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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I love band.

I've already probably made a post with this title, but I'm going to do it again, just to spite you. Muahaha.

Today was pretty much just building up to the concert I have for University Band, a kind of "midterm", if you will.

Our rehearsal was in the Chester Fritz Auditorium, where we would have our concert. Before and after rehearsal, I managed to get some pictures.

This is what it looks like on stage!

What the audience section looks like. This place is freaking HUGE. Again, sorry about the blurriness.

This is a better picture, if a little slanted.

What the seats look like from the stage. The man in white is my band director for University Band, Dr. Popejoy, who is also the band director for the Wind Ensemble. He likes seeing those "I love band" smiles, and often has one on his face himself.

This auditorium is big enough to make 400 seated people look minuscule, as my band director was quick to point out, so we don't feel bad because "not that many" people came.

I walked home, stayed there for fifteen minutes or so, and then went to eat dinner, backpack with concert clothing in tow. After finishing the complete mind screw of a book known as "Atmospheric Disturbances" for my Honors class, I turned back to Monster Hunter International. I found what HAD to have been a Sluggy reference on page 361:

A man should always have access to emergency pants.

Pure gold, right there. I can just picture the comic strip in my head, too. LOL, evil clothes-eating moths of doom.

I got back to the auditorium really early, which was good because it gave me time to change into my concert attire and my BRAND SPANKING NEW KNEE-HIGH BOOTS. And then I took out my clarinet. Since I still had a ton of time, I was bored, so I decided to see what I could remember of the new show's music.

As it turned out, I remembered pretty much all of it.


Once the time had come, we all got on stage and started warming up. I was starting to finally feel nervous, because I just realized that if the recording equipment was really sensitive, it would pick up every mistake anyone would make - and I wanted this to sound good for Mom, so that she would actually enjoy the music on the audio DVD I plan on sending her.

We started off with the Chicago Tribune March by Chambers. This has to be least favorite song I played. First off, the entire thing is in 6/8. This generally renders all of the eighth notes as triplets. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that, second off, the song is pretty damn fast. Now I have to play triplets fast. Oh joy.

After that, Journey of Exploration by Goto, which is a rather exotic one. It likes to change time a LOT, and at one point in the piece, it switches from 2/4 time to 6/8 time every measure. What's really cool about it is that the majority of it is in 3/4...ok, that's only part of it. The truth is that while the page says 3/4, in reality, those playing the melody are playing in 3/4 while those in the background are playing triplets in 6/8. AT THE SAME TIME. It's so utterly brilliant.

And then, another really cool one, Sinfonia XVI: Transcendentalist Vienna by Broege. This one is in four movements, all majorly varying in feel. The first one, "Star-gazing: Aldebaran", is rather dark and is in 4/2. Think about this for a moment - there are four beats in a measure, but the half note gets the beat, meaning that half notes are like quarters, quarters are like eighths, and eighths are like sixteenths (the 1st and 2nd clarinets were not happy, since they had eighth notes). That took a while getting used to, but it sounds so damn cool. The second one, "Incantation", is pretty weird, too. It's in 12/8, and the parts of the 2nd and 3rd clarinets overlap exactly, forming a harmony over a rather fast melody. The third was stuck in my head all day, "Waltz", which is Exactly What it Says on the Tin. It's a 3/4 waltz, and it got stuck in my head, dammit. For most of the song, we play beats two and three, but later on, we 3rds get the melody. Sweet! The last one, "Star-gazing: Sirius", varies in mood within itself, starting and ending with a rather bleak theme with a jazzish theme going on in the middle of the song. The starting theme is reminiscent of the last few measures of the first movement, and the ending theme has some pretty kickass dissonance in it. Overall, this entire piece is something different, and I really loved playing it. That and the Goto.

The next piece was a transcription (meaning it was originally written for something else, but got arranged and re-written for band) and compilation of one of my favorite pieces ever, a cut-down version of The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. After playing Berceuse and Finale in high school with the wind orchestra, I fell in love with it. I love this piece so much that I actually started getting choked up while playing the end of it. Specifically, the parts after and including when the song goes into 7/4 from Finale, which I listened to repeatedly on my iPod while I was in high school. Let me tell you, trying not to cry in front of four hundred people while playing one of your favorite parts in musical history is very, very, VERY difficult.

We ended with Declaration, Ballade, and Finale by Huckeby, which is three movements pretty much stuck together. Declaration I don't like very much, mainly because we primarily have 32nd-note-runs. You thought sixteen notes were fast, try thirty-seconds. They suck. Ballade is really nice. We third clarinets have the background part, which is really nice and in 3/4. Finale is freaking AWESOME, though. We get the kick-ass melody part, along with the trumpets. Later on in the piece, it switches to 2/2, while keeping the same tempo in the 4/4 segments (so the director is pretty much conducting in cut-time, with the players pretty much playing in it, too).

I really, really enjoyed playing tonight. I love doing this. I don't know why I love doing this, and from a career sense, it makes little sense (I'm a Computer Science major and I don't plan on playing professionally), but I love playing music. Absolutely love it. It's my life.

We got to go in the seats to listen to the Wind Ensemble after us. The Wind Ensemble is audition-only, and very elite. Let me put it this way - the University Band takes anyone, and I am only a third clarinet. There's no way in hell I would've been able to get into the Wind Ensemble this year. Absolutely no way. Listening to them, their clarinet players are insane goddesses; their fingers move effortlessly over their keys (and, funny thing is, they move a lot while they're playing, too, just like me). They have a sense of musical balance that I can only DREAM of achieving. And the songs they play are very, very long - meaning that they have a lot of stamina.

This was slightly marred by the fact that some fucking ASSHOLE was whispering loudly to who I assume was his bitch of a girlfriend, who was TEXTING ON HER PHONE. I wanted to kick his ass, and so did some of the other band members, who joined me in sending some extra-strength death glares at them. This guy was in an entirely different section than me and I could hear him. I really wish Mom was here, she would've SO chewed him out, the bastard. Do you have any idea how hard it is to listen to Der Traum des Oenghus, Teil I, Op.37 while you hear someone's whispers over the beautiful clarinet and flute melodies?

I later found out that the President of the University (who also happens to play trombone) was, yet again, present at the concert, when my band director pointed him out at the end of the concert for applause. Seriously, how many times have I been in the same room as that man? He goes to all of the hockey games. He goes to all of the football games. He apparently comes to all of our concerts. He paid for the Texas Tech trip so we didn't have to (not to mention came himself and watched our halftime show in the VIP press box). His house is next to the Hughes Fine Arts Center and across the street from the Chester Fritz Auditorium. He must worship the band, and I greatly respect him for consistently coming to venues where we perform. It's nice having the support of someone so awesome.

Last several days: Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday wasn't really strange, either. Since the Wind Ensemble was on tour, we had a sub for University Band; had we had more than two rehearsals a week, he would've canceled it. The sub was a real trooper, considering how complex the music is in terms of tempo and time.

Tuesday was NOT normal in one way: I got to go winter-clothes-shopping-lite. A girl who plays the Trumpet, eternally named Trumpet Chick from now on, offered to help me out, since she has a car and is made of awesome. After she dropped me off at my dorm with her number and a reassurance that she'll be available an hour from then, I went to dinner and ate, then came back, did my laundry, and got picked up. So we went to the nearest Payless, for the main reason that the upcoming band concert was in two days and I found out that I no longer had my awesome knee-high formal boots that saved me from having to wear that evil panty-hose. Since Payless was where I got such boots in the first place, we went there to get replacements. This particular store was in the Columbia Mall, a local mall (obviously), with a really nice, warm exterior. I'm used to malls having tons of skylights, but this one was just warm and nice - it reminded me of somewhere pleasant that I just couldn't put my finger on. No pics, though, sorry.

Luckily, within a few minutes, I found an awesome pair of black, knee-high formal boots with a heel that wasn't smaller than my thumb for once. Shopping here also had the bonus of stocking winter boots (in the men's section) that I could wear. The ones I got had the nifty features of being waterproof and protecting my footsies up to -22 degrees F.

And then we went to Wal-Mart. I got new regular shoes (since my old ones were really, really worn out after all of those hours of walking and marching), warm mittens that actually protected my hands, long underwear (four pairs!), undershirts (also four), and a Poke'mon card booster pack (of course).

Let's just say that I was really, really happy.

Yesterday, we were supposed to be outside for marching band. The persistent sleet prevented that, despite the fact that on Saturday, my band director said that we'd be outside, rain or shine. So we just practiced music. Judging by my "warm-up", I have all of the music for our show memorized. The problem with our music rehearsal was that it pretty much meant that we could kiss the idea of playing the new show next Saturday good-bye. We'll be playing the normal show on Saturday.

Anime club was awesome, as usual. We voted for the anime for next semester (they didn't vote for Full Metal Panic!, those bastards). Basically, the next two animes we'll be watching involve steampunk planes and making fun of space operas.

As I came outside to catch the night shuttle, I found that freaking snow, which had persisted throughout the day, was sticking. TWO WEEKS INTO OCTOBER AND WE HAVE STICKING SNOW, PEOPLE. It was equivalent to snow that Mom and I got in Las Vegas last December.

...and then I came home and crashed. Again.

Last several days: Sunday and Monday

Sunday, I pretty much did nothing. I vegged out in front of the computer doing nothing.

Monday was pretty normal, except that I didn't have band. Computer lab was great, it involved taking our Turtle graphic coding, and, using a modified version of that, write commands into a text file. Then code a program that would read the lines of the text file to make graphics using the Turtle coding.

Less complicated than it sounds, really.

The last several days: Saturday

Saturday was very eventful.

First off, G.I. Jane wasn't around because she was at her uncle's. Which left me alone.

Second, I WANTED to go eat breakfast, but there was a small problem:

My wallet was missing. And with it, my ID. Which I had to use to get my food at a dining center.

This sucked, because I was going to go march. Marching uses up a lot of energy in your body. Marching on an empty stomach sucks.

Because of this, I was noticeably lethargic and grumpier. The last place I remembered seeing my wallet was at the game the night before, which I obviously used to get some ice cream. This led to Gun Chick and the assistant director reassuring me that someone probably found it at the Ralph and turned it into the lost and found there. Because this is North Dakota, and people don't keep wallets when they find them.

To top it off, I didn't bring my backpack with me on the bus, which had my jackets in there. This apparently wasn't good, because we had to go outside and play for the team, and, later, the tailgaters. And it was cold outside.

I didn't have any problems aside from my hands, though (there's nothing you can do about that). Marching and playing, even if it's only in a parade formation, keeps me plenty warm underneath my marching jacket.

Pregame went well. This time, someone sang the national anthem, and was actually pretty good at it. For some reason, guy singers tend to refrain from imitating Celine Dion.

It was us against the Wolves from Stony Brook. We played half-time, again, our normal show. There were cameramen on the field, on the sidelines, at least. Remember that video with us in it? That was taken at that half-time. I'm in the very front during the beginning of the first song.

At the end of the game, I really had to scramble to get home, take a shower, and get into my hockey uniform. I left fifteen minutes late, but I only had to walk to the Ralph, so I was fine.

Something really funny and/or bizarre on the way there. On the way back from the game, it was snowing on-and-off. When I left, it wasn't snowing.

Halfway there, I noticed little flakes hitting me AGAIN. God, even my band director says the snow is early. Out of sheer blind luck, the iPod I was listening to, out of 115 or so other songs on the playlist, chose the Pretear opening thene. Which starts out as:

(translated into English)
I'll be reborn as a new me in this sky that spreads into the endless future
I'll show you the snow of happiness falling all over the world

C'mon, that has to be more than a coincidence.

(and as I'm typing about this, iTunes happens to choose this song out of the playlist and play it. This song is possessed or something.)

I went to the lost-and-found for the Ralph and found that my wallet was there, entirely intact. Thank goodness. I celebrated the occasion by getting more ice cream.

We were up against Merrimack again, but didn't do as well. We still won, though.

After that, I went home and crashed.

The last several days: Friday

Friday was a strange day. I woke up with a piercing headache, but attributed that to lack of food (I ran out of cereal, but I can't work my extremely tight morning schedule to great breakfast at Memorial). I had a sudden burst of inspiration in Computer Science while taking notes, and coded the prototype version of a program that would allow me to choose a Poke'mon team at random (which was later altered and fixed thanks to TD of Unforgiving Minute - thanks bunches!). Space Studies was normal, I really, really wanted to go to lunch.

Ate a huge lunch, switched my stuff out at home, literally ran into Pre-Calc one minute before I was supposed to be there. More trigonometry. I started having problems, though. My mind was fuzzy, and I felt tired, but not "ate a lot of food" tired. I felt like I had the "sinuses are clogged" tired. It was coming to the point where I couldn't concentrate any more and decided right then and there that I'd rather go home than sit through Honors and try to keep up with discussion with my fuzzy head.

So I went home after finishing my quiz, got into a nightgown, and proceeded to take a four-hour nap (since we had rehearsal on Thursday, there wasn't any on Friday), which is pretty strange since I haven't taken any kind of naps since Band Camp in August.

I woke up at 4:30ish, feeling much better, but still not at 100% (more like 85%). Nevertheless, hockey band awaited me, and I couldn't sign myself off of the list at this point unless it was an emergency.

Before the game, I took an opportunity to get some ice cream at one of the TCBYs at the stadium. Miiint. I love it.

What's that about it being blurry? I was taking it with one hand, and it's a heavy camera! Sheesh!

We were up against Merrimack this time, whose asses we thoroughly kicked. It was something like 5-2. A great game.

By the way, I have pictures:

As you can see, it's 64 minutes and 54 seconds until the game starts. Hence why the bright lights aren't on yet. Also, the screen is showing the Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees baseball game. Since North Dakota doesn't have a team, and since the Minnesota sports teams tend to have UND alumni (one of them is in the Minnesota Vikings, and, no, it's not that asshole Favre), they worship the Twins and Vikings. Imagine their dismay when they found out in the middle of the hockey game that the Twins lost. People here, even in band, regularly talk about sports. The people here are really sports-crazy. Also, sorry about the blurryness, my hands aren't the steadiest.

This pic, thankfully, isn't blurry. See all those seats? Pretty much all of those will be full by the end of the first period, at the latest.

Aaaand this one is blurry, AGAIN. The person in the image is one of the saxophone players. He's cool.

This is the side opposite from us. The entrances nearest the ice are where the hockey players come out. The one nearest the center is where our team comes out.

More seats up above. The same sax player is in the pic, and to the right is GunChick, another clarinet player, moving out of the way quickly after realizing that I was trying to take a picture.

Banners with UND's many titles, specifically their WCHA titles.

The players out and practicing on the ice.