 2-4 minute speech? What I've typed is a jumbled mess. How do you pick out three adjectives out of it and develop on them? I should probably stick to telling the class about some things I like and don't like. Hey, even your likes and dislikes can say something about yourself... if people are so inclined as to dig a little deeper and think about things. Which not everyone wants to do. There seems to be a conspiracy against thinking these days.

In Pace Christi,


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Because of impatience, we were driven out of Paradise; because of impatience, we cannot return.

-- W. H. Auden

Ways In Which I Defy Modern Society

I do not really know why I am posting this, other than that I think it's funny. You will find that I do a lot of things because I think they're funny. I'm funny that way.

1. I absolutely do not own anything made by Aeropostale. The world has not yet come to an end so I shall probably get away with this.

2. I refuse to abbreviate anything while texting. I spell out every single word and use proper punctuation and grammar. If I find that I have sent someone a text with a spelling error, I usually follow it up with an apology bemoaning the fact that my fingers are too big for my tiny keyboard, and insisting that phones are stupid.

3. I have never been ashamed of being seen with my parents in public.

4. If something is currently the fashion, I usually loathe it. This does not mean I will not like it several years down the road when it has fallen so far out of favor it is now deemed stupid, nor does it mean that I have not liked it previous and then it became fashionable. Examples of the former: Pokemon (though I have largely abandoned that now), Princess Tutu (I am also not at all ashamed of this fact) and Yu-Gi-Oh. Examples of the latter: Percy Jackson, Ranger's Apprentice (hopefully), Guardians of Ga'Hoole.

5. I have not read The Hunger Games. I do not plan to. Cue immense and immediate effort on my friends' part to make me read it, just like they tried with Twilight.

6. I do not swear. Ever. If you do so in my presence, you shall likely receive either a pitiful look pleading for cleaner air or a death glare. Take your pick. You likely have your back turned and can't see me anyway. *grumbles about kids these days and their foul mouths*

7. My life is not ruled by my phone. I can safely leave it on throughout all my classes and my teachesr shall never be the wiser since it is set on vibrate (I can't really remember what my ringtone actually is... I think it's 'Ode to Joy'). If it does vibrate on me, I never answer it. I just kind of jerk and have a weird expression because it's scared me half to death, but that's all. I text so little that when I do receive a text message it surprises me, unless I am already in a text conversation with somebody, and then I'll be expecting it. But I will not be in a text conversation with somebody while I am in class.
Actually, when I get home, I leave my phone on my dresser and pretty much forget about it until the next day. My life is very peaceful and uncomplicated. :)

8. I am not ashamed of having good morals. I am ashamed of everyone who loves to discuss rude, crude and fast-becoming-socially-acceptable topics anywhere and at any time, regardless of whether or not I am in their presence and/or hearing range. Yes, I am the one sitting over there with a pained expression, probably blushing and mentally repeating the Divine Praises in order to atone for whatever you just said. Because you probably just broke the Second Commandment (and I'm Catholic, so that means no taking God's name in vain).

9. I apparently emit some sort of anti-people aura and this does not disturb me as much as it should. I am not overly concerned by my relative lack of followers on this blog because I do not need two thousand followers on my Facebook page to feel like I belong.

10. On that subject, I neither have a Facebook page nor am I on Twitter. I told you, my life is blissfully uncomplicated.

11. If I had a Twitter account, I would be constantly at odds with the system because I would constantly insist on using proper grammar and spelling, which would push me over the 140 character limit.

12. I read philosophy. For fun. My political theory is distributism, and I can use terms like 'psychosomatic unity' and 'the ontological argument for the existence of God' without blinking.

13. I love big words and capital letters. Modern society likes to chop the ends of words and squish them together, resulting in words such as blog, vlog, etc. Modern society also likes to decapitate words. Go find a newspaper and pull out the ads. If you can find one of them that is not written in all lowercase letters or all caps, congratulations. Then calculate the percentage of ads that are lowercase or all caps to those that employ proper letters.

14. I love archaic words. Mrs. Raney mentioned something today about an alternate meaning for 'shiver'. My first thought was 'shiver', meaning as in to split something or destroy it. My mind flicked to a passage in the Lord of the Rings which speaks of Theoden's spear being shivered and he casts it aside when he slays the standard-bearer of some enemy cavalry at the Pelennor Fields. I know that divers is a different word from diverse, not merely a misspelling. I tried to use it on my ACT essay. Mom talked me out of this.

15. I have proven that one does not need to be old to be eccentric, and I am proud of this dinstinction. Most people want to fit in with society. Therefore, they feel the need to act rebellious, dye their hair black and cut it short and spiky, and in general conform to nonconformity. This cracks me up. If I didn't have my sense of humor, it would be hard being a sane person in an insane world. And I say this without the slightest bit of arrogance. It's my blog (and you are welcome to hurl digital flames at me if you disagree with me) and it has become more of a personal commentary on a bit of everything than merely an account of my adventures and misadventures here at UNA.

In Pace Christi,


First and Second Day of School, Version 2.0

Once again, I fail at coming up with witty titles for my blog. However, I regularly lampshade my failures, so does that count for something?

Yesterday and today have been a really weird mixture of familiarity and strangeness, friends and strangers. Yesterday morning, mercifully NOT at 7:20, I got on a shuttle at Darby and was delighted to see that the bus driver was someone I knew. In my mind I call him the smiley old guy, since I have absolutely no idea what his proper name is, and I am not the sort to just come out and ask people personal questions about the past or even, "What's your name?" (Actually, I did do that one time. Dr. Bibbee told us to introduce ourselves to a random stranger for homework. I tried this. The other girl did not ever really talk to me again, even though we had like two classes together...)
My opinion is that the smiley old guy looks like he could be a Ray or a Raymond. I don't know why. That's just my crazy opinion. However, the black lady who drives the "express" shuttle may be Melissa. The drivers all know me, though- at least, the three drivers who go to Darby. The veteran guy (he wears a hat that says Vietnam Veteran, if memory serves me), who is always so sweet and talkative, asked me how my second day went today.

Anyway, it was the smiley old guy who picked me up in the morning yesterday. No one else was in the parking lot at that time, so we had a small chat about the number of freshmen having to park out there, their terrible parking skills or complete lack thereof (one Einstein decided to park in the AISLE between the lines, whereupon people parked all around him, fencing him in. It was probably an accident, made by a clueless freshman whom I should sympathize with, but, hey, even I know not to do that), and the fact that many of them chose to park in Fiesta Mexicana's space. Even I knew not to do that. Sure enough, the UNA Police Chief sent out an email today asking everyone not to park there. Now if only they would erect some sort of awning at the spot where we wait on the shuttles because sooner or later it will rain...

Eventually, a few other kids did get on the shuttle yesterday, and I found myself in the incongruous position of having to comfort a few freshman girls. No, they did not have to bring their books the first day, and no, they did not get extra points for getting their books.

I think I'll like geography. I didn't know Wesleyan had an auditorium (now I do). I was expecting speech to be in an auditorium and geography in a smaller classroom, but my prediction was inverted. I have Dr. Pretes for geography and I cannot pronounce his last name. So I think I'll start calling him Dr. Mikey in my mind. He only kept us for 15 min to read the syllabus, so he has my total approval for that. He promises to have entertaining mannerisms that will make him my 'funny professor'. The last two semesters I had a teacher who was hilarious, either intentionally (Dr. Bibbee- he admitted to trying to find a niche as the 'funny professor') or unintentionally (Dr. Gren, due to his status as the 'absent-minded professor'), and I do hope I have someone this semester to fill that role.
At any rate, Dr. Mikey stated that he takes off points for texting in class. Not surprising. He says he will not say that he sees someone texting but that he will mark it down and deduct points. He proceeded to say: "You should be able to spend 50 minutes of your life without your phone. Hopefully, you should be able to. If you can't, you probably need counseling." He also added that he always plays music from the appropriate geographical region at the beginning of class, and that if we didn't like the music, well, tough. Coming on the heels of the counseling comment, I nearly cracked up. I am always prepared to be amused by my professors (I am easily amused in some respects). However I am sitting in the front row again (I don't know why I do that... I think it is in order to minimize the distractions) which may not be a great idea because then the professor will wonder why I always have a goofy grin on my face...

Apologies, people who loiter in the Lafayette lobby! I have returned to the piano and you shall not be able to tear me away from it until the end of the semester... Mwahahahahaha....
On that note, however (note- haha, geddit? Oh, I am so punny), someone in the honors program seems to like my music. I was calmly playing Fuer Elise when a dude run up to me and asked if I could play anything by Elton John. Upon my puzzled negative, he wandered off. However, when I started playing Linus and Lucy, he returned and began doing the Peanuts dances right there in the lobby- the Shermy dance, the Pigpen dance, you name it. Go watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special if you have no idea what I am talking about. Today, I encountered him again, and he proceeded to start singing 'Take My Breath Away' from Top Gun. ????
I proceeded to play Bless the Broken Road, Sweet Home Alabama (which, unbelieveably, no one reacted to) and various LOTR songs. Later, when I was done, a black guy came up to me and said he heard me playing "that Rascal Flatts song" from apparently the next floor up and that it made him cry. He was still wiping his eyes. Well, thank you... I have never had someone have that much of an emotional response to my playing before... It kind of surprised me...

I don't know about speech. It was the one class I wasn't really looking forward to, honestly. My first impression was not helped by the fact that the com building is laid out really weird and I could not find the classroom at first. Luckily, I was with Marcela who was equally lost, and she had the sense to ask somebody. I might have done something very much like a dude and not asked for directions had she not been there. Anyway, it turned out to be just around the corner.
The teacher, whose name I finally remember (Laura Hardin), seems to really want us to discuss politics in class. When she broached the subject, a pall of deep silence settled across the class. Everyone was already quiet, listening to her talk (she kept us the entire 50 minutes! And she didn't even have a syllabus she was going through! This is totally unfair! We are contractually obliged to be kept only half an hour or less on the first day! Outrages!), but when she mentioned politics, the gloom in the room became almost palpable. A couple of guys tried to steer the politics towards less partisan issues that would hopefully not turn a calm, reasonable discussion into an argument, a laudable goal, but I really don't think it'll work ultimately. She made some spiel about the classroom being a safe environment, but I just don't know... In the words of every single Jedi ever, I have a bad feeling about this.

Today started off with me panicking about my classroom in Raburn. I walked in, wasn't sure it was the right place or if I had come too early or too late, walked right back out, checked the room number on my schedule and the time, decided it had to be right, and walked back in. The teacher looks like he could be amusing under the right circumstances. However, we are going to be left to our own devices to design a poster for next year's Handy Festival. Oh, joy. To add to this, during the class a backhoe was ripping up PVC pipe RIGHT NEXT to the windows. I swear, the weighted end of the backhoe was no more than two feet from the window. I was sitting on the end of a row next to the windows, so I was becoming a little concerned...

Literature shows more promise. I know the names of more than two people in it. I know the names of three. At least there's Marcela to talk to. And WE GET TO DO BEOWULF! When Mrs. Raney mentioned Beowulf, a similar palpable gloom settled over the class- in stark contrast to me. I have a pretty good idea that my face lit up. Just for that day, I will totally bring my own copy of Beowulf, which has the Old English original in it as well as a modern translation. I will gladly declaim the opening line of the poem to anyone who asks. It might be wise not to ask.

I am currently gleefully watching musical tributes to Yu-Gi-Oh's Dark Magician (I am not at all ashamed of this fact) in an attempt to soothe a headache accumulated from various frustrations throughout the day. This effort will, most likely, not help at all, but it's still fun and so I am idiotically doing it. This is me. Shouls you be expecting anything else?

In Pace Christi,


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lord, give me a sense of humor, and I will find happiness in life and profit for others.

-- Saint Thomas More

This Constitutes A Blog Milestone, Right?

This is my 150th post. Yay me! As we just cooked s'mores over a tiny little fire outside our new (well, sort of new- it's in the process of being built and we just got the roof and ceiling in) milking parlor/chicken house, I consider myself as having celebrated this milestone. Do I get a tiny little cyber award or something?

GAH, I cannot BELIEVE school starts Wednesday!!! It's like, where did the summer go??? It has me in near panic-mode trying to work on my stories. The bad thing about my stories is that they are by now so complex and involved and intertwined and I have so many back-up files explaining them and stuff in my worlds that when I change one thing I have to go digging through a dozen other files to change it everywhere. Not the most entertaining of tasks. However, it concerns my stories and so I do not care. No one minds work when it concerns what they care about, right?

If you really want to know, I was streamlining my nomenclature. I was also pondering the philosophical underpinnings of my world (yes, I actually try to ensure that my world makes philosophical sense. I'm just that sad) and considering deep questions such as what my centaurs (yes, my world has centaurs) have in common with the centaurs of various mythologies and modern fantasies, including Rick Riordan's Party Ponies and C. S. Lewis's centaurs. (We watched Prince Caspian last night. I don't agree with plenty of Narnia stuff [LOTR is just so much better!] but if there is one thing C. S. Lewis excelled at, and which the movies picked up on, is that his centaurs are truly awe-inspiring. However, as far as nomenclature goes, C. S. Lewis fell far short of Tolkien's brilliance. Some of Lewis's names were good, some were so-so, plenty stinked, but only three made me go, "Wow." They were: Tarva, Sulva, and Lurga. Interestingly, two were names of planets and one of a star. Bonus points if you know which ones.)
My search for English names for my creatures has also led me to looking up obsolete English terminology for changelings and to Google the names of supposed swamp beasts in Louisiana. You just never know with me...

This week we were on vacation! I supposed I could have blogged while we were there. However, the Wi-Fi hated me and it refused to work for several days, so... meh. I waited. And now I have tons of stuff to talk about! Oh, dear. This post is probably going to be quite long.

Saturday was mostly driving. Not much to talk about there, save that Peter and Samuel sat in the back of the car and read a steady diet of comic books, mostly Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. Peter and Samuel have started to take Garfield, Calvin, and the Three Stooges for role models, I am sad to say. This is obviously not a good thing for the rest of the household, us poor unfortunate souls, who have to endure endless recitations of every single Three Stooges episode ever.

I drove pretty much all the way to Scottsboro, Elaine took over until almost Chattanooga, and dad drove the rest. We went to the Smokies, by the way.

Sunday, we hiked to Laurel Falls. It was not a bad hike; the slope was gentle and it was paved all the way up. People were actually pushing strollers and wheelchairs up the incline. Wow. There were signs posted warning people about the slick rocks and telling them to keep off the waterfall, but of course no one listens.

     Monday we went to Dollywood! Peter and I had vowed to ride all the upside-down roller coasters, and we stuck true to our promise!!! The first thing we did was ride the wooden roller coaster, Thunderhead. In retrospect that was not a great idea because it was (1) a wooden roller coaster, which meant that although it did not go upside down it jerked you around a lot and (2) it's a pretty intense one, seeing as how it won Best Wooden Roller Coaster or something like that in 2005 and 2006. I loved it, after I got over the first initial, "Oh, my," moment when we got to the top of the lift hill (the tall, initial hill with the chains that provides the momentum for the rest of the track) and I had the split-second thought, "Where did the rest of the track go?" Cue massive drop.
     Anyway, mom and Elaine came away queasy and with headaches, so they ended up staying behind on benches and taking pictures from safe distances for the next hour or so. Peter and I, undaunted, rode Thunderhead AGAIN. Most of the roller coasters now have cameras and when you get off you can see your picture (and buy it for an exorbitant $15). Elaine's eyes were closed. She admitted that she doesn't look the whole time. Peter had a hilariously terrified expression the first go around, while my mouth was open since every time he squealed with fear I just laughed harder.
     Next we went to the Mystery Mine. Cliche name, I know. Peter and I decided to call it, "the Mines of Moria," instead. It was the one I did NOT go on the last time we were at Dollywood and which I regretted. So it (and the Wild Eagle, but I'm getting there) was the ride I had NOT been on before. There were seven cars, not hooked up together in a train but by themselves, each with two rows of four seats each. The attendants were separating people into groups in the line and loading them on in a hurry, trying to keep the ride going. Dad, Peter, and I and some lady got in one car. There was an initial drop just to give you a taste of what was coming, and then it shot up, went around the curve in the dark (80% of the ride was indoors) with glowing red lights to imply evil bats watching us, and then the car tilted up and stopped. We were faced with a vertical hill going straight up to a waterwheell under the sky. I had NOT expected straight up and down! We got up to the top and went straight down, whirled through the darkness some more, and briefly shot out of the building, twisted, and went back in. Some of the decor in the queue line stated that miners consider birds bad luck. Naturally, there were stuffed ravens/crows (couldn't tell the different) scattered strategically throughout the ride, and there was an animatronic talking vulture outside the ride building. Anyway, as our car emerged from the building the first time, a really stupid pigeon flew across right in front of us. That would have been REALLY nasty if we had hit it. Fortunately, we did not. So we shot back in the building, whirled around some more, and came to another stop at the bottom of ANOTHER straight incline. There was a TV screen at the top of this one, showing a stormy sky with lightning and a wooden structure crashing down on us. Yikes! We cranked up to the top of the incline, stopped, and were greeted by real flamethrowers. REAL FLAMETHROWERS. We could feel the heat. I actually yelled, "I wasn't expecting real pyrotechnics!" as we zipped straight down. (Yes, I am so nerdy I used the word pyrotechnics while being jerked about by a scary roller coaster.) We emerged from the building again, UPSIDE DOWN, and remained that way for several seconds until we righted and zoomed back to the station.
    It was fun, though.
    After that we went on the new ride at Dollywood, the Wild Eagle. It is America's first wing coaster. No, Dollywood does not pay me to advertise their rides; I'm gushing of my own free will. No monetary compensation or kickback of any sort. Anyway, the deal with wing coasters is that there is NOTHING under you. The main part of the car is over the track, and it has limbs that stretch out on either side, to which the chairs and harnesses are attached, so that you are DANGLING over nothing. The cars were shaped like eagles, and the wings were the limbs holding the chairs. It had a VERY impressive lift hill and proceeded to drop 13 stories at 61 mph, zooming through four inversions and a couple of near-misses with nearby pine trees. It was a long track, but at those speeds one train is back at the station before the other takes off. (Oh, I'm so punny.) I LOVED it. The ride was so smooth, no jerking at all. The first time I rode it, I just couldn't make any noise. It was that amazing. It was like one of the dreams I sometimes have about being able to fly (admit it, everyone has those dreams) had come to life. I just gaped in pure awe and enjoyed the feeling of wheeling through the sky. It was that wonderful. I was so happy that later as we were leaving the park we came back by that way again and rode it again. I proceeded to get a T-shirt with the ride on it. Yes, I rode the Wild Eagle and all I got was a lousy T-shirt. Haha, no, the shirt is actually great. Peter got one as well, a different one that has an eagle with its claws and it reads, "Go Ahead And SCREAM." Mine is black with an eagle and an outline of the ride. -- Oh, and at the entrance to the ride there is a four-ton eagle sculpture. We got a picture next to it. Whenever mom uploads the camera pictures to the computer, I'll have to get a hold of some of the pictures and post them to my blog. I haven't put any new pictures on here in forever and I could use a few more. Also, at the beginning of the queue was a wooden sign that read, "THEY SHALL SOAR ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES," and even listed the source of the quote: Isaiah 40:31. (I think.) EPIC WIN!
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, and later we went on the Tennesse Tornado, which goes 70 mph but is jerkier. After the Wild Eagle, it just wasn't the same.
    You could tell the Wild Eagle was a new ride. There were lights on the cars to indicate things about its mechanisms and if the restraints were properly fastened, etc. I am pretty sure the ride had its own COMPUTER ROOM. Hey, it worked- the ride was amazing, the decor was beautiful, the music that played in the queue line was awe-inspiring... and the view was great.
    We also went on all the typical park rides, like the swings, the sky ride, the scrambler, the frisbee of doom (as we called it). The Frisbee of Doom, actually the Dizzy Disk but I prefer my name for it, consisted of a spinning saucer that went up and down, while spinning mind you, on a semicircular track. Elaine of course refused to go on it again so Dad, Peter, Samuel (I think) and me went on it. Before us there was this Asian kid who got on. He was listening to his iPod the ENTIRE TIME and was waving his arms and nodding his head and generally jamming to his music while being spun around and around and up and down on the Frisbee of Doom. He was quite entertaining.
Enough about Dollywood. On Tuesday it was rainy, so mom and dad went out to the outlet stores looking, as mom always does, for kitchen stuff. We went to Mass for the vigil of the Assumption that night at Holy Cross in Pigeon Forge. We went there several years ago and my impression had been that it really did look like the former Protestant church it was. My impression this time was much more favorable, aided, no doubt, by the gigantic gorgeous crucifix hanging over the tabernacle. Gigantic gorgeous crucifixes always improve my opinion of a church (Our Lady of the Valley in Birmingham also went up in my books on gaining a similar crucifix).
   The music was... okay; it was just really fast, confusing, and a lot more contemporary-sounding than St. Michael's very traditional liturgical melodies. And whoever was singing had no idea how to count. I'm sorry, but really. A whole note has 4 beats, a half note 2, and a quarter note 1, at least in 4/4 time. Is it that HARD?
    Oh, and the other thing that bothered me... there were two women acting as altar servers. Not so terrible in and of itself. THEY WERE WEARING SURPLICES. That's a big no-no. Women and girls do NOT wear surplices. They can wear albs. Here at St. Michael's the altar servers wear albs, which is right and good. They used to wear surplices when it was just boys doing all the altar serving. The only time we see a surplice out here now is when David Locker assists at important Masses (think Holy Week) and directs all the altar serves and everthing. A surplice, for those of you less well liturgically informed, consists of a long black garment with a shorter white garment, usually edged with lace or something like that, over it. Women are not supposed to wear it and those two were. Grr.
    The priest was foreign so it was kind of hard to understand him, but his theology appeared to be orthodox. I'll forgive his occasional wordings that seemed slightly less orthodox since I highly doubt English is his native language.

Wednesday... groan... Wednesday we went hiking again. Not a bad thing in and of itself. We packed drinks and sandwiches. Dad had heard about this driving loop with trails you could hike branching off it from either Regan Ragland or Donna Peters (I'm not sure... mom wasn't either). It sounded promising. We decided to hike to Rainbow Falls, come back to the car, eat lunch, and hit another trail. Well... it didn't turn out that way. The sign said: RAINBOW FALLS 2.7 MI. Everyone assumed it meant 2.7 miles round trip. Except me. But I didn't say anything. This happens a lot. I have private reservations about something or am silently questioning a decision on someone's part, but I keep my mouth shut since I don't want to cause trouble or I assume that the person knows what they are doing. Then they realize that something's gone wrong and I say, "Well, I wondered..." Mom usually replies, "Why didn't you tell me?" I then say, "Well, I thought you knew what you were doing." Mom: "Haven't you learned that I never know what I am doing?"
    Anyway, I still haven't managed to break this habit since I never actually THINK of actually saying anything! Double grr! (Oh, yes, and mom wanted to see a bear. Knowing how much bodily harm bears are capable of, I was less enthusiastic. To my relief, the bears did not show.)
    So we had been going for nearly an hour and dad asked some hikers coming down if we were halfway there. One laughed and said, "Keep dreaming." Cue revelation that it was actually 5.4 miles roundtrip, and consequent grumpiness from me. (In most of the pictures we took that day, I do NOT look happy. I have my arms folded or I am giving the camera one of my, "See what I have to put up with?" looks. I hate doing forced smiles for the camera since they turn out so bad, so I end up usually having a longsuffering expression due to the goofiness of Peter and Samuel around me. I also usually have my eyes shut in pictures. This adds up to there being few good pictures of me. I will probably regret that fact when I am older, but as for now I don't care much.) Actually, I was probably more annoyed at myself for not saying anything than otherwise, but I'm not good at conveying such feelings. I also have the tendency of stating things inadvertently in such a manner that it sounds like complaining. Not good. I am also not the best about saying what I do like, so... Hey, you should know by now that I am not good with feelings!
    It took us pretty much nearly three hours to get to Rainbow Falls. It wasn't much water, but it was a very impressive drop... I'm no good with distances... maybe forty or more feet? Dunno. Dad would know. He can estimate distances and stuff like that. There were more signs posted telling hikers not to climb on the waterfall. We all did it anyway. Noting the slippery rocks, I was not willing to do so but mom and dad wanted a picture, so...
    Oh, and as we left the falls to hike back down, IT STARTED RAINING! Oh, joy! Actually, that part was kind of fun. Samuel and I pretty much ran down the muddy, rocky path in the rain, a stupid thing to do in retrospect (actually, I was semi-aware at the time of the stupidness of it) but still kind of fun. It took us an hour or so to get down. Samuel and I beat everyone to the parking lot, took advantage of the primitive restrooms (translate: holes in ground with potty seats over them) and informed every passerby that no, the restrooms were not occupied or that yes, the restrooms were occupied for the next 15 minutes waiting for the rest to show up. Seriously, we were just sitting there on rocks nearby and every person going to the bathroom felt compelled to ask us about their current occupancy. I guess they figured that we would know and I didn't really mind answering... it's just curious that every single person asked.

We spent the rest of Wednesday recovering.

On Thursday we came home. 5.4 mile hike coupled with six or more hours of sitting in a car = extreme stiffness. When we got out of Arby's I could barely walk. Elaine couldn't move much either. Cue amusement from mom and dad when we informed them of this today (I am not stiff now, thank you very much), since they thought they had been the only sore ones. Dad told me I was getting old. I was not amused. My birthday is in less than 10 days. Eek! I'm not sensitive about my age yet but it's like, SHEESH, WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

Cue, "The Days Go By," music by Keith Urban.

In other news, I am officially displeased with the UNA Bookstore. How hard is it to get the list of people with bookstore scholarships? It happens every year. They should be prepared for this. You'd think with today being the day upperclassmen move in (freshmen was yesterday) they would have the list in so people could get their books early. NO. They weren't even sure they'd have the entire list by Wendesday. WHAT? Seriously, what??? Do they think no one gets their books before the second week of class? Some classes actually do more than read the syllabus the first day, you know. In Cal 1 we did a review worksheet. Anyway. I am displeased with the Bookstore. Although I saw a copy of Thor there and was tempted to get it. A million thank-yous to the wonderful Amy for introducing me to the Marvel cinematic universe!!! I want to get Thor myself and inflict it upon my family. I have been informing Elaine of all the funny parts ever since then.

Wow, long post. I should probably stop ranting by now...

In Pace Christi,