Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Before I talk about Thanksgiving week...

Our Space Studies department is AWESOME.

NASA funds UND next-generation lunar exploration system project
Grant is part of the North Dakota NASA EPSCoR program

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has approved funding for a University of North Dakota (UND) next-generation lunar exploration system project. The three year $741,109 grant comes through NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The principal investigator for the project is Paul Hardersen, and the science principal investigator is Pablo de Leon, both of UND Space Studies.

“Successful competition with NSF and NASA indicates the highest levels of creativity and thought,” said UND President Robert Kelley. “This grant is recognition at the highest levels of UND’s ground-breaking work in this area. It signals that we're going to be leaders in the research that's going to take us back to the Moon.”

Phyllis Johnson, UND’s new vice president of research and economic development, agreed that the NASA grant indicates a clear understanding among federal officials involved in space exploration that UND has demonstrated expertise, unique facilities, and institutional commitment to the country’s space effort.

“Clearly, UND is at the forefront of work that will take us back to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars,” Johnson said.

The NASA grant will support the design and development of a three-part system: a lunar rover; inflatable modular habitat units; and a lunar exploration suit. All three will be part of a coordinated system that will share capabilities. The project will be housed in UND’s Space Suit Laboratory, part of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (UND Aerospace).

“This is excellent news and will certainly accelerate space systems research in North Dakota,” said Hardersen, a planetary geologist and associate professor in space studies. Hardersen also is director of the North Dakota NASA EPSCoR and of the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium.

“Our mission is to develop state-of-the-art space suit components and a fully integrated lunar exploration system,” said Pablo de Leon, NDX project director and research associate in the Department of Space Studies. De Leon, an aerospace engineer from Argentina, led the widely tracked NDX-1 Mars planetary exploration technology effort that was partly funded by NASA through the Consortium.

“This newly funded lunar exploration system project is the first major success in our targeted efforts to develop truly long-lasting and effective space research programs in North Dakota,” Hardersen said. “UND space studies will reap major benefits from this work by involving students directly in the lunar exploration suit/rover project and by developing a hardware capability in the department.”

The three-year funding also will allow UND Aerospace to continue to advance part of its mission of creating new knowledge, in this case pushing the space exploration boundaries in space suit technology, said Paul Lindseth, associate dean of UND Aerospace.

All of the systems described in the grant will be built at UND and NDSU with assistance from the North Dakota College of Science and Dickinson State University, de Leon said. Additionally, the project will include participation and contributions from the Boeing Company, Cirrus Aircraft, ILC Dover, Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), Packet Digital, and Paragon Space Development Corporation. Of these companies Cirrus, GEM, and Packet Digital are North Dakota-based hi-tech companies which will provide opportunity for regional economic development, de Leon said.

“Workforce development was a key part of our proposal, and I believe strongly in the hands-on teaching mission that this represents,” said de Leon, who has worked extensively with students in past and ongoing space technology programs, including the planetary exploration suits and UND’s unique space flight simulators.

The N.D. NASA EPSCoR program is supported with matching funds from the North Dakota legislature to build research infrastructure in the state.

From UND's website. Granted, this happened in August, but I just got an e-mail about it today. Or, specifically, the reception celebrating it a week from today. I'm so going. I have to make connections...and, of course, be really, really happy that SOME effort is going into going to the Moon and Mars.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving

So I've been pretty much out of the blogging mood for at least a week. Now I'm back. Yaaay!

So, happy belated Thanksgiving!

Things I'm thankful for:
1.) My family, who is just plain awesome.
2.) Going to UND, because I'm one step closer to my dream.
3.) Band.
4.) Living in a country that allows me to say bad things about its leader without having government agents kicking down my door.
5.) YouTube, because I got to see the Persona 3 Portable intro, despite the fact that it's not out in the US yet.


Thursday, November 19, 2009


I haven't had any new posts lately, because nothing post-worthy has been happening lately. Life's been pretty normal as of late.

So I'll just post news articles for now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

*slow clapping*

Courtesy of USAToday:

White House: Ill. prison eyed for Gitmo inmates

CHICAGO (AP) — The Obama administration may buy a near-empty prison in rural Illinois to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay along with federal inmates, a White House official said Saturday.

The maximum-security Thomson Correctional Facility, about 150 miles west of Obama's adopted hometown of Chicago, was one of several evaluated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and emerged as a leading option to house the detainees, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a decision has not been made.

President Obama wants detainees from the controversial military-run detention center in Cuba to be transferred to U.S. soil so they can be prosecuted for their suspected crimes.

Thomson was built by the state in 2001 with 1,600 cells, but budget problems prevented it from fully opening, and it now houses about 200 minimum-security inmates.

It is unclear how many Guantanamo detainees — alleged terrorism suspects, many held without charges since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan — might be transferred to Illinois or when. Obama initially planned to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been hinting at a possible new use for Thomson, and he issued a statement saying he would hold a news conference Sunday to outline those plans.

Quinn's spokeswoman Marlena Jentz did not return a phone message from the AP Saturday.

If the Federal Bureau of Prisons buys the facility, it would be run primarily as a federal prison, but a portion would be leased to the Defense Department to house a limited number of Guantanamo detainees, the White House official said. Perimeter security at the site would be increased to surpass that at the nation's only Supermax prison, in Florence, Colorado, the official said.

The plan has support from Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's second-highest-ranking Democrat, and Thomson Village President Jerry Hebeler, who says the move would generate desperately needed revenue for the town of about 500 residents.

Some lawmakers opposed the idea of terrorism suspects being brought to Illinois. U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican running for Obama's old Senate seat, circulated a letter among elected officials asking them to write to Obama opposing the plan.

Thomson is not the only U.S. town that had hoped to lure Guantanamo detainees. Officials in Colorado, Montana and elsewhere in Illinois have said they would welcome the jobs that would be generated.

Yes, let's move these extremely dangerous people onto U.S. soil. We might as well be holding a huge sign saying "PLEASE KILL US NOW". Not even Germany was stupid enough to go with that.

Who elected these bozos again?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Final Football Game of the Year

On Saturday, we had our final football game of the academic year.

This wasn't the only reason why it was special, though.

I guess the last football game of the year is also Band Day. This is when high schools from all over northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota come to play with us. In other words, I got to play the role of "cool college kid" again!

I was feeling much better Saturday than I did on Thursday and Friday, days in which I missed school (and, in Friday's case, spending six hours working on a computer lab that was due the same day that was insanely complex). I got up early, took a shower (and my antibiotics, 500 Mg of Cephalexin), packed my stuff, checked my mental list twice, and head out. The first leg of my odyssey to the Hughes from my dorm (no buses run on the weekends) is straight down University Avenue. The second leg starts when I turn at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. As I already previously established, the President of the university's house is practically right across the street to the Fritz. I pass it every time I go to the Hughes.

I had the fortune to have the President and First Lady drive past me in their car as they left their house. They definitely recognized me as a member of the band, too. They waved at me.

I got acknowledged of my existence by the University President. So freaking cool.

After I dropped my stuff off in the band room, I headed to Wilkerson to get some breakfast...only to realize that, oh yeah, the dining center doesn't open till 11. That has to be one of the most ridiculous things ever. 11 is LATE. Even for later football games, I have to bolt down my food in the instant the place opens so that I'm not late for my call time. Since it was 10ish, I opted to get two jelly-filled donuts at the to-go cafe. At least I'll be hungry for lunch.

When I got back, I spent my sweet time repacking everything in my hat box and putting on my uniform. The buses came earlier than usual, causing us to leave at 11:15. The e-mail we got a day or so earlier said to be at the band room at 11:15. This resulted in a few people missing the bus, luckily not including me.

After getting to the Alerus, we discovered that we couldn't practice at the moment thanks to the Southern Oregon Raiders practicing on our field. Luckily, they were gone after we spent time putting all of our crap in the stands, so we got to practice our pregame and our "halftime" shows.

"Halftime" is in quotes because our normal halftime show would not be played at halftime. Instead, we were going to play it for four-hundred-or-so high school kids in the stands before the game, and play with them in one huge formation during halftime.

While I was feeling better than I did the few days before, I was still sick. My bronchitis reared its ugly head after our rehearsal of halftime, when I had a really bad coughing fit. Like, dry-heaving and stuff, it was that bad. I held off on using my rescue inhaler, though, in part because it would've made me shaky before causing me to crash, and in part because I stopped coughing by the time I made it to my seat in the stands with all of my stuff.

The kids started flooding in shortly after. We broke up into sections and got into circles so that the incoming kids would know where to go. I call them "kids" because they seemed so damn young! And I thought I was oh-so-mature in my senior year of high school!

We had about 40 people in our high woodwinds group, a good amount of them being flutes. Thankfully, we outnumbered the stupid trumpet section. The poor french horns had, like, seven people. And we had a TON of tubas.

And then the issue came of setting everyone to their spots and practicing the halftime show.

Here's the thing: we rehearsed the music for this on Monday's rehearsal and Friday's rehearsal. The previous post titled "Horrible" was posted on Monday, before the scheduled band rehearsal, which I ended up not going to due to a fever. There was no rehearsal Wednesday, and I missed school on Friday, when there was another rehearsal.

Which pretty much meant that I was winging this, while sick, on a new 3 1/2-sized reed (which is harder to play on than an already broken-in, 3-sized reed).

I still kicked ass.

Afterwards, they spent forever getting their butts in the stands (it did NOT help that they had to be in alphabetical order), and the line was long enough to be winding on the field, which we were setting up for our "halftime" show on.

And then we played it (Caravan, I Just Wanna Celebrate, a scatterdrill so we could get to our spots, and The Pretender). And, yet again, I kicked ass, in part because of the new reed; the bigger the number, the thicker it is. The thicker it is, the harder it is to play on, but the trade-off is that you can play much louder with far less squeakage. Which makes it very, very useful for marching band shows.

We had to really book it afterwards, though, because we had to play for our arriving team.

Lunch was weird. It took forever, for one, because all of the high-schoolers got to line up first. There were only two lines, and the food was nachos, so it took a while. I spent time by passing the line, getting a cup of water, and using it to take my antibiotics (three times a day!), then going back to the stands, grabbing my Nintendo DS, going to the back of the virtually non-existant line, and playing it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll get past all of the boring shit. Hold your horses.

Fast-forward past lunch and the performance for the tailgaters. Our pregame had to be performed earlier than usual, because there was some special stuff going on. This "special stuff" was for things I forgot to mention earlier on in this post. You see, while we the band thought of the game as Band Day, the football game was really special in that, one, it was senior day for the football players, and two, the game was in dedication to all military vets and service members (police officers, firefighters, etc.). So some things were happening differently.

For instance, while walking over to my side of the field pre-pregame, they were playing the music video for Citizen Soldier on both viewscreens.

During pregame itself, after we were awesome and made of win and sitting on the field in our UND formation, they took their sweet-ass time calling out the names of the football players. This kind of pissed me off, because my band director last game had to rush through the names of the seniors during halftime to make sure we wouldn't cause the other performers during halftime to be late.

After pregame, they had members of the Army ROTC rappelling from the ceiling, one of them doing it head first.

From up here.

...however, since I was on the sidelines in full uniform, I didn't have my camera with me, so I couldn't take pics of them doing it. It was really cool, though.

And then kickoff happened and we went back to the stands. The Band Day kids were in a portion of the stands next to us. Though they had their instruments (with the exception of the drumline), we were the only ones allowed to play.

The high-schoolers are the ones in white. They got free T-shirts.

Don't worry, the student section was actually relatively packed a little while after I took this picture.

The drums of the high-schoolers were too big to put in the stands all together (as they would only fit in the very first row), so they were left sitting behind the endzone.

Here's the thing about the Southern Oregon team: they're the Raiders. Texas Tech, which we were against during our first game of the academic year, are the Red Raiders. As a result, we took it upon ourselves to mock the Southern Oregon team by acting like our hands were pistols and shooting them in the air, just like the Texas Tech fans. Also, everything was in RAIDER VISION*.

*(what the viewscreen would say in Texas Tech before a replay of what just happened)

Here are some random football pics:

Getting ready to kill some brain cells.

The people on the other side, which basically consists of anyone who isn't a student.

...and brain cells have been killed. People were joking that they were watching hockey, because we actually had a few fights and dogpiles start up.

In the stands, I usually sit next to a clarinet player named Phil, who is a freshman. He also happens to be a stage actor, and performed in one of the latest shows on campus, "Godspell" (even the plays here are religious).

Well, during the second quarter, since things were different halftime-wise, we had no idea when to come down to the sideline. The drum major said that herself, that she would basically have to tell us to come down at a moment's notice in full uniform. The senior low woodwind section leader transcribed this to us, and the last thing he said was "Be prepared".

The first thing to pop up in my head was The Lion King. This also happened to be the first thing that Phil thought of, too, because he and a tenor player sitting behind literally started, word for word, acting out the dialogue in the middle of the song in The Lion King. It was absolutely hilarious!

Phil (on the left) also sang "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (and the dialogue in the middle of that) from The Little Mermaid during the football game before this one. It was also hilarious and awesome.

Long before we left the stands, the high-schoolers got on the sidelines, behind the endzone. Five game-minutes afterwards, we finally came down. At this point in the game, we were losing, 3 to 17.

But something awesome happened after that. I guess the combined awesomeness of the high-schoolers and us on the sidelines did something, because we got a touchdown and a field goal. And then, in thirty seconds we tied with them, 17 to 17. It was one of the most amazing things ever.

Halftime was interesting. Five hundred people on the field in arcs, playing three songs. Nothing noteworthy happened.

After halftime, I no longer had the stress of wondering when exactly I had to be in uniform, so I started taking lots and lots of pictures. There was also the fact that the game took an eternity.

Yet another dogpile.

Our players.

Us doing one of our cheers.

Bass drums!

It turned out that I wasn't the only one taking pictures.

One of the colorguard members. We both took a picture of the other with our cameras in our faces. She's apparently a photography major.

Speaking of colorguard, a good number of them have these band shirts that they like to wear. For the longest time, I've found them hilarious, but I now finally got a picture of one.

It says:
Colorguard Scoring Guide
on the field, if you hit...

Another Flag = 0 points
A Flute = 10 points
A Clarinet = 10 points
A Saxophone = 15 points
A Trumpet = 20 points
A Trombone = 25 points
A Baritone = 35 points
A Sousaphone = 50 points
A Drummer = 55 points
A Drum Major = 65 points
The band director...RUN!

In high school, we always joked about how we'd get more points in our scoring if a flag hit a judge on the field. Oh, and just so you know, "Sousaphone" is another name for "Tuba", specifically, the marching tubas. Pretty sure they're named after John Phillip Sousa, he of a hundred famous marches that sound exactly the same, but don't quote me on that one.

And speaking of cameras, we actually had a cameraman come up to us in the stands to film two of our drummers yelling "We are North Dakota!" to the camera.

I mentally responded shortly after he left that the two drummers had egos the size of North Dakota.

During one of the time-outs during one of the later quarters, this guy takes a random person from the audience and asks them three questions. For every question they get right, a T-shirt is flung to a designated section. The last one is always ridiculously easy to ensure that one shirt is always thrown.

For the lulz, we always collectively yell "False" to throw the guy off. During one of the hockey games, it actually worked! And yes, there is a "False" choice, I just managed to get a picture of the viewscreen after they showed the correct choice.

Some of the high-schoolers left directly after halftime, while some stayed longer, depending on what school they were from. The ones that stayed got to join us in playing a little bit. One of the songs was "Hey Baby", which, as Mom remembers, was a song we played a lot in high school. Hilariously enough, it is the exact same arrangement!

High schoolers in our ranks. I actually kinda "recruited" the girl on the right. She said that she'll be coming here in two years (she's a sophomore).

More high schoolers!

And now, a word on who conducts us.

The person who usually does this is the drum major. We have two of them, so they alternate between quarters. I couldn't get a decent pic of the one who does the first and third quarters, so here's the other one.

You can just see the mischievous glint in her eyes!

I guess one of the traditions of Band Day is to let the seniors conduct the band through one song. That was added to my list of "stuff I can't wait to do when I'm a senior".

He's technically an alumnus, but he got to conduct us anyway. He's pretty nice.

A tuba player. He sure looks happy to be on the ladder!

Corey, one of the many obnoxious trumpet players. The fact that he gets to play all of the solos in our halftime tunes (including The Pretender) doesn't help this. Even his conducting is overdramatic, though he did this for comedic effect.

The infamous tenor player who is always the ringleader behind the drumline's many shouted insults. I couldn't get a pic of him conducting, so here he is on the sideline.

The low woodwinds section leader. He's pretty nice, too. He abhors the idea of going here for graduate school (and being in band during graduate school) for some reason, and he's actually graduating this semester.

A colorguard member. She's the one who let me photograph the back of her shirt.

A french horn player. He's pretty cool.

You might've noticed that I didn't mention any of their names. This is because I'm extremely bad with names and I don't remember any of them.

After a fourth quarter that seemed to take FOREVER, we finally ended the game on a winning note. The score was something like 30 to 22, with us winning.

And now, finally, what you've all been waiting for!

I badgered the colorguard member with a camera to take a picture of me in full uniform.

...wait for it...

...wait more for it...


Ok, so my hat's crooked. Whatever.

In years past, they've actually had chains on the front of the uniform, with braiding on the shoulders, and a half-cape. This is rather plain in comparison.

And so ends this academic year's marching band season. It's been rather fun. I still have hockey games, and I was able to enroll in Marching Band for next semester, so I'll still be taking game pics.

Oh, did I ever tell you my classes for next semester?

Communications 110 - Fundamentals of Public Speaking (Honors)
Computer Science 161 - Computer Science II
Math 208 - Discrete Mathematics
Music 271 - University Band
Music 272 - Marching Band
Physics 110 - Introductory Astronomy
Space Studies 410 - Life Support Systems (online course)

It would be really nice if I knew what the hell Discrete Mathematics was.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Post about Saturday

Will be coming up very, very soon. Now that those 20+ pictures are resized and I finally have some free time, I'm going to be finally writing that post.

...after I take a shower and get ready for class, of course.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The shit just keeps piling up.

Things on my mind lately:

- My declining grades. Getting As and Bs in Honors classes in high school? Piece o' cake. Getting Bs in normal classes here? Really, really hard. It doesn't help that taking notes in normal Computer Science class does me no good, because everything I learn, I learn in Lab, by actually coding things and experimenting. This makes it extremely difficult for me when the normal tests come around, because I have a hard time explaining what goes on behind the scenes as I spend six hours on 134 lines of code. Space Studies is going great (teacher says you need to score above the mean on the tests, and I've been consistently doing that), but I have a C in Honors right now. Both band classes are guaranteed As, but I'm not sure if they can keep my GPA up to a 3.0 needed to renew a scholarship I got.

It's extremely frustrating going from always getting As and Bs every year to having Bs and Cs. EXTREMELY frustrating. Especially when one those classes is the basic class for your major and you wanted to get an A in it.

And I can't just study for hours upon hours like my roommate does. Just...can't. For Honors, what do I study? Really, what do I? We go over different things every week. We don't have a set textbook whatsoever. Our classes consist only of discussion and our homework consists only of reading. Computer Science? I can't. YOU try "studying" a textbook of computer code. It doesn't work for me. HTML/CSS I learned by myself, by looking at the source code of others and figuring how they did the things they did and what would happen if I tweaked it. The test today in Computer Science had things that I could remember BECAUSE I worked for six hours on a lab that greatly involved those "things". None of my classes are ones you can really outright "study" for.

It's putting an insane amount of pressure on me. INSANE. I'm afraid that I might break...

- Money. It just frustrates me that I can't get the things I want, but I can't get a job because of my schedule (well...actually, with no more football games and with hockey games being late at night, I might actually be able to get a job now - the bookstore that's a five-minute walk from here has a big "Now Hiring" sign up). Every now and then I find myself looking at my wishlist and becoming extremely depressed. Yeah, there's Christmas, but I'm not exactly going to be in a set point around that time, thanks to my next point...

- So a few hours after deciding it, I just got informed by my mom that she'll be moving to Texas. WELL THANKS A FREAKING LOT. All that planning I did? Gone. Those plane tickets that I spent hundreds of my leftover financial aid money on? Useless. She says she'll help work it out, but I seriously doubt it, she's not getting paid enough to accommodate a move AND buy at least $400 worth of plane tickets. And if we're moving, I can't even get anything for Christmas, since I don't have an address to send it to. Furthermore, this will also undo ALL of the address-changing I've been doing regarding my "home address", so I'll have to contact Tricare and a bazillion other people to change it yet AGAIN. I know it's selfish of me, but after all of the other times she said that she'll move or go here or there, having to change EVERYTHING for something that doesn't even have a set date adds a whole lot more stress to my already overstressed life.

Why me? Why the HELL does it have to be me? Everyone else has family close by. Practically everyone I know has a stable home with two parents, and a house, and they've STAYED IN THE SAME FREAKING PLACE all their lives. They go home during a weekend and see everyone. I can't. I can't freaking do that. I MIGHT have a chance to see my old high-school bandmates again ONE more time before I help mom move to Texas. And then after that, I can never see them again. Or the people at the allergist. Or my old dentist. Hell, one of the things I wanted to do when I come back to Las Vegas was to get a new set of retainers at my ol' orthodontist, since my old ones are wearing out. CAN'T DO THAT IF I HAVE TO LEAVE THE NEXT DAY, NOW CAN I? And my A key on my computer has been acting up again, I wanted to go to the store where I bought the laptop and use my shiny warranty so they can do some heavy-duty work on that goddamn key.

Everyone else has a freaking car because their relatives live around here. Me, I'm by myself. I'm a freaking adult and I still have to rely on others to get to places like I'm back in high school. I still have to beg and plead my bandmates to take me to the practice field every Marching Band practice. I'm all by myself here. And I'm sad. And lonely, because no one knows what the FUCK it is like to live outside of North Dakota. Everyone can go home over thanksgiving and hunt some deer with their families, while I'm stuck here by myself. I'm an agnostic in a highly Christian town. And you know what? Now Mom's leaving, going somewhere else, where I'll STILL be a complete and utter stranger to everyone, and faced with the EXACT SAME PROBLEMS I have here with people, when I expected to catch up with the familiar faces I've known for years and spend some time in a city that, while I completely HATE its GUTS, is at least FAMILIAR.'s late. I'm tired, strung-out, stressed-out. But I need SOME way to vent my feelings about everything, before I snap.

Thanks a lot.

To the guy who saw me on the way to Wilkerson yesterday, thanks BUNCHES for NOT telling me about the Computer Science test we were going to have today. Thank you SO FREAKING MUCH.

You have me in TWO classes, one of which is Computer Science. I was absent from both of those classes on Friday. Did it EVER occur to you that I might not know what the hell we did on Friday? Instead, I got a very cold "hi" from you, and that was it.

You know, in high school, any time I saw someone who was absent for a class I had them in, I filled them in, and was happy to do so, even if they say "[insert student here] already told me, thanks".

But you didn't even bother to, not even when you sat down at another table five feet away from me and looked at me from the corner of your eye! Thank you so freaking much, my grade is going to go down more, and it's going to be harder to maintain that 3.0 GPA that I need to renew that scholarship. Thanks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good news and bad news

Good News: I don't have the flu anymore.

Bad News: It's bronchitis.

Today, I woke up feeling a lot crappier than usual, and really, really congested. I was out of energy, too, and had trouble getting out of bed; this, I remedied by hooking my arms around my bent knee and flexing my thigh, pulling me up in the process (like getting up from a squat, except sideways. Or a really screwed-up sit-up).

Everything was extremely tender and painful; combing my half-dry hair after the shower caused some tears. I took a very hot shower, but the steam did little to help with my congestion. After a brief moment of thought, I decided to use my rescue inhaler, since I already have asthma and I didn't want to take chances; the bad thing about this is that it makes me extremely shaky, because it's albuterol. I hate that stuff. But it definitely helped with my congestion.

My "Horrible" post was on Monday. Tuesday and yesterday, I felt a lot better and actually went to my classes and Anime Society (yesterday). Today, I've gotten worse, AGAIN. I called Mom in the hopes of feeling a little better, and she insisted, very forcefully, that I should go to the clinic, since I've been sick for a week.

So I did so - after hanging up with Mom, I called the clinic (see, this is why I don't throw any of my previous appointment slips away, because I was able to find their number in a few seconds) and scheduled an appointment for half an hour from the present time. I usually schedule appointments with them every two weeks on Tuesday for my allergy shots, so they kind of know me over there. Furthermore, the lady thought I sounded really congested over the phone, so she happily offered an earlier time than I thought was available (because everyone is sick).

Shortly after coming in early, I was taken back and was asked basic questions by the very, very nice nurse. I apologized for my vagueness, as everything's kind of a blur when I'm sick and my symptoms varied from day to day. After she left, the doctor came in. He was really nice, too. He did the usual doctor-y things, checking my lungs and and all that jazz. He said that he suspected that I had the flu, but wanted to do some bloodwork (he first asked if I had insurance, of course). I was very surprised when he said that there'd only be a 15-minute wait to get the results.

Here's the thing - usually, when I get bloodwork done, the doctor sends the blood to an external lab, like Quest Diagnostics. As a result, I would always have to schedule a return appointment in at least a week to discuss the results. So the fact that I would only have to wait a little bit before discussing the results was a bit of surprise - granted, I bet that they weren't running the full elaborate battery of tests, but they were still looking at teeny-weeny microscopic little cells in a lab that was probably already looking at other people's teeny-weeny little cells because everyone is sick.

I was escorted to the lab, sat on a bizarre bench (it had swiveling armrests on both sides) specifically for getting my blood drawn, and was attended to by yet another very nice person. She was not only nice, but skilled - after checking both arms for my veins, she decided on my left and struck the vein on her first try. Within what had to be an absolute MAXIMUM of twenty seconds, she had the blood she needed, with minimum pain and external bleeding (she put a bandaid on after I held a cotton ball on it for a few seconds, but I honestly didn't need it, because I wasn't bleeding anymore). She put a drop on two slides, smeared them, and then asked me to go to the lobby and wait. Of course, I did what I was asked.

Now, while I was sitting in the lobby, there was a TV with CNN going. Why they do this is beyond me, as this place is more conservative than Las Vegas. Let me elaborate on this. On my way back home, I passed a car with a McCain bumper sticker, and I've seen practically no cars with Obama ones. In Las Vegas, you'll find a TON of cars with pro-Obama (or even old ones, like Kerry) on their cars. Here, you have people talking about the fact that they'll miss school because X day is the first day of deer hunting season. I've seen some army ROTC members in the parking lot with geese they've hunted (those suckers were HUGE, I didn't even know they got so big!!!). People I know in band have guns at home, and know how to use them. You know the drill. In Las Vegas, if you criticize Obama, you're racist, if you're anti-illegal immigration, you're racist. But people seem to have no problems with that here.

Back to CNN. How President Obama can blast Fox for "having a perspective" and not CNN is beyond me. Oh, wait, it's because they praise him every five seconds. When I first sat down, they were gushing about all of the black women Obama had in his Administration. That's all fine and dandy, but what about the other people in the Administration? Are they just not as important because they're white or male? They were just as qualified to be chosen. So why aren't they as special? I dunno, maybe I'm looking too much into this, or maybe it's because I'm still so bitter about the fact that it was extremely difficult for me to find scholarships that were open to whites (so many scholarships wanted "minority" races, despite the fact that there was no freaking way I, or thousands of other "whites", could ever pay for college with my own money).

And then they had a brief segment "linking" obesity with cancer, even though they explicitly stated that they couldn't justify why without using a bunch of quote-unquote "theories" that were incredibly vague (and barely scientific). One of these was that being fat apparently hinders the immune system. Bullshit. My mom was easily the healthier of the two of us, illness-wise, even before she lost weight. I got sick more often than she did, and she worked in a medical office, with sick people! And then after that, she massaged people from all over the world, who may or may not be sick at the time. I briefly mentioned that my mom was healthier than me under my breath while I was sitting there, and I girl sitting across from me smiled and agreed. And even if she secretly didn't agree with me, I would've gotten a dirty look or something if I was in Vegas.

I got called back, and the doctor went over my results. White blood cell count is established on a scale of 5 to 10. I was 12 (or, specifically, 11.5); he said that since I was younger, my body could put up more of a fight than, say, his (he was old enough that his hair was silvering), hence the past-10 number, something that someone his age wouldn't be able to pull off. However, something involving lymphs had barely risen, despite all of the other specifics being high, indicating that it wasn't a virus (and thus not the flu), but was instead bacterial. He said that, given my high congestion symptoms and the fact that it was bacterial, that it was most likely bronchitis, or something that could also be killed with antibiotics. He said that combined with the previous incidents of chills and fever, there's a chance that, earlier, I could've possibly had pneumonia instead of the flu.

He prescribed me some antibiotics (that I had to take three times a day for ten days) and cough medicine to help me sleep (as I had run out of my NyQuil) and help with my mid-sleep coughing fits that have apparently been waking up my roommate. And then I was escorted out and I thanked him and left.

I've never felt so nicely treated by people at a medical clinic before, with the exception of the people at my allergist, but they were specialized and thus were more able to get to know everyone. We're talking about the ONE student health clinic on campus that sees EVERYONE for EVERYTHING. They were very nice and extremely timely. I felt very satisfied by the care I had received.

On the way home, I opted to walk to the pharmacy, since I figured that I was outside anyway, and I needed to pick up two regular prescriptions I had called in online earlier today.

The people at this pharmacy, despite not being related to or even in the same building as the medical clinic, were also very nice. Even as they were having issues processing things with Tricare, they still filled my prescriptions and let me pay for them and take them home.

About this. Apparently, Tricare likes to change things sometimes. Unfortunately, this means that they get overwhelmed and their servers go down. I sat for about twenty minutes in the pharmacy as the poor ladies kept trying, over and over again, to make my shit go through to Tricare. Ladies and gentlemen, government-run health insurance. Now imagine if Tricare covered millions more and included a lot more people that got drugs the instant their kid complained of a headache or a cough (in comparison to me, who has regular prescriptions picked up once a month and only gets meds when I'm really, really sick). I can see why the pharmacists are not at all happy about this idea.

After I walked back with my meds, I immediately took my antibiotics and asked the RA to get me a sick tray. After eating THAT, while typing this up, I got really sleepy (in part, I think, because I'm crashing from the inhaler) and took a cough-filled nap. And then I woke up and finished typing this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Public Service Announcement...

Hey, you guys up in the White House. Maybe the fact that the Republicans won a few elections will give you even the vaguest hint of an idea that some people *GASP* AREN'T happy with what you and your Democrat friends have been doing!

Monday, November 2, 2009


That's how I feel. The illness decided to flip me the bird and undo any kind of recovery I've gone through over the past day or so, becoming a gazillion times worse. Fever, chills, stuffed nose, sore throat, oh my! *crawls back into bed and "dies"*

Sunday, November 1, 2009

So... I was, watching the third episode of the anime Trigun that was in a boxed set lent to me by the same guy who lent me the Evangelion boxset.

And then something really, really awesome happened.

...imagine, a textbook example of why the populace should be armed, in an anime from a country with strict gun control laws.

(the episode itself involved a gunsmith, who turned out to be the guy with the beer bottle, who ten years prior to the episode gave all of the citizens guns he himself made to fend off reoccurring bandits. He stopped, also several years prior to the episode, when a bank robbery happened that led to his wife and kid being caught in the crossfire and dying; it was committed by a guy who was personally given one of his guns. Also, in case you didn't get it, the guy in the red coat is the real Vash, which is something that you should already know, even if you haven't seen it, because Trigun's easily one of the most famous 90s [or early 2000s, can't remember which] animes ever.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009


My roommate came across this video.

Today's football game

Today, we had our second-to-last football game. I'm still sick, but since I felt so much better yesterday, combined with my obligation to go and not leave a hole in every single formation, I went anyway.

Baaaad idea.

Just walking in the cold to the Hughes to drop my stuff off before breakfast made things so much worse - and this was WITH the medicine.

I felt like shit. And our rehearsal didn't make things better - things that made me out of breath when I was healthy have me wheezing while I'm sick. I was so hot and sweaty after rehearsal that when we went outside to play for the team, I just wore a sweater instead of an actual jacket. When lunch rolled around, I had next-to-no-appetite.

Not to mention, I had another clarinet player comment about how pale I was.

I still played, though, thank you very much. Pre-game, halftime, the whole she-bang. Speaking of halftime, we finally got to play our new show.

We were up against Cal-Poly. They're from California. Apparently, they're 19th in the division.

Also, we kicked their asses. 31-17. Most of that was obtained in the third quarter.

Here are some random pics I got. Sorry if they're a little blurry, my hands were shaky.

Random football players on the field after a play. The green ones are UND's.

My marching band director. This is the first time he's actually taken the podium for playing in the stands all year; usually, one of the drum majors (depending on the quarter) conducts us while we're in the stands.

And again. Hey, I was bored. He's watching the players on the field so he knows when we can and can't perform. When the play's over, depending on the length of the break (which can be predicted by how it ends, like if a flag is called, etc), we perform. We usually have a "long" song (for time-outs and the like) and a "short" song (for between normal plays, far more commonly performed) queued up ahead of time; this is communicated when we finish songs via hand signals. For example, Frankenstein is up next when both arms are stiffly straight out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I'm sick now.

The only indication I had yesterday was that I briefly "smelled smoke" for a few seconds at band.

Now I'm actually sick. Headache, aching joints, stuffy nose, sore throat, and a general feeling of "feeling like shit". To top it off, I didn't even sleep well last night, because no matter what I did, I was either too hot or too cold. My body's really sensitive, too - sitting in my wooden chair with pants on hurts, and the comb touching my scalp as I did my hair just now elicited some winces.

Gaaaaah. I have a football game on Saturday! WHY?!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Haha, this sounds very familiar.

Why Dumb Toys Make Kids Smarter
by Po Bronson

This is a story about the science of kids’ brains. But before we get into things like how dopamine enhances neural signaling, let’s talk about Pokémon.

Early in our son’s life, my wife let it be known that she didn’t have many clear-cut rules about how we’d raise him. To her, the world of parenting was not to be artificially cleaved into what’s Good for Kids and what’s Bad for Kids. However, she felt the need to warn me of two exceptions: violent videogames and Pokémon cards.

“We are not going to let him do those,” she stated firmly.

The violent videogames I understood. Pokémon, I did not—I wasn’t really aware what Pokémon cards were. But while babysitting during graduate school, my wife had seen young kids become crazily obsessed with the cards, to the point where the preoccupation seemed to take over their young lives. “It eclipses their interest in other things,” she said. “And it’s the earliest form of status trap, too. Their sense of self-worth becomes tied up in what cards they possess. They get feelings of superiority merely by owning an Infernape card.”

Not knowing what an Infernape card was, I readily accepted my wife’s declaration. She made a child’s fixation on Pokémon cards sound like a heroin addiction.

But then, the summer my son was 5, we traveled to Seattle to visit his cousins. Several of these cousins, a little older than he was, were into Pokémon cards. My son wanted, more than anything, to merely belong. Sensing this, we decided not to object when his cousins gifted him a dozen low-level cards—a few Pikachus, and something cute that looked like a baby turtle.

At the end of the summer, the cards were stashed away. It wasn’t until the next summer vacation, again with his cousins, that Pokémon began to take over our son’s mind. His cousins fed him a supply of cards, and at first, he was again motivated principally by a desire to fit in. But then we noticed a few other things. He could go upstairs with his cousins to look over the cards and then pretend to be Pokémon characters for two solid hours—even though there was almost nothing else he could do, without distraction, for more than 20 minutes. Pokémon didn’t seem so much an addiction as good-natured absorption—genuine, intrinsically oriented self-direction. We also realized the cards were teaching him category systems and math.

That following school year, in his first-grade class, Pokémon became social currency. About half his class was entranced by the cards. At times it seemed ridiculous, but then I’d hear my son plop down two cards and talk out more complicated math problems than anything he saw at school: “160HP minus 110HP plus 30 resistance points minus 20 weakness points equals 60 points left,” he’d say, then plop down two more cards to solve.

I didn’t know then what I know now: Through this repetition, his brain was transforming. Heavily used neurons were learning to fire together, and these chains of neurons were becoming myelinated in thin sheaths of fat; by this process, “gray matter” is converted into “white matter.” The sheath surrounding the nerves acts as an electrical insulator, increasing neural speed by 100-fold. Active repetition also began tuning up the nerve capsules that connected his prefrontal cortex to his parietal cortex in the back of the brain. When these superhighways of nerve tissue come on board, the brain learns to delegate math to the back of the brain, making computation speed radically faster.

While we weren’t aware of the neuroscience, it was plainly obvious: Pokémon cards were making our son’s brain really fast at elementary-school math. I began to buy him cards. Lots of cards.

The second half of first grade, our son started reading the fine-print paragraphs on the cards. He got more reading time in through his love of Pokémon than he ever did at night, when we handed him books. He did read the books out loud to us, but it was a necessary chore. Pokémon was never a chore. And I noticed the paragraphs on the cards were syntactically far more complicated than anything he read in books. Soon, the same brain transformation that drove his math speed was reproduced with his reading speed.

Pokémon had taken over his brain. But in ways my wife never expected. Early in second grade, his math teacher told us he was as fast at math as the fifth graders. Not bad for a kid turned away by most of the local private schools prior to kindergarten.

Something else happened early in second grade. One afternoon, while watching the Phillies march to their World Series title, my wife taught our son how to read a box score—how math and symbols represented the game’s progress. Within a two-month span, our son lost every last drop of his interest in Pokémon, and he fell in love with sports. Hand him Harry Potter today, and it’ll take him an hour to read 10 pages. Hand him a youth-biography of David Beckham, and he’ll read all 120 pages in a single sitting. That’s just who he is.

Our son taught me an extremely valuable lesson. When it comes to kids, we often bring moralistic bias to their interests. There’s a pervasive tendency in our society to label things as either good for children or bad for children. Cultivating children’s natural intrinsic motivation requires abandoning all judgment of good and bad content. Society has a long list of subjects that we’ve determined they should learn. But learning itself is kick-started when enmeshed and inseparable from what a child inherently loves. How many parents are ignoring this, pushing flash cards and phonics cards onto their kids, attempting to trigger learning in an amotivational situation?

My previous book, What Should I Do With My Life?, was a portrait of a generation that had spent the first two decades of life ignoring their intrinsic motivations. They were bright and talented, but had spent so many years doing what was expected of them, and studying what society told them they should study, that they were no longer in touch with their natural desires. They’d been praised endlessly, told they were smart, and had no internal compass when it came to making career decisions. Learning to recognize their own passions was incredibly difficult and stunted. It had been drilled out of them as children.

It’s important to underscore that this isn’t a philosophical argument—it’s a neurological argument. Motivation is experienced in the brain as the release of dopamine. It’s not released like other neurotransmitters into the synapses; instead, it’s sort of spritzed into large areas of the brain, which enhances the signaling of neurons. The motivated brain, literally, operates better, signals faster. Kids learn better.

How exactly does this happen? According to Dr. Silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at U.C. Berkeley, the presence of dopamine triggers a meaningful tweak in the tuning function of brain cells. Dopamine depolarizes neurons and improves their firing rate; their response to optimal stimuli becomes sharper, and the background buzz of relevant stimuli is quieted a little.

In other words, each neuron operates sort of like a motivated child: It becomes focused, less distractable, and when it does something right, it recognizes that in the moment—it hangs on to that information, ready to use it again.

In my son’s case, it was Pokémon that triggered the spritz of dopamine, which enabled him to learn so much from the cards. Now it’s sports that triggers the spritz. I suppose someday he will fall in love with other things, too, and because he’s loved passionately before, he’ll know what it feels like to love—he’ll recognize the feeling of passion: His brain is turned on, turbocharged.

My daughter, meanwhile —just 5— is into princesses and Supergirl. I’m no fool. I’m rolling with it.

Now if Disney would only start printing Princess trading cards.

Courtesy of The Daily Beast, a site I've never heard of.

MAN, I remember when I was a kid, when I first got into Poke'mon. Sometime while I was in 3rd grade or so, my cousin gave me just one of her cards - an utterly pathetic Rattata card. I was still so ecstatic, though - it's a CARD with a purple RAT on it! I also got into the show around that time, but I'm not sure which came first, the show or the card.

The beginning of my hobby also involved Christmas presents at Grandma's place. She got my cousin both Poke'mon Red and Blue (since she didn't know which to get). My cousin gave me the stickerbook/Poke'dex, maybe out of an act of pity over my lack of games (no handhelds for me at the time). I vaguely remember one of my presents being a Fossil series Poke'mon card deck, one of the very first TCG card sets to ever be released for the trading card game. It had a holographic Muk (a Poison-type Poke'mon that's a huge blob of malevolent toxic sludge) that, along with about twenty or so other holographic cards, got destroyed in the wash later on when I left them in my pocket.

And then my birthday came around. Pretty sure it was my ninth. I got a lot of birthday money, but didn't know what to spend it on. At the local CompUSA, I had a choice between a Walkman and a GameBoy Color. Sitting on a shelf behind a door of glass (or just clear plastic) was the game that beckoned me. Poke'mon Silver. It was sitting next to Poke'mon Gold, but I thought Silver version's Lugia (a dragon/birdish legendary Poke'mon that looks FREAKING AWESOME) looked cooler than Gold version's Ho-oh (a Chinese phoenix, which also looks awesome but not as awesome as Lugia). Being a kid, I naturally went with Silver version, and the GameBoy Color with it.

That pretty much changed my life.

Over the years, I've made friends because of Poke'mon. It was a real conversation starter when I was a kid. I've played the games for so many hours that I've maxed out the game clocks. I can recognize the Poke'mon by sight and by the sounds they make when you send them out. The series is a gift that keeps on giving - while learning Japanese in high school, I used the original Japanese names of Poke'mon to remember vocabulary - for instance, Tentacruel (a giant, poisonous jellyfish) is "Dokukurage" in Japanese, "Doku" meaning poison and "kurage" meaning jellyfish. Bellossom (an adorable little flower Poke'mon) is "kireihana", "kirei" meaning pretty or beautiful, and "hana" meaning flower. Pikachu translates literally to "sparkle mouse", Darkrai is a combination of both the English word "dark" and the Japanese word for dark, "kurai" (Darkrai is originally Daakurai in Japanese).

The games themselves really do make you think. You have to figure out your opponent's weaknesses and hit them for massive damage. You have to form strategies for tougher opponents, like the Gym Leaders (aka boss fights). This becomes really evident in the competitive battlefield, where you have to worry about additional factors, such as hidden stats, specific movesets, tiers, status effects, held items, abilities, the base stats of the species you're up against (is it naturally a "wall" or is it a "sweeper"?) and stat buffs/debuffs. The card game is just as, if not more, complicated, and that's even in normal play, let alone tournament play.

Oh yeah, I obviously haven't stopped collecting the cards. I reckon that with the cards I've gotten since the last time I counted them, I have over a thousand unique cards, with a few hundred duplicates. And Mom can testify to the fact that my DS was brought everywhere I went back when I lived in Las Vegas. That thing was my lifeline - have to wait two hours after eating Lunch/Dinner before band practice? Sitting in a long line at the movie theater? On a long road trip? Flying on a plane for a few hours? Waiting for your doctor to see you? Don't worry, my DS and Poke'mon has it covered. It's the antidote to complete and utter boredom. And I love it.

In the spring, the English versions of the Gold/Silver remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver, will be coming out. I can't wait. Of course, you know which one I'm getting. ;)

For the record, Infernape is the final evolution in the Chimchar family, the fire starter of the 4th Generation (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum). Fire/Fighting, with high Attack, Special Attack, and Speed stats, I've had my ass handed to me by quite a few of them online. Damn fast monkey bastards.

I don't get it.

I'll freely admit this, right now: I don't practice back at the dorm. It would probably piss off everybody that happened to be in the dorm at that moment. Plus, I practice far better when I have other people with other parts playing alongside me, instead of by myself, where it all seems entirely meaningless. Thus, any and all practice time I get is in class.

So why am I the only clarinet with my marching music memorized?

I get as much, if not less, practice time than the other players. The section leader at the end of rehearsal today mentioned how awesome I am, how, during the time where we were in the concert arc and the section leaders had to sit out, I was the only clarinet player they heard, and how every time they see me at the Hughes, I'm working on my music (in reality, I play the music from memory as a warm-up when I come early to University Band, because scales are really, really boring). I really hope this doesn't prompt everyone else in the high woodwinds to hate me.

I still don't get it.

Kind of relevant...

Courtesy of USA Today:

Police watching for 'peephole' drivers as winter nears

As snow and temperatures start to fall, it's "peephole driving" season in the USA.

Many Americans have done it: gone outside to an ice-covered vehicle on a cold winter's morning, chipped just enough ice off the windshield to see through and driven away.

Peephole driving dramatically reduces a driver's field of vision, and it increases the likelihood that snow or ice can become dislodged and hit another vehicle or a pedestrian, according to police and safety advocates.

"Everybody is in such a hurry to get where they've got to go, they don't want to take the time to completely defrost their windows," says Sgt. Scott Kristiansen of the Buffalo Grove Police Department in suburban Chicago. "That puts everybody at risk.

"Reasonable people who would never think of leaving their driveway with worn tires or bad brakes will routinely drive their children to school after scraping just a small peephole with which to see out of the vehicle," says Kristiansen, a 26-year veteran in the village of about 42,000 northwest of Chicago.

In Illinois and some other states, police can cite drivers for obstruction of a window or obstructed vision. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, drivers can be cited if their failure to remove snow or ice causes injury or property damage.

New Jersey strengthened its law last week. Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, signed legislation requiring drivers to "make all reasonable efforts" to remove snow or ice from the roof, hood, trunk and windshield. For truckers, the law applies to the cab, the top of a trailer or semi-trailer and the top of a freight container. Drivers who fail to comply face a $25-$75 fine.

"There are many stories of innocent drivers who have died or been seriously injured because of ice or snow dislodged from a truck or car," says Republican state Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, a sponsor of the law. "Finally, common-sense legislation that protects drivers by requiring the removal of potential flying debris is now law."

There are no reliable statistics on the number of people hurt or killed because of peephole driving, says David Weinstein, spokesman for AAA clubs of New Jersey. "Often the driver doesn't know what happened and drives away," he says. "Or they do know what happened and know they're culpable and drive away."

Technical Trooper Tim McCool of the Kansas Highway Patrol says he's seen peephole driving increase in his 27-year career as people grow more impatient. He estimates that peephole drivers have 2%-3% of the normal field of vision. As winter looms, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles advises, "Peephole driving is an invitation to disaster."

Reason #126 to not get a car in North Dakota.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


While I was in the bathroom, I overheard a girl mention that her throat has been scratchy. Which means the sickness has possibly hit our dorm now.

According to G.I. Jane, the deans of the school are discussing the possibility of shutting school down for a few days.

This would be very, very bad. More than one day would affect both band classes, both of which have very limited rehearsal time.

Say that school was cancelled on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
We'd be set back a day in Computer Science. We'd be set back a day in Space Studies, a class in which we just got back on schedule for. Pre-calc, unless it's Wednesday, would be set back a day, in a class that looks to be as if we'll be going through new material up to the last class before finals; being set back a day would ensure us being unable to finish all of the material, which is very, very bad, considering that the Computer Science major requires both Calculus I and Calculus II. Honors would be set a day back, but that isn't too bad. If it's a Monday, Computer Science lab would be set a day back, but this also isn't too bad, since the assignments are put up online and we could just do them and submit them at home, which is only a bad thing in that I can't ask for help if I seriously get stuck (BTW, I got 100% on the latest lab test. Do I rock, or what?!).

The worst would be Marching Band. We've already lost a rehearsal last Friday. The next football game is on Saturday, and we're scheduled to do our new show, which is NOT even CLOSE to 100% yet. Furthermore, as the days get shorter, so do our rehearsals - we can't march on a field without any lights, and "our" practice field has no lights. We need our full rehearsals, because we'll also be playing our new show at Extravabandza in early December. Losing one rehearsal or more would ensure our director cutting the marching for the last portion of the show, and having us stand and play the last part of Karn-Evil 9. Which sucks. It's wussy and lame to do that. We can't get those rehearsals back, either, because football and hockey games are on the weekends, so we can't have Saturday and Sunday (a HUGE no-no here - even the Wal-Mart isn't open 24/7 on Sunday) rehearsals.

Say that school was cancelled on a Tuesday or Thursday.
Pre-calc has already been mentioned, but the damage will be even worse if the cancelled days were a Tuesday/Thursday AND a Monday/Friday - that's two 50-minute classes, gone, poof.

What would really be bad would be University Band. We only meet twice a week. If one rehearsal is gone, we go from, say, eight rehearsals before the next concert to seven. An hour and a half of fixing things and getting the balance right, gone. If we missed TWO rehearsals...I shudder to even think about it.

Now, about the possible solution to this - if they cut two days out of Thanksgiving, there will be no problems (though people will be pissed off about it), but if they change our winter break, I'm screwed. I already bought the plane tickets for my visit back home in Las Vegas during winter break at least a month ago, with very specific dates, and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get refunded for them.

Bad, bad, bad, I hope it doesn't come to that. If I get sick, at least the band classes can continue and make progress - I already know all my music for Marching Band anyway, as well as the drill, and University Band is just fixing things with our performance, little of it affecting the 3rd clarinets.

Please don't ruin our schedules...

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Obama: Swine flu a national emergency

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency and empowered his health secretary to suspend federal guidelines at hospitals and speed up how infected people might receive treatment in a disaster.

The declaration that Obama signed late Friday allows Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers, if needed.

Hospitals could modify patient rules — for example, requiring them to give less information during a hectic time — to quicken access to treatment, with government approval.

The declaration, which the White House announced Saturday, allows HHS in some cases to let hospitals relocate emergency rooms offsite to reduce flu-related burdens and to protect noninfected patients.

Administration officials said the declaration was a pre-emptive move designed to make decisions easier when they need to be made. Officials said this was not in response to any single development on an outbreak that has lasted months and has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States.

It was the second of two steps needed to give Sebelius extraordinary powers during a crisis. On April 26, the administration declared swine flu a public health emergency, allowing the shipment of roughly 12 million doses of flu-fighting medications from a federal stockpile to states in case they eventually needed them. At the time, there were 20 confirmed cases in the U.S. of people recovering easily. There was no vaccine against swine flu, but the CDC had taken the initial step necessary for producing one.

"As a nation, we have prepared at all levels of government, and as individuals and communities, taking unprecedented steps to counter the emerging pandemic," Obama wrote in the declaration.

He said the pandemic keeps evolving, the rates of illness are rising rapidly in many areas and there's a potential "to overburden health care resources."

Because of vaccine production delays, the government has backed off initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million doses would be available by mid-October. As of Wednesday, only 11 million doses had been shipped to health departments, doctor's offices and other providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government now hopes to have about 50 million doses of swine flu vaccine out by mid-November and 150 million in December.

The flu virus has to be grown in chicken eggs, and the yield hasn't been as high as was initially hoped, officials explained.

Swine flu is more widespread now than it's ever been. Health authorities say almost 100 children have died from the flu, known as H1N1, and 46 states now have widespread flu activity.

Worldwide, more than 5,000 people have reportedly died from swine flu since it emerged this year and developed into a global epidemic, the World Health Organization said Friday. Since most countries have stopped counting individual swine flu cases, the figure is considered an underestimate.

(Courtesy of USA Today)


...seriously, it's almost like Obama and the media are trying to induce a panic.

Crisis Averted

Looked up the nearest local computer place and took my laptop there via a friend. The A key was fixed for a total of *cue drumroll* $5.35, tax included. It works again! Yaaaay!

People like this piss me off.

Conscience clauses not just about abortion anymore

WASHINGTON — Faced with a request to give an unmarried female patient a prescription for birth control pills, Dr. Michele Phillips looked to her conscience for the answer.

"I'm not going to give any kind of medication I see as harmful," said Phillips of San Antonio. The drugs would not protect her patient from "emotional trauma from multiple partners," Phillips reasoned, or sexually transmitted diseases. "I could not ethically give that type of medication to a single woman."

After the evangelical Christian refused to write the prescription, she resigned her position. She now does contract work at a faith-based practice that permits her to "prescribe according to my ethical values."

Medical technology has surged forward in recent years, leading to many life-saving and life-giving procedures. At the same time, legal and ethical remedies haven't kept pace, and officials at the state and federal level are still working out how to address the sometimes competing needs and values of doctors and patients.

For example, the Obama administration announced last February that it plans to rescind regulations enacted at the end of President Bush's term that permit health care workers to abstain from performing procedures they oppose for moral or religious reasons. Eight months later, the administration has still not announced new rules.

Often, experts say, the debate boils down to a question of convenience versus conscience, of personal choices affected by medical personnel.

" Do we really want co-workers deciding if our religious motivations and reasons are correct?" asked Joan Henriksen Hellyer, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

For example, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities here this month, a panel including Hellyer discussed the disparate dilemmas facing health care workers today, such as:

• A housekeeper who refuses to clean an embryonic stem cell lab.

• An ultrasound technologist who doesn't want to work on Saturday.

• A respiratory tech who refuses to turn off a ventilator.

Bioethicist Holly Fernandez Lynch said consistency is crucial to prevent patients from facing discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation.

"A consistent objection to a service, I think, is totally appropriate as long as there is someone available to provide that service at a reasonable distance," said Lynch, author of Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise.

But, she acknowledged, "the phrase 'reasonable distance' is really a difficult one to figure out."

While larger communities and hospitals have the luxury of a range of practitioners, conscience quandaries are trickier in smaller communities, said Leslie LeBlanc, managing editor of The Journal of Clinical Ethics.

"It's a very difficult question because you can't compel someone to do something they think is morally wrong and, by the same token, clinicians make a promise to help people in need," said LeBlanc, who attended the bioethicists' meeting.

State legislatures have passed a plethora of legislation on the issue, with most permitting health care providers to shun abortion services, the Washington-based Guttmacher Institute reports. Some states, including Louisiana, have passed broader laws that protect health care workers who object to procedures such as cloning, stem cell research, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Rob Vischer, associate professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, argues for letting the free market determine access to all health care services.

"I think people want to have a space to live what they believe," said Vischer, author of the forthcoming Conscience and the Common Good: Reclaiming the Space Between Person and State. "I think that's more consistent with the common good than everybody grabbing for the reins of state power."

Luke Vander Bleek, a Morrison, Ill., pharmacist is fighting in court against an Illinois regulation that requires him to dispense Plan B and other emergency contraception.

"I wanted to be able to practice pharmacy in this small town that I live in where I raised my family and I wanted to be able to do it with a good, clear conscience and sleep well at night," said Vander Bleek, a Roman Catholic.

He said other pharmacies within 12 miles could provide those services instead.

Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, counters that patients should be able to access drugs if they are legal.

"Putting barriers in their way to access those medications only hurts public health," she said.

As the arguments continue, Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, said physicians like Phillips are "a growing reality" and he worries that other physicians might quit permanently. In an April poll, his organization found that an overwhelming percentage of faith-based physicians preferred ending their medical practice to violating their conscience.

"This is the most urgent issue for our membership," he said. "Because they realize that if they lose this battle, they will no longer be practicing medicine."

(courtesy of USA Today)

About the first example, what right does the pharmacist have to assume things about her patient and then make choices like that? I'm on birth control, but I'm taking it to regulate my menstral cycle, which is seriously off without the medication, as I've learned from experience. Just because I'm on birth control doesn't mean I'm going to have sex at all (for the record, I'm a virgin), let alone with "multiple partners" like this moron said.

And, frankly, if you can't do your job because of "conscience" (ESPECIALLY if that is based on misguided assumptions of others), then you should be fired on the spot and replaced with someone who can. You knew what you were getting into during those years of medical school. If you can't stand the heat, stay of the kitchen; likewise, if you can't cook a dish you don't like, also stay out of the kitchen. You have an obligation to your patient. Instead of forcing your beliefs on others, serve your patient, or leave. This even shouldn't be an issue to begin with.

Friday, October 23, 2009


What is this? What the HELL is this?

This just happened a few minutes ago, too. The sucker won't stay on when I type anymore. It appears that the metal clasps are still there...but when I put it back, it's stiffer than the other keys and pops off again after a few presses (and I type fast, too).

I'm seriously about to cry. The "A" key is very important. And I use my computer to take notes in my two most important non-band classes.

This just isn't fair. I NEED this computer. I'm registering for my classes online on the 3rd! My Python programs for Computer Science are on here! It's how I communicate with my mom! It's where I get my notes for Space Studies!! I also wanted to type up a paper about NASA's Constellation program, too!

What do I do, almighty computer people? I need this computer to work properly! *sniff*

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flu Attacks UND!

For the past month or so, the students and faculty of UND have been attacked by the flu, of both the normal and H1N1 varieties. I never mentioned this in part because I didn't want to worry Mom, but also in part because it wasn't relevant.

It is now.

On Tuesday, we literally had a third of the University Band missing for rehearsal. Something along the lines of 25 people missing for a class of 70 people. My band director for U-Band said that he was afraid to check his e-mail, because every time he did, he'd have more messages from people calling in sick.

Yesterday, we had a sizable amount of people missing in the Marching Band. We had one alto sax on the field. There were holes everywhere - and let me tell you, it is really freaking hard to "dress" (read: adjust your position so that you fit perfectly in the formation) the formations if there are holes.

Today, we still had a decent amount of people missing in U-Band, but not as many as Tuesday ("Anything is better than last time!", my director said). But later on in the day, I got an e-mail saying that tomorrow's marching band rehearsal had been cancelled; while it wasn't the only factor, one of the factors was that a whole bunch of people were sick. And G.I. Jane got an e-mail tonight that said that P.T. was cancelled for tomorrow, which sucks because she had a physical assessment on Monday.

And during the entire week, I've overheard people talking about how their classes have been cancelled because too many people called in sick, or because the teacher called in sick.

I think I'm safe for now, because, unlike the other dorms, we only have around thirty people or so - a very small pool of individuals, unlike the other, massive dorms with hundreds. The Dining Centers have been putting up little papers everywhere on the tables about the sick lunches (including two sets specifically made for those with the flu, one that is fluid-based and one that is more solid-based).

On a slightly related note (related in that it's about school), I met with my adviser today to talk about Spring Semester; since I'm in Honors, I get to have early registration, so I get to sign up for my classes on the 3rd of November instead of around Thanksgiving. Right now, I'm looking at Computer Science II and minoring in Space Studies. Having a minor in Space Studies allows you to take kickass classes like "Life Support Systems". Plus, it just sounds really cool to say, at the beginning of next year during band camp, "Yeah, I'm majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Space Studies".

I also found out that, for some reason, my AP test scores never made it to UND, which really pisses me off. There's NO WAY IN HELL that I'm taking English again, not after spending half of my English classes on writing essays about "What meaning does Author X convey using Rhetorical Strategy Y in Work Z?". NO FREAKING WAY. ...luckily, Mom had the transcript that was mailed to me from the AP people in July, made a copy, and mailed it off to UND. Take THAT!

I also, also found out that I have two academic advisers. I have one for Honors, who I already knew about and made my fall schedule with, and one for Computer Science, who I've never met because he's not one of the advisers present during freshman orientation.

As for the briefly-mentioned Disney paid internship...there's some problems with that. First off, paying for the plane tickets. Then, medical things - where would I get my allergy shot every two weeks? Where would I get my medications? And then, the fact that I'm making money means that I would get less on my FAFSA for 2011. AND, the co-op credit you get for it only covers the elective requirement - so I'd essentially be missing an entire semester's worth of classes, which means that I'd have to graduate a semester later. Furthermore, my elective requirement is covered by stuff in Computer Science, fun stuff like classes focused on making A.I. and working with physics engines used in video games. FYI, Band covers Arts and Humanities, IIRC.

Geez, things are really starting to pick up. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that I won't get the flu - that's the LAST thing I need right now!

Hahaha...ha...wait, they're serious?

One thing I kinda like about Gmail is the random "webclip" they have over my inbox. While it sometimes nets ads, it often has rather interesting news stories. But this one takes the cake.

World Not Ending in 2012, Says NASA

Oct. 22, 2009 -- Contrary to what you may read on the Internet, the world is not going to end in 2012. A rogue planet named Nibiru is not on a collision course with Earth. And a solar flare won't toast the planet.

It's all fiction, though the makers of the film "2012" may lead you to think otherwise.

"I don't have anything against the movie. It's the way it's been marketed and the way it exploits people's fears," NASA scientist David Morrison at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., told Discovery News.

Morrison has launched a counter-attack through his "Ask An Astrobiologist" online column, which he says has gotten more than 1,000 questions about the end of the world.

Scientific misinformation about 2012 has been ramping up for a few years, with more than 200 books and 1,000 Web sites purporting to explain various doomsday scenarios. Sony Pictures is behind a particularly viral campaign to build publicity for its upcoming apocalyptic movie "2012," which debuts on Nov. 13.

The company has set up an interlinked family of Web sites and Facebook pages to infuse a sense of reality to its fictional work.

The lead character in the film, played by actor John Cusack, for example, is the faux author of a faux book about a murder, conspiracy and disaster about the space shuttle Atlantis, which, coincidentally, is poised for launch on a space station construction mission the weekend the movie debuts.

The fictional fiction, named "Farewell, Atlantis," has a Web site, a Facebook page to follow "author appearances," fans and friends, a faux publisher with a faux Web site, a faux press release and endorsements from the very real son of the late Carl Sagan.

There's also a fake institute that presumably dispenses "real" science supporting the movie's claims, as well as a fake news website that distributes fake press releases about a fake aerospace company winning government contracts.

Warren Betts, owner of a California-based publicity firm that peddles real science stories tied to movies, says the type of marketing campaign Sony is executing for "2012" is nothing new.

"It's been done before," said Betts, citing the 1999 horror movie "The Blair Witch Project," a story about a group of amateur documentary film-makers who have a really bad couple of days in the woods.

"Some people went to that movie and they thought it was reality, that it was an actual documentary," Betts said.

Morrison says Sony has crossed a line with promoting "2012."

"I think people are really, really worried about the world coming to an end. Kids are contemplating suicide. Adults tell me they can't sleep and can't stop crying. There are people who are really, really scared," he said.

"People are very gullible," he added. "It's a sad testimonial that you need NASA to tell you the world's not going to end."

Courtesy of Discovery Channel.

That bolded statement summed it up before I could. It's like the Y2K bug...except that I was a kid when year 2000 started, so I don't remember any of it.

Faith in Humanity

LEFTIST NEWS NETWORK wants to battle!




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Balloons and Boys

But, my favorite is:

Because it truly illustrates how utterly ridiculous the average person's (and the media's) obsession with this was.

This has to be one of the fastest memes ever.

Three Things:

1.) Even though I'm in an Honors class in a public college, I'm not a rabid liberal. So don't come in and promote your anti-global warming organization. Seriously. I'm all for new technologies and new, better ways for doing things, but not for such political and biased reasons, and definitely not by destroying the livelihoods of others and driving costs through the roof. Just stop it.

2.) I'm really, really tempted to look into the Disney full-time paid internship that goes on for a semester, but that means a semester without band (as I wouldn't be at my college during this, I'd be somewhere else), and I'm not so willing to give that up.

3.) There are two topics on the Twilight Sucks forums about shitty "anime" (only calling it that because they were based off of actual anime series) that was spawned from studios in early 1990s for U.S. audiences. Thankfully, they never, ever, ever got aired. EVER. They were that bad.

So, being the sadistic bitch I am, I'm going to post two delightful videos.

What I like to call "D00zy b0tz", is an aberration vaguely, and I mean vaguely, based off of the old-school Gundam series.

How they got a bunch of stereotyped kids comically fighting evil robots from a dark anime series about war (the director wasn't nicknamed "Kill 'em all" for nothing) that helped spawn the "real robot" subgenre of humongous mecha, I have no idea. Also, you felt your soul dying when they mentioned "comedy" in the first two seconds or so, am I right?

It gets worse.

This one is personal, because it raped my childhood. And Mom's younger adulthood.

...yeah. Apparently, there was a fight between Saban (who made this abomination) and DiC (who made the bad-in-hindsight English dub) about the rights to Sailor Moon (of which the Japanese anime existed before this piece of shit was made). Obviously, Saban's version was so utterly bad that the original company handed it over to DiC. I can't watch it or even type this about it without spontaneously bursting into fits of laughing and crying at the same time. I'm dead serious, by the time I finish typing this, I'm going to have a six-pack. Of abs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I was bored, and I wanted a more coherent layout.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Women's Hockey

I played at my first women's hockey game today. While the sport itself is exactly the same, everything else around it is different.

First: There are, predictably, far fewer people. The grand attendance account for today's game was 311, not sure if it was including the band, which was only about 20 or so people, myself included. This was actually good thing - the fans consisted of sane people, not drunken fratboys, and the low numbers meant that we could not only hear each other, but any taunts or cheers we shouted could be heard.

Second: The fewer amount of people allowed for a far more laid-back feel in the band itself. We could actually joke around and such in a comfortable manner. I actually found the game more fun than the men's games because of this.

Third: What I found pretty cool was that in terms of cinematics, the women's game was the same. They had the same intro on the video screen as the men's team, except, obviously, with footage of the women's team kicking everyone's asses. I found that pretty cool.

Fourth: We the band got to play the national anthem.

Fifth: Because of the lack of people, our balance in our sound was way different. We had three clarinets (myself included), two flutes, three trumpets, two tubas, a bass drum, two snares, a few trombones, and a baritone or two. This meant that we didn't have the background support of the saxophones, and that us clarinets could actually be heard (SHOCKER!).

During the women's hockey games, there is a particular referee that older members of the band like, this guy named David Spivey, who according to band lore is the referee equivalent of Chuck Norris (his calls are instantly superior to that of the other refs, for instance), in part because he's the ref who escorts the players to the penalty box, but also in part because he's had actual conversations with band members during the game.

All in all, I enjoyed the game, and I was really happy that I signed up for all of them. Yes, ALL of them. Ok, except for the first two ones, 'cause I was in Minneapolis for Honors at the time.

Remember the hockey game I couldn't attend last night? It ended in a tie. Yes, you read that right, ENDED in a tie. In hockey, there is only one five-minute period of sudden-death overtime, and if no one scores, the game officially ends in a tie. This works because the hockey season consist of series: 2 points to the team who wins, one to both for a tie. Since we beat University of Minnesota on Friday, we still won the series against them, despite last night's game ending in a tie. Apparently, there was a LOT of drunk people there - I'm almost happy that I didn't go.

Also...a new Yu-Gi-Oh! movie was just announced for Japan. You thought a series about card games can't get any more cheesy? Think again. Even the voiced JAPANESE in this trailer is cheesy as hell, especially if you know the literal translation for some of what the guy's saying ("nakama" doesn't directly translate to "companions", it translates to something along the lines of a "family made of friends"; like a marching band, for instance).

First thought after watching this: LittleKuriboh MUST do an Abridged version of this once it gets English voices. Second thought: Are they running out of ideas or what?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sports of Yesterday and Today

...less dramatic than the title makes it seem.

Yesterday, we had the first long-awaited hockey match against University of Minnesota. These guys are absolutely vicious towards each other. This was evident even as I was making my way to the special band-and-VIP gate; three Minnesota fans were being escorted away from the UND fans by security before I was even inside the arena.

There were also numerous security guards inside the arena, too, a first, because I actually noticed how many there were. And upon coming into the arena proper an hour early, there were already people getting into their seats, rather unusual.

I also noticed that, for some bizarre reason, the display on our side of the arena had a strange anomaly.

See the pink part? WTF?

The rivalry stuff was going on before the game, too. Before any of the players were out, there were already people chanting and such.

The place was pretty damn packed.

Since I brought my heavy-duty camera with me, I figured that I might as well take some pics:

Our hockey players practicing before the game.

Their hockey players practicing before the game.

Both of the hockey teams practicing before the game.

My favorite hockey player, solely because of his awesome last name (which technically has no space between the two halves), which is very similar to mine. Second favorite? Hextall, because he's from Manhattan Beach, California. Nice to know that I'm not the only person here from the west coast area.

In terms of hockey playing, it was great, because we kicked their asses. Final score: 4-0. Wanna know how early it was in the game when we scored our first goal on them?

First period of the game, three minutes and twenty seconds in.

In terms of fans, noooot so much. First off, this group of morons just wouldn't sit down in front of us, obscuring the view for us band members, who were sitting down. Sorry, I'm not standing up the entire time. Second off, the roundabout in the second intermission had to have extra people for the sole purpose of pushing others out of the way. Apparently, one of the fans pushed aside decided to push back, and the clarinet player nearly decked him.

What had to have been the worst, though, were the chants. Or, rather, one specific chant: "FUCK THE GOPHERS". The Gophers were Minnesota's mascot, y'see. The Athletic Admistration doesn't like this chant one bit, so they asked us a few years back to chant over it (always just "LET'S GO SIOUX!" to the beat of a bass drum), and we've been doing it ever since. Some assholes this game decided to get smart about this after the fifth time or so and decided to start chanting "FUCK THE BAND!", which led to some very angry band members getting some security guards to haul them out. Ok, ok, I actually didn't see this myself (wrong side of the area), but I did see a very angry percussionist ask for a security guard to come and kick some drunken fratboy ASS. The assistant band director was NOT happy with the chant, in fact, she was very, very pissed off that they decided to insult us.

All in all, I was very, very tired after the game, so I took it upon myself to just get my stuff packed as quickly as possible, as usual, and leave. On the way back home, a pair of random guys was running in my direction on the sidewalk. One of them said, right before passing me, "Watch out for the cute girl!". Hey, I'm "cute"? Since when?

Today, we had a football game. Technically, we also had a hockey game, but I wasn't able to get signed up for it; all of the spots were full.

So I got up at 7:00, got ready, packed and all that crap, walked over the Hughes, dropped my stuff off, walked to Wilkerson, and got breakfast. Hey, it was a jelly-filled donut, but it's better than marching on an empty stomach, which really sucks.

Before the game, we practiced both pre-game and halftime. Because of the weather problems on Wednesday, we didn't have outdoor practice, so we were forced to do the Texas Tech show again. Which was a good thing, because we found out at the last minute that our halftime show will be televised in its entirety.

We played for the arrival of the team. Thankfully, my fingers weren't frozen stiff. Either it was a bit warmer outside, or I'm getting used to this weather. After that, we had lunch, which, strangely, consisted of baked potatoes and the things you put on them.

The one on the left had bacon, cheese, and chives. The one on the right had chili and chives. Side dish: broccoli. And yes, there's two cups of water there. The black stuff at the bottom of the picture? My leg(s), with the black marching pants on.

I myself have never had baked potatoes before, so this was interesting. Not that I had a choice. Since I knew that this lunch would have to tide me over 'till after the game, I got two potatoes. I got two cups of water because I figured that I should get both of them at once instead of inevitably drinking one dry and having to get up to get the other one.

After that, we played for the tailgaters. I have to say that I'm still not used to the fact that little kids love us. While we were marching and playing through the tailgaters (who were cheering like crazy), there were these two little kids following alongside us enthusiastically, one of them on roller skates. Still not used to it. I don't really consider myself a person to be idolized, y'know? I complain a lot, I cuss, I hate trying new things, my grades are (so far) average, my desk is a mess, and I don't even have a job. Not really a good role-model here. Go worship the band director.

Oh, speaking of which, after our meta-rehearsal, my band director had announcements. Which was odd, he usually leaves them for after the game. Turns out that he was extremely pissed off about the insults last night, too. He was happy about the fact that we didn't scream anything back, though. But, as a result, he told the Athletics department to shove off, because we're not playing over them anymore - he doesn't want the fans lashing out at us like they did last night, especially since the hockey band consists entirely of volunteers. Personally, I think that's a cop-out, but that could just be the patriotic military blood pumping through my veins - y'know, the stuff that says "HELL no we're not backing down!".

While we were sitting in the back, "waiting" for the time on the clock to get low enough to start pregame, President Kelley visited us (again!!!! He loves us!!!). Because he's awesome. He said he wanted to know, out of curiosity, where the heck we came from at the beginning of pregame, and what we did while we were waiting (several people were taking naps on the floor, but I slept sitting straight up while listening to music; the uniform jackets and pants have pockets). The man was wearing a pink shirt (for Breast Cancer Awareness month, they encouraged everyone to wear pink shirts) on top of all of his other clothes - apparently, while he was walking around the tailgate, a random guy told him that he wasn't dressed properly and put a pink shirt on him. Poor President said that he felt like some sort of Barbie doll. And then, with a smile, he left to go to the other side of the field to visit the other half of the band.

This must've been a big game, because there were cameramen on the field while we were getting on for pre-game. They filmed my line high-running on the field up-close and personal. Which means I'm on TV AGAIN.

Part of pre-game, obviously, is the singing (or playing) of the national anthem. I hate it when females try to sing it, because they always try to channel Celine Dion instead of actually singing the song like a normal person. Unfortunately, today's singer was female. Bleeeehhh. I wish I could sing it someday, my performance would be much more honest. And I can actually sing in tune, too (as demonstrated by University Band, in which we sing the tuning note before playing it; the singing is usually better than the playing, initially).

Remember that little mention about Breast Cancer Awareness?

They gave us free pink shirts!

We don't actually march like this, we get to take off our hats, jackets, and gloves in the stands.

Even the opposing team was in on it!

Halftime was...interesting. Because, as previously mentioned, we were being televised. Since I'm in the front during the first song, I had a freaking camera in my face for a little bit. I made it a special point to look at and only at the drum major and nothing else. Because good marching band members do that. "Rule 1: The Drum Major is always right. Rule 2: If the Drum Major is wrong, see Rule 1." Your eyes are either always on the drum major, or, for a second or so, on others around you so you can dress the formation. Oh, yeah, they got me on camera twice during the halftime show. That's a total of three times, assuming that they don't edit my copious appearances out.

The game itself sucked. We were up against Sioux Falls, and we got our asses kicked. The game wouldn't have been so bad if we lost gracefully, but noooo, it had to be missed passes, sucky defenses, and three freaking interceptions. WTF football team, WTF?

Here are some random pics with my super-duper-awesome camera:

They were in motion. Of course it's blurry.

And again.

What a penalty flag looks like up close. This caught my eye when I saw it bounce upon hitting the ground. A closer look reveals that it looks much like a badminton birdie.

Cheerleaders. They're actually pretty nice.

All in all, the game sucked, and it kinda reflected in our singing during one song of our endgame performance. Of course, there's also the fact that 99.9% of the band, myself included, hates the Beer Barrel Polka.

After getting back home, I futzed around on the computer a little bit before taking a shower and heading over to Wilkerson for dinner. Mom called me after I finished eating, and we talked on the way back. And then I turned to my long-forgotten love, Chao raising.

You might wonder where my username comes from.

Those cute little creatures at the bottom are Chao.

Chao are creatures in the Sonic Adventure (and to a lesser extent, Advance) series that you can raise as a result of getting animals and bringing them into the Chao Garden. In Sonic Adventure 1, they were an actual part of the plot, with the main "villain" of the game being a guardian of such creatures. In Sonic Adventure 2, the Alliance (as I like to call it) system was introduced, thus introducing Hero and Dark Chao.

Alliance depends on the character raising them: Chao raised by Hero characters become Hero Chao over time, Chao raised by Dark characters become Dark Chao over time, Chao raised equally by both become Neutral Chao.

Left to right: Standard Adult Hero, Neutral, and Dark Chao, respectively. Images courtesy of Chao Island, of course.

And then, you have variations on this based on the animals you give them. Certain animals will pertain to and boost certain stats - parrots raise the Flying stat, gorillas raise the Strength stat, otters raise the Swimming stat, etc..

Left to right: Hero Swimming Chao, Neutral Running Chao, Dark Flying Chao (my favorite out of all of them, hence the "evil" in my name)

Why did I get back into this? Well, I realized that there was just one thing I didn't do in Sonic Adventure 2. I got all 180 Emblems, sure. A-ranks on all missions. Beat all the Chao Races and Chao Karate levels. Made two Chao with Lv.99 in each stat. But I didn't do one thing.

I didn't get these guys!

So now I'm back to do that. Ought to be much fun - I was already gushing over how cuuuuuute my little baby Chao were a few hours ago.