Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dr. Phil is a Tool.

No really. Do some research.

Why don't I just list the various reasons here? Because people retain knowledge better that they have learned through their own methods. So, look him up. He's a tool. I specifically started disliking him after hearing his theories on language acquisition.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yay Civil Rights!

So my friend's husband wrote a blog post as to the reasons why he is opposed to gay marriage. I wrote a reply and decided to copy and paste my reply on my own blog because I hadn't posted anything in a while. I am too crazy busy with school and work to post much, but I want to remember this era in the future and I want my kids to someday read my blog and know how I felt as Proposition 8 (and other anti-civil rights laws) passed. I am too busy to amend my notes so that they stand alone, so I have posted a link to the original blog post below.

1-I agree that the battle will not end in your lifetime, just as laws protecting the rights of minorities are strong, however, the KKK still exists. I do however believe that people are moving towards Gay rights. If you compare the percentage with which Prop 8 passed only a few years ago to the percentage that it passed this year, you will find that it is getting MUCH closer to passing, and I believe other states will follow suit within 20 years. Worst case, within 40. But that is just my own opinion. (hereafter, I will put MOO, after things that are my own opinion. And then giggle a little bit, about the MOO sound)

2 Marriage does not hinge upon the fact that people are exclusive sex partners. Affairs do not always, nor (MOO) should they, cause a divorce. Also, any sort of online search will bring up, without getting vulgar, many websites, not just swinging ones, which are specifically designed to help couples (yes, even married ones) explore sexual experiences outside of the the "traditional role."

3 Marriage should NOT have anything to do with making babies. If I were to become a single Mom, I KNOW I would be an amazing, loving, fit parent. Should society have any say about that? Your reasoning allows a slippery slope. If society has a say in marriage and marriage has to do with making babies...then shouldn't society have the right to insist I am married before I have a child? And that leads to all sorts of futuristic scary thoughts. Mandatory birth control? Mandatory abortions? Taking children away from non-married people? (You think I'm overreacting, but they DID in the past take children away from mixed-race couples, and the future (MOO and many other peoples' opinion as well) will draw many parallels between the gay rights fight for equality and the civil rights movement)

4 Again, Marriage should NOT be an institution of procreation. Scenario: I am married. My husband and I cannot have children or do not want to have children. Is our marriage any less valid because of that? Should we have a civil union?

(Tangent note. I invite people who say that gays should be happy with having a civil union to imagine the above scenario. Think about you and your partner not being able to have children. Then imagine that relegating you to the realm of having a civil union. Doesn't it make you feel a little sick?)

5 OK, ok, but AGAIN, Marriage should not have ANYTHING to do with having babies. That's what it was in the past, just basically a chance for dudes to get laid, people to gain prestige and yay! make babies. Love hasn't really been a deciding factor in marriage since the past 100 years, no matter what "First Knight" wants you to believe. Isn't that amazing? I think of myself 200 years ago. I would have been married by now, to someone my father picked out, no doubt, someone I barely knew, and I would have probably gotten married at age 16 or 17. My job would be to keep house and make babies. Doesn't your heart warm at the thought that now, we have the chance to marry for no other reason than that another person makes us happy? Not to unify feuding clans, not to earn our parents' a dowry, not to secure our future, but just because we want to be with someone, because we want to make them happy and because they make us hapy. This is not something that takes anything AWAY from hetero marriage, this does not in any way diminish hetero marriage, as so many people feel it does, but allows more people to make that commitment to each other, solely because they love each other.

6 Legal Issues have been brought up. You don't think there were legal issues that needed to be re-worded after the civil war? If it's worth doing (MOO) and it is, then the lawyers will figure it out. And many of the legal issues you brought up have already been solved, quite easily. For example, "What if one partner in a same-sex couple decided to be in vitro fertilized and thus had a baby? Would that child legally belong to both or only one partner in the couple?" This happens all the time with hetero couples, when a man can't conceive and the wife is in vitro fertilized. The child is not biologically related to the father, but that man is STILL THE FATHER. The other legal issues are just as easily fixed and/or have already been accounted for in the legal system.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


My roommate, Ryan, started painting a few weeks ago, (see previous post about apartment redecoration) and it really inspired me. My mom had some coupons to an art store and I set myself up with all the supplies I need, at 40% off, no less. This weekend I should have been studying for a test, and instead I spent, probably 15 hours painting this below. The photo doesn't really give it justice, it looks a lot better in person.

I really liked making it, and I think it was a good first try. I already have a plan for what I want to paint next time I have a weekend without too much to do I'll get on that. Don't hold your breath though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is this only interesting to me?

Only a small percentage (less than 3%) of the words we use today were used in Old English times (~500 AD to 1066 AD) but that small percentage of words are our most commonly used words. For example, of the 100 most commonly used words, ~95 of them are Old English. Below I've listed the top ten most used words in English,


I find it interesting that "you" is number 8, while "I" comes in 20th place ("my" at 81). "He" comes in 11th ("his" at 18th) and "she" doesn't get used till number 46 ("her" #62).

One more interesting fact, quoted from "The Adventure of English," by Melvyn Bragg

"We shall fight on the beaches," said Churchill in 1940, "we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." Only "surrender" is not Old English. That, in itself might be significant."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Novel Portion One

Well, I've been talking about this novel I wrote, and its awesomeness for a while. I figured I would post just the first couple pages for here they are. Enjoy. Especially if you have friends who are publishers.

A Novel By Sara Allsop

“Guns and Hooch!” The shout of a young man cut through the winding of the conveyor belt and the shuffle of packages en route from Lincoln, Nebraska to River Falls, Wisconsin. An idling semi cut its engine just as Joyce looked up to see her co-worker, James, proudly holding up a package. “Guns and Hooch!” he shouted again as he walked the ten yards separating them. Clint appeared after James, ducking out of his truck, as he followed curiously.
James plopped the evidence on the conveyor and stepped back. The box was made of dull brown cardboard and taped shut with clear packing tape, the corners were dented and scuffed, in fact the only unique thing about it was that it was addressed to a business which apparently sold alcohol to men and women with firearms.
“Am I lost?” Joyce asked. “Did this FedEx building get moved to Louisiana last night?”
“Louisiana isn’t the only place with hicks, we’ve got them here in our very own…” James paused and twisted the box, “Napp, Wisconsin.” He cradled his prize in his arms.
"Hey that's a lot better than Kay's Kennel and Video Rental," Clint said. The three of them had a running contest going as to whose truck would deliver packages to the strangest businesses. Sometimes it was something as simple as a Horse Supply Store on Elmer Lane, or a box that stated on the outside of it, “Do not deliver if recipient is intoxicated.” Joyce had found one a few weeks ago that she thought would be a winner forever; it was the strange business that thought that two stops to kennel your dog and rent a video was one stop too many.
“Next we'll find a business called Day Care and Poisonous Chemical Storage!” Joyce said.
“You know what they need?” Clint asked, “an aspirin and arsenic factory!”
“No, they need Monster Truck racing and lace doily supplies.” James added.
“Watch out for my hypodermic needle and crackerjack factory!” Joyce shouted.
The ideas continued as they went back to work, each trying to outdo each other in putting together the most outlandish business ideas they could. Joyce giggled to herself the rest of the day, even after everyone else had left the building by eight o’clock, thinking up other strange business combinations. The truck drivers arrived just after eight and pulled out with sagging shocks from their bulging trucks. Joyce heaved the heavy rusted warehouse doors shut behind them, nearly tripping when they caught on some uneven metal. She coughed out the diesel smoke and sat down in the small office to take her lunch, well breakfast, break. At noon she was finished with office work and began to clear her desk of papers, packing tape and mailing labels.
It was strange. Every morning that Joyce woke up for work she swore that today was going to be the last day that she worked at this horrific job. She would push back the covers in the pitch black night, leave the heavy heat of her bed to pull on some jeans and a hooded sweatshirt so she could fall asleep on the toilet. Why had she gotten a job that started at 3:30 a.m.? Now though, like every day, when she clocked out she wasn’t the least bit tired, she was pleased that she had pulled herself out of bed one more time.
Joyce grabbed her coat and tied it around her waist. She locked up the building as she left and started walking home. Joyce often took the 20 minutes it took to walk home to figure out exactly how much money she would have saved before she went back to school in five months. She was still paying off student loans from her Bachelors degree in English, but those payments were small and she could stop paying them as soon as she was re-enrolled in a Master’s Program. Joyce had been accepted to Madison University a month ago and classes started in September, meaning that she would only have to work this job a few more months full-time before she could cut back to part-time during school. That was still a long time to work at a dead-end job like this. Especially considering that she had a college degree. But she did like her co-workers, the pay was really good, and even though the hours were strange, she was sort of used to it by now. She still couldn't wait to go back to school. Then she wouldn’t have to just take a box from one place and put it in a different place for a living. She could actually do what she wanted to do, edit books.
She strolled down the street, daydreaming about helping an author get a book published. Joyce imagined there wasn’t any greater thrill than walking into a bookstore and seeing a book you had helped to create sitting there on the shelf. Unless it was someone purchasing that book. And maybe seeing it get a really good review in the New York Times Book Review. Or maybe that book winning an award and selling a million copies.
Joyce daydreamed about it, walking casually until she reached a house and couldn't help but notice the lawn. There were deep furrows in the grass, and mud tracked across the sidewalk and front walkway. It was as though a truck had backed right up against the front door.
Joyce looked up and down the street. There wasn’t anyone else out on the street and the house across the way had its blinds drawn. She wondered if anyone was looking out their front windows. She peered at the suspicious house again and then walked up the walkway purposefully, listening for a dog bark, a radio playing, or other signs of occupancy. She changed direction at the last minute to sidle to the side and peek in the front windows. She now saw why a truck had felt the need to pull up on the lawn, there was a shiny new piano sitting in the middle of the room, out of place like a pregnant nun at a Halloween party that no one else dressed up for. The furniture surrounded it, having been pushed out of place for its entrance. She could imagine the other furniture eyeing the piano askance, refusing to invite it into conversation and glancing at it snobbishly. The piano seemed to curve downward slightly in the middle, its rich brown shoulders hunched. Joyce knew that if it was possible, it would slump over to the snack bar and stand there in the corner sipping punch and keeping a sharp eye out for a friendly face.
Joyce imagined what she would do if she had a piano. She wouldn’t leave it out in the middle of the room, out of place like that. She would have a place made ready for it and the room would be built around it. It would have a nice lace runner to lie across the top of it and the bench would be filled with books full of sheet music from the likes of Chopin to Ben Folds Five. It would probably go where she had the television right now. Joyce mused over that for a while. No doubt that would create jealousy between them, and if anything, she wanted a happy piano and a happy T.V. Maybe they could be friends.
Joyce had always wanted to play the piano. It began when she was in the musical, “Brigadoon,” in high school, playing the role of third vegetable cart worker and they had rehearsed their songs to the music of a piano. The teacher had sat down at the bench, glanced over the music and then began playing. He carelessly looked from the music back to the students, listening for notes sung off-key and watching for dance missteps. His casual fingers had moved up and down the keys effortlessly, creating such a full and rich sound that when the inexperienced and tiny pit band took over, the group of 11 musicians had been no match for the music the piano had put out.
Joyce imagined herself sitting at a piano in front of a huge stage. She walked on with a backup band already set up and waiting for her. She sat down and adjusted the bench slightly, the crowd silent. She lifted her fingers to the keys and began to play, a simple tune, but one that the crowd recognized instantly. They began to roar in approval while the band joined, before long they were jamming together, she was pounding on the piano, effortlessly singing her heart out. So what if the song she imagined she had written in her head was actually an Elton John song? She could pretend she had written it all she wanted while-a car horn honked in her ear- knocking her over. She jumped up from the bushes, heart beating and stumbled quickly onto the front stoop trying to look innocent. She grabbed some leaves from out of her hair as she twisted around to see James sitting in his car in the driveway a few feet away smiling and raising one hand in a lazy wave.
Joyce took a deep breath. It was amazing how much the brain could pack in the short second it took her ears to hear the car horn to the time it took her eyes to see and register James. Her brain had already seen an angry house owner on a cell phone to the police, getting out of a truck purposefully with a bat in hand. In her mind she was already running halfway down the sidewalk, when her brain registered the harmlessness of James.
She shook her head at James and stalked towards his door as he laughed at her panic.
“Get out of here!” She shooed him away. “What if the owners come out?”
“Oh,” he said. He settled back casually and made no effort to put his car in reverse. “I thought it might be your house you were peeking in so sneakily.”
“Back up!” Joyce could just imagine the same angry house owner coming out now, having been woken up from a hang-over by the blast of a car horn to find two strangers chatting it up in his driveway.
“Get in, and I will.”
Joyce ran around and hopped in the passenger seat, shutting the door quickly and looking behind her as James backed up.
“What are you doing anyways?” Joyce asked.
“I was at the store, and on my way home, and who should I see but Joycie-poo peering in people’s windows like a criminal.” James pulled out of the driveway and paused in the middle of the street. “Where to?”
“My house is down that way,” Joyce pointed.
“How long have you been walking home from work?” James asked.
“I always walk to work.”
“You weirdo, you should have told someone you needed a ride. Is your car in the shop?”
“No, turn left here.”
“How come you’re walking to work then?”
“I don't have a car because I'm trying to save money.”
James shook his head as he turned at the stop sign. “and what were you doing peering in some stranger’s window?”
Joyce laughed. She had hoped that he had forgotten about that.
“They had these huge ruts in the lawn and I wanted to see why. Then I saw that they had a piano inside and I’ve always wanted to play the piano.”
“And you don’t?”
“No. Sadly.”
“Why not?”
“A number of reasons, A, I’m not going to live in one place long enough to make it worthwhile to buy a piano, and you can’t very well take lessons if you don’t have a piano at home to practice on. And B, I hate keyboards, so I’m not about to play one of those things, ergo C, I don't play the piano.”
“Why not a keyboard?”
“One, the keys feel different; two, a really nice one is almost as expensive as a used-piano anyways; and three, they seem tacky, like, someone with real skill wouldn’t be caught dead using one.”
“Yeah, I see that." James thought about it, "you don’t want to just suck it up and practice on one for a while…” James trailed off as Joyce shook her head menacingly at him. “Well, good luck with that then.”
After another offer to drive her to work in the morning was refused James drove off waving out the window with a yell to see her tomorrow.
Joyce pulled out her keys and glanced in the upstairs windows as she walked up to “Joel’s Chicken Emporium.” The smell of fried chicken wafted out and people chatted on benches out front. The sign painted on the window proclaimed, “Drive-Through Soon to be 24 hours!”
“Great,” she thought, “now the speaker box will be as loud as hell all night, instead of stopping at eleven o’clock.” She walked around the back of the restaurant and climbed up a set of stairs to her apartment. She wondered to herself if her roommates Megan or Cinnamon would be home.
Cinnamon was in college, going to be a psychologist. Her parents had been hippies, which explained her unique name. She had 2 brothers separately named Sky and Freedom and a sister named Ingrid Sun Flower. Cinnamon had been dating a guy named Bryce for going on three years and they were probably going to get married pretty soon. Cinnamon speculated that it would happen after she graduated with her Masters this upcoming fall.
Megan was the type of person who intimidated most people at first, she seemed vain and a little stand-offish, but was just confident in a world of insecure women. She especially intimidated men, or at least that was the only reason that Joyce could think of that she was currently and often single. She was tall, skinny, blond and often referred to as, “the hot friend.” She was in her second year of teaching third grade at the elementary school across town.
Joyce pushed open the door of the apartment and gagged immediately. It was as though she had walked into a wall of stench. There was a haze of smoke drifting on the ceiling that flowed out lazily into the fresh air. She pulled her shirt up over her nose and stepped back. She glanced around looking for the source of the smell. Judging by the scent she should look for a woman who had permed her hair and set herself on fire. Joyce left the door wide open, held her breath and stepped back into the apartment and past the entry-way closet to see both Megan and Cinnamon. Megan was frantically bent over the vacuum waving at it with a notebook. Cinnamon struggled with the window in the kitchen, trying to pry it open.
“What happened?” Joyce asked.
“The vacuum started on fire and Megan didn’t turn it off!” Cinnamon shouted as though the smoke filled room had somehow interfered with her ability to hear.
Joyce was surprised that the dinosaur vacuum they had gotten from the Salvation Army had lasted this long. It had been ancient when they bought it two years ago after moving in together. She smiled and laughed out loud. The window flew upwards with a bang and Cinnamon leapt back as she began giggling as well. Megan looked sheepishly around and took a shallow breath of air. She said to Cinnamon, “Mmmm, nothing like the smell of burnt rubber and frying chicken to create an atmosphere of romance for your date tonight.”
“Are you kidding me? I’ll make Bryce take me out, I can’t eat here.” Cinnamon said.
“Leaving Megan and I, yet again to eat alone, our only company this delightful smell.” Joyce said. “I walked in and my first thought was that someone had permed their hair and then set themselves on fire. But I think now that I’ve had a chance to fully appreciate the smell, it’s more like…no, I think that’s still a pretty good description of what it’s like.”
Megan paused and smelled the air tentatively. “You know, it does kind of smell like that.”
Joyce had an idea for something that might help. She ran back into the bathroom and began rummaging around the back of the drawers. She was looking for some perfume she had gotten as a present once. She didn’t like the smell enough to wear it, but it would do for now. She ran back out into the living room and sprayed it liberally on her finger, then wiped it underneath her nose. She took a tentative sniff with Megan and Cinnamon watching and then smiled. "You can still smell it a little bit, but it helps." Joyce passed the perfume to Cinnamon while Megan hefted up the sizable vacuum and carried it outside.
“At least we can stink up the restaurant instead of them stinking us up all the time.” Megan seemed pleased at the role reversal and took her turn with the perfume, spraying it almost directly up her nose.
They forced the rest of the windows open and Cinnamon switched on the ceiling fan. Even after everything they did, the smell was too overpowering. The perfume only lasted a few moments and then the burnt perm smell began to come back. In fact, after she had re-applied It three times, Joyce was beginning to wonder which was worse. Who had gotten her this designer imposter perfume anyways? It had to be someone who she didn’t know very well, and someone who was fairly cheap as well. A gift with the price printed right on it in permanent ink didn't exactly spell classy. Joyce tossed the spray can of $4.95 perfume back and forth in her hands. It had probably been one of those secret Santa presents at some place she had worked at a few years back. No one ever knew what to get each other so they got severely gender stereotyped gifts. Gifts like scented hand lotion or Terminator III on DVD. Joyce stopped thinking about it as she noticed Cinnamon pick up the cordless phone, then pause and look back towards Joyce and Megan.
“Why don’t we all go out for dinner tonight?” Cinnamon suggested. Joyce nodded her head in agreement, the idea of eating any food while remaining in the apartment made her want to retch.
As they gathered up their coats and purses Cinnamon asked, “Hey, I forgot to tell you, Bryce has a performance tonight, do you guys want to come? Otherwise I’ll have to sit alone.”
“Oh, his comedy thing?” Joyce asked.
“Yeah, you guys should really come and maybe we can find you some hot dates.”
“I’d like to,” Megan sighed, “but I’ve got about fifty spelling tests to grade and I’m getting evaluated soon so I’ve got to get ready for that, I can’t do anything but dinner.”
“It’s a Friday night!” Cinnamon protested.
“I know, but I’m visiting my family tomorrow and I want to be able to have fun with them without worrying about tests or anything.”
“Excuses,” sighed Cinnamon as she looked at Joyce accusingly.
“If you promise not to try and set me up with any ‘really hot dates’ then I’ll go with you,” Joyce answered. Cinnamon was always trying to set her up on dates, and while she had been excited about it the first few times they always flopped. She was too nervous and stiff with people she didn’t know. When she did meet someone she was interested in she wooed him by ignoring him, stuttering, and avoiding him whenever he came close for fear of saying something stupid. It wasn’t the best strategy, she knew, but it was all she had. She had told Cinnamon a few weeks ago that she had given up on blind dates, and looking for a boyfriend in general and was focusing on other things right now. Her theory had been that as soon as she stopped looking, the perfect guy would come along. So far it hadn’t been working, but she wasn’t about to say anything out loud for fear of another blind date night.
“Great!” Cinnamon dialed a few numbers on the phone and stepped a few feet away to call Bryce to come pick them all up.
“You know she already has a guy in mind for you, don’t you?” Megan asked. They opened the door and began to walk down the stairs.
“I know, but I need to get out of this house.”
“I’m sorry about the smell!”
“No, no it’s not that, I’ve just gotten into a rut lately. All I do is work.” Joyce and Megan had reached the bottom of the stairs and both took a deep breath of air. Joyce had never thought she would enjoy fried chicken air as much as she did right now. Joyce leaned against the building as they waited for Cinnamon to come down. “We need to start getting out more, meeting new people.” Joyce scuffed her foot against the ground, taking out her frustration on the dirt.
“And if by 'meeting people,' you mean 'meeting men,' then you are correct.” Megan sighed and leaned against the wall. “I need to find a man. My standards are starting to go down more and more. All I require now is a guy who knows how to spell friend and doesn't pick his nose in public.”
“You don’t mind the whole ‘chasing the girls around the playground and trying to kiss them’ game?”
“Are you kidding? I nearly joined in myself.”
“Gross, pedophile.” Joyce laughed. “Let’s hope the President of the PTA never walks past and hears us talking.”
“Don’t worry, I know exactly what she looks like so I can avoid her.”

Next time, on Paperback,

-Will Joyce ever learn to play the piano?
-Will the promised, "hot date," turn out to be truly hot?
-Will Obama win the 2008 Presidential Election?

Tune in next time to find out!

I love ESL textbooks.

I love flipping through various English textbooks. Now that I have used, probably over a dozen texts in teaching, I can see pretty quickly if I think the book will work well for the type of class I like to teach. (i.e. awesome) There are definitly books that I've looked at and wondered how they got published, but this upcoming one has taken the cake. I took as good of pictures as I could of the chapter entitled, "Hard Times," from the book, "Express Yourself!" This must be a different version than the one I used in Korea, because I DID use an Express Yourself book in my conversation class in Korea, and I remember hating it.

"Look at the pictures and vocabulary words. Talk about what is happening in each picture."

The guy is reading about a factory closing in the newspaper. He is pretty bummed about it and the next photo shows him waiting in line at the unemployment office.

Man and wife are worried about the future. Husband has already filled the garbage can with empty beer cans.

Husband didn't get the new job. He drinks even more and then shouts and scares his wife and kids.

Wife and kids move out, leaving a note, "You don't care about us anymore." Husband is sad. He drives around and thinks about killing himself till he goes in a church and ponders his future.

All right class, let's discuss unemployment, domestic abuse, and suicide today! Let's also discuss the stereotypes that have been reinforced through these cartoons.

Stereotype 1- When a man who works in a factory looses his job, he will turn to drinking.

Stereotype 2-If a blue-collar man drinks, he will drink to excess and scare his children and wife

Stereotype 3-Man work. Woman stay home with kids.

Stereotype 4-Only a life disaster of this importance could drive a man to church....OR that church is the only thing that could prevent this man's suicide.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who knew?

I've noticed that horseback riding is an Olympic sport. I've realized that people devote decades of training to improving their skill at riding. However, knowing that, I still didn't think horseback riding was all that hard. I'm not amazing at very many things, I consider myself more of a jack-of-all trades, but the one thing I was always confident in was my ability to ride a horse. I've always been told I "have a good seat," and I can get most horses to happily do what I want when those same horses argue and fight with most riders. I've trained horses, and did a pretty awesome job.

This class I'm taking, Animal Science 268, Advanced Balanced Seat is, no doubt, kicking my ass. Riding in this class is not just sitting in the saddle and pointing the horse's head in the right direction. It's moving both legs and arms constantly. Squeezing and releasing with lower heels, keeping your inside leg at the girth and the outside leg behind, pressing and releasing as a specific hoof lifts off the ground. It's ten different ways of holding and moving your seat and each rein and leg and a thousand different combinations, and each one means something different to the horse. It's constantly moving with the horse, keeping him moving actively, even when he wants to move about a half a mile an hour for 75 minutes straight.

We ride twice a week and have a class lecture once a week. Some of my notes below.


Fall Management/Impact Force

momentum = velocity x mass

force = feet/seconds squared

Crash Management Strategies

The strongest tool is maximizing duration of impact. If you double the duration you quarter the force. So. Do that. Make the duration of impact last longer as you're falling off a horse. Don't be thinking what I usually do, "Crap! Crap! Oh, this is going to hurt! Ohhhh. It DID hurt."


How to get a horse to take longer steps? You need to tap the horse on the barrel, back from the girth. This activates the perniculous reflex. The perniculous reflex causes a horse to kick at his belly (in nature this happens when there is a bug on his belly), but in this case when your heel taps that area.


How do you get the horse, "on the bit?" (Traveling with his head perpendicular to the ground, exactly 90 degrees, although his head carriage is not totally the issue here.) Do you tighten up on the bit to pull his nose down?

Leg at girth = horse steps further up under the belly = increases carrying by pushing with the hindquarters = horse lifts and rounds back (rider has an active seat which facilitates this) = horse extends bit (reaches for the bit) = Creates more contact = Leg connection = Horse on the bit.


What four things determine a horse's value?

1 Training
2 Phenotype
3 Genotype
4 Personality


Interesting huh? Maybe not. But it is to me.

I guess this takes some sort of skill.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home Re-model

I moved back into my apartment a few weeks ago and wanted to spruce it up. It is unfurnished and the four of us roommates are either college students or constantly spending money on vet bills, so we don't have a lot of money to spend on interior decorating. However, I came into a nice couch, kitchen table and a few other things that I love. (How I came into them is a different story, but it was loads of hard work and I moved more than 6,000 pounds of garbage or other materials within the course of a weekend. I know exact weights. That's neither a guess nor exaggeration) I mentioned to the roommates we should move all the animal stuff out of the living room (dog kennel, cat litter box, etc) and make the living area a nice place where we can have people come over and stuff. They had already been thinking about it, and I seconded the idea.

I was going to take before and after pictures, but my roommates are too cool and cleaned the whole house for me when I moved back in and transfered all the pet stuff out of the living room to make room for the couch and stuff. Here is the living room, complete with my pictures and flower print and Ryan's original painting. I like the chair with the orange ottoman, I don't know why.

The kitchen table with photos of all our pets. Including Ryan's pet spider that lives on his rear view window.

The back entrance, where all the pet stuff got relegated, including dog toy box, dirty couches and cat den.

I love my apartment. Good thing that the owner is now selling it. Apparently he put an uber high price on it, so it's unlikely it will sell, but, boy, I am going to be one sad college student if it does and I have to find a new place and move all my stuff.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rodeo Events. The Good, Bad and "What the hell are they thinking?"

The River Falls Rodeo was a few days ago and my roommate, Ryan, and I went to it, excited to see some action and pick up some cute cowboys. (That might have just been me. I didn't specifically ask though.)

We arrived and immediately I was put off by the (I try to keep my swearing to a minimum so when I say the following statement, you know I mean it.) douchbag announcer. First of all, as we walk in, said DB announcer is extolling the virtues of being American. My favorite part was when he said, and I quote, as it is branded in my memory, "And if you don't agree with everything we, the best country in the world, do, then..." And here he trailed off and Toby Keith's classy country song started with the lyrics, "We'll put a boot in your ass." At this point we were forever enemies. Did he think we lived in some sort of dictatorship? Then to top it all off, at my public, secular, University, he proceeded to say a prayer. By then I was steaming.

As the rodeo continued on my mood fluctuated. It ran really smoothly and professionally. They had great rough stock and they transitioned from event to event quickly and smoothly. I could have done without the lame jokes from the announcer. His follow-up to his jokes that bombed (about 80% of them) was always, "You'll get that tomorrow darlin'."

However, there are a few sports I think Rodeo needs to get rid of. The first one is calf roping. This really hurts the calf and no cowboy on any working ranch would ever do this. Most events, with the noticeable exception of bull riding, are supposed to be things that cowboys actually do. Stay on a bucking horse, cut a cow from the herd, rope a full-grown steer etc.

Number two sounds like kind of a turn in the opposite direction. But I don't know why they ever invented the sport of breakaway roping. This is calf roping but the rope "breaks away" as soon as the calf is roped. Sounds a lot more humane, and it is. However, this sport was created just for girls. Girls apparently can't handle the men's sport, so they made up a watered-down, patronizing, wimpy sport to keep the girls happy didn't win the rodeo princess crown and couldn't barrel race.

The last sport is easily the stupidest "sport" in the history of the universe. And I include in that line-up, speed walking, curling, bull-baiting, competitive eating and rhythmic gymnastics. It is called "goat tie-down." What happens is they stake a goat to the ground. A cowgirl gallops toward it at full speed, jumps off her horse and ties three of the legs together. Are you kidding me? I can't think of any more patronizing, condescending, "sport." The girls apparently wanted to tie up an animal, just like the boys do in calf roping, which they don't get to do in breakaway, but they can't put the two sports together, because that would be too hard, and they have to get a seven pound goat and TIE HIM TO THE GROUND! It literally made me purple in the face. There were so many girls (more than a dozen) demeaning themselves by participating in it.

So, that's the River Falls Rodeo. After parties were pretty fun though. So were the parties after the party.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Favorite Diet Foods

These are some really good diet foods I hope I never get sick of.

-Pickles. (5 calories per pickle)

-Cottage cheese with fruit or a little seasoned salt.

-Yogurt with some sort of healthy crunchy cereal on top. (The cereal is much cheaper than granola)

-Tuna Wrap. (Don't mix any mayo with the tuna, but chop up a pickle pretty fine and sprinkle some lemon pepper and a little cheddar cheese, and a big leaf of lettuce.)

-Tomato and Bread. (Slice some French bread about an inch thick, then spread a dollop of low-cal Italian dressing on each slice. Place a thinly sliced tomato on top of each one and put them under the broiler until the tomatoes look half-way cooked. Then pull them out and cover with either fresh shredded Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese and cook till the cheese is melted.)

-Cheese Tortilla. (Put a plain tortilla in the toaster oven until the edges start to crisp a little. Then sprinkle a small amount (1/8 of a cup maybe?) of shredded Asiago cheese on it and some Garlic Herb seasoning. Put back in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted.)

-Ginger and Lime Fish. (Mix together ginger, garlic, lime juice, a little butter and some pepper. Broil the fish on each side for five minutes, then spread the mixture on one side of the fish and broil for two or three more minutes. Don't let the effing cat jump up on the counter and start licking your fish while you get a glass of water.)

-Kimchi and Rice.

-Fresh fruit like grapes and apples. (They win on the easy factor)

-Veggie mix. (Cut up onions, green, red and orange peppers, and carrots. Spray a pan lightly with Pam and put the carrots in first, as they need a little longer to cook. After they have cooked a little, add the peppers. Then add the onions and some frozen peas. If you add lemon pepper or garlic, this is a good side dish to the fish or other main course.)

-Diet Code Red Mountain Dew. (yea caffeine!) Diet Sprite (Yea late night sugar attack!)

-Coffee (Yea fair trade medium blend! Yea Splenda and skim milk!)

I think the biggest thing I have started trying to do with my diet (besides run every day. ugh. Unless I start loving it soon, it will only last until the snow flies or I hit the weight I want. I need to find a workout partner to play a fun sport with me instead.) Anyhow, I have started trying to really love food. I don't eat food unless it is totally delicious. (i.e. no more soggy sandwiches or cheap canned soups.) I eat fresh, ripe fruits and veggies. I avoid canned food most of the time, and I have fallen in love with seasonings and spices. You can make a lame tuna sandwich on white bread with limp lettuce, or you can make a delicious low-calorie tuna wrap by adding lemon pepper and heating it in the toaster oven, then adding a crisp lettuce leaf. And then you can enjoy it and focus on eating it rather than studying while you eat. Another thing I've gotten better at is portion control. I don't need a full plate to feel full. I need small portions of a variety of foods, and I will feel full if I eat half as much as I usually do. And the last thing is patience. I know that in four hours Dairy Queen will still have their Moo-Latte drink, so if I am super craving one now, I say I'll get one later. And by the time later has rolled around, I don't need it anymore.

Yea Food!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I have really been enjoying my classes this semester. I love learning about syntax and grammar and cultures and teaching methods, so this TESOL teaching career is fitting better and better. I wanted to add a few portions from textbook that I thought were fascinating.

Patterns in the Mind by Ray Jackendoff. Page 23

"There is an alteration called, "expletive infixation" that many speakers perform on words of English under conditions of extreme exasperation, as in (2)

(2) How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not talking about the Allegheny River! Can't you get it into your head I'm talking about the Susque-goddamn-hanna?


The interesting thing thing is that we have pretty clear intuitions about how to use this infix. It sound natural in the examples in (3) but decidedly odd in those in (4).

(3) uni-goddamn-versity

(4) Jacken-bloddy-doff


I'm fairly certain none of us was ever taught the principal (or pattern) that says where it is possible to insert an expletive infix into English words. Yet we readily use this principal to make intuitive judgments about new cases....the infix sounds right only when it immedietly precedes the syllyble of the word with the main stress."

I love that my textbook helps me teach English students when to correctly put swear words in words!

Topics in Language and Culture for Teachers by Steven Brown and Jodi Eisterhold. Page 40

"Amok (which has been taken into English in the term to run amok) is a Malaysian condition characterized by a sudden uncontrollable anger; people with this condition have been known to kill whomever they see in a bout of rage."

Interesting. This portion of the book talked about how emotions are social as well as physiological. The DSMMD recognized "culture-bound syndromes." It says that certain cultures have certain dysfunctional disorders based not on genes or anything other than their culture. Crazy, huh?

Language and Culture by Claire Kramsch. Page 92.

"...let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a variety of expressions:

Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument.
His criticisms were right on target.
I demolished his argument.
I've never won an argument with him.
You disagree? Ok, shoot!
If you use that strategy, he'll wipe you out.
He shot down all my arguments.

It is important to see that we don't just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack their positions and we defend our own...Though there is no physical battle, but there is a verbal structures the actions we are performing.
Try to imagine a culture were arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently."

I love this fictitious culture. I want to live there.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Eating is such a funny thing. Everyone knows that. I mean when we think about things that are important to us, we list things like friends, family, hobbies, pets, knowledge, etc, etc. But food and its consequences (i.e. body size) take up an enormous portion of our thought, especially girls, of course. I've always been a pretty confident girl. I get out and do things, and while I've never been super fit, I'm not an embarrassment to myself. (Unless I have to walk up two flights of stairs and then I can usually hide it pretty well by pretending to get a drink of water from the fountain rather than wheezing and huffing too audibly.) I've always thought I was a pretty girl, above average anyhow, but there's always been that one thing missing. That 10% of my body I didn't like, those 10-20 pounds I wished I was lighter, but never did anything about because, let's face it, I loved dessert and sitting on my butt more than I loved the idea of having a perfect body. (And what was perfect anyhow? Some ideal that the magazine moguls would have us believe? Some fake, unusually skinny girl that any normal man wouldn't want to be with anyhow? Some, some....insert other indignant rhetoric here)

I don't know what it was that changed a few weeks ago. Maybe it was the sense of empowerment I got from my summer job (it didn't kill me, so now I'm stronger for it). Maybe it was my frustration with various things in my life feeling out of control and I felt like I needed to have some sort of control over something...hmmmm insert weight control. Maybe I'm getting older and I've never gone this long before without a boyfriend. Maybe I finally heard enough men saying that so and so was so hot and then I looked at her and realized she always weighs 30 pounds less than me. Maybe I lost my idealism and realized that looks are important to me, and they are no doubt going to be important to other people too...who the hell knows? Being a psych minor in college just makes the list grow without offering any hope of a correct answer. (Minor, not major.) Anyhow, I went out and bought a cheap scale and made up a chart listing every day and my weight including a box to check if I had exercised and stretched that day. (I also want to be more fit and flexible, but weight comes first.) I finally wanted to be able to sit down without wanting a pillow to hold over my stomach to hide the roll at my waist. I wanted to wear a swimsuit without being disgusted by my thighs. I wanted to see photos of myself without groaning about my double chin and fat face. I wanted to be hot.

Now, as I say all these things, it sounds like I'm really insecure. I'm not, and I haven't ever really been. I have always liked how I looked and not only have I liked my body 95% of the time, I have always liked 95% of my body. It's just that now I'm prepared to like 100%.

Ok, so the diet started, and I didn't do too much different. I drank a lot of water. I ate less at mealtimes, didn't snack and didn't eat dessert unless my University was stupid and tried to make me believe for a few hours that I wouldn't receive credit for an entire semester of schooling, but that's another story. I realized that although I have always gone to food when I was bored or sad, or even just out of habit, (wake up-eat. Go out with friends-eat. Come home-look in the fridge...and you guessed it, eat) I could break that habit pretty easily. I learned that I had the willpower to eat only when I was hungry, and even then, I learned hunger isn't so bad. It often goes away after forty minutes or so, and then you don't feel hungry again for hours.

I lost four pounds the first week, and I lost five pounds the second week. It felt good, and it feels good. After only two weeks I already had to punch a new hole in my belt. I went shopping the other day and had gone down two sizes in clothes. I know I can keep this up too. I usually wouldn't buy a dress I couldn't wear, but I bought one that was slightly too small, knowing I would fit into it in a few weeks.

I probably eat 500 calories and a multi-vitamin a day. I eat healthy...for 500 calories (fish, cottage cheese, pickles, fruit). I'll admit that sounds pretty low.

One thing that scares me is that what happens when I hit 135? What if there is still some portion of my body I don't like? What if, after all this time, I just don't look good in a swimsuit, and it has nothing to do with how much I weight? I won't have a scapegoat anymore. Will I think that "losing five more pounds" will fix it?

I realize now how easy it would be to get a eating problem. I love watching the weight drop off. I look forward to weighing myself every day, and if the weight hasn't gone down, then the next day I eat even less till the weight does go down. I have such control over something I have battled with since I was 17. My initial goal was to weigh 135, and I found myself thinking today, I could hit 120, or even less, no problem. I had such headaches and hunger pains when I went to bed the other night that I couldn't sleep. But I didn't want to eat because now the scale has become more important than pain. I started out wanting to lose about a pound a week. Now if I were to have "only" lost a pound come Thursday, I would starve myself till I at least three or four pounds dropped for weigh in on Monday.

Is this a problem? It sure sounds like one. But I still feel like it isn't. I am going to stick to my initial goal of 135, not a pound below. I just want to get there faster. I now know that I am stronger than my hunger, and so I know I'm going to hit 135. I just want to hit it now. Since I weigh 153 right three pounds a week, it would only take me around two months to get there. I could be the weight I've always wanted to be by Thanksgiving...or even by Halloween. Isn't that crazy? I've always been the type of person who goes out and gets what she wants. I wanted a horse. I got one. I wanted to live abroad. I lived in S. Korea and Ecuador. I want a degree, I want an apartment that lets me have dogs, I want a cool summer job, I want, I want, I want. However, this has been the one thing I have wanted for the longest time, and I am finally going to get it.

I suppose that's why I'm writing about it. I usually wouldn't write such personal things on my blog. I wouldn't open myself up to such criticism. But isn't it crazy that I am finally going to get what I have wanted for almost a decade?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Liar Liar

I was driving from Wyoming to Wisconsin a few weeks ago and had an instant craving for a tuna sub from Subway. I heard on the radio that there was a Subway in Chamberlain South Dakota and immediately made plans to stop there. I had been driving since five the previous evening, with a six hour sleep break in Gillette, Wyoming. It was now two in the afternoon the next day. I pulled into town and started driving around. The town was set up all weird with one way streets and dead end roads right in the middle of the town. At one point I spun a U-turn and decided to head back the way I had come. I noticed some stupid Chevy following me really closely as I stopped at a stop light. I signaled right, realized that was headed towards a bridge, decided to go straight, then decided that left was the way to go, because I saw the (hooray!) Subway sign. That stupid Chevy kept following me and I noticed that the song I was listening to on the radio had had this strange background beat, it was really annoying.
Stupid Chevy continued to follow me as I jerked quickly to the left and headed towards Subway. By now, the background sound was starting to get a little confusing, the song was finished, and that stupid Chevy was still right on my bumper. I flipped off the radio and heard the siren, then I tilted the rear-view mirror up and saw the police logo on the "stupid Chevy SUV."
I started cursing and pulled over. As soon as the officer came up to the window, I started talking, "Sorry! Radio! All I wanted was a five dollar foot-long! The radio said Chamberlain had a Subway! Blabber! I'm charming and harmless!" I handed over my license and denied I had anything illegal in the car as he took in my unorganized mess of clothes, sleeping bag, guitar, lariat, and so forth spilling from the backseat. Th officer asked if I knew why he had pulled me over and I told him I assumed it was because of the little confusion about whether to turn right, go straight, or left, and the little absence of signaling, and/or being in the correct turning lane. He shook his head and said, "Among other things." It was like the scene from Liar Liar, "You flipped a U-turn, speeding, improper lane change, lane change without signaling...." At this point I groaned and said, "Oh no," in hopes of sounding contrite, but it just came out like, "Oh crap, you've been following me for a long time, I didn't know you saw all that." He walked away and I texted a friend this quote, "I just got pulled over because I'm a moron." Then continued moaning, but this time inwardly about how the stupid five dollar foot-long was no doubt going to change to a three-hundred dollar foot-long.
The officer came back and gave me a warning and directions to Subway. He also gave me some tips about South Dakota laws, for example, you can't do a U-Turn if another vehicle is within 500 feet. I think he felt I could also assume that speeding was also illegal. But I still got that that warning and I didn't even have to moan about being a poor college student! Hooray!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Goodbye Camp K!

This past Friday was my last day at Camp K. I wanted to say goodbye to everyone in the only way I know how...through song. This will not be entertaining to anyone who didn't work at Camp K, but for those that did, enjoy. This is roughly sung to the chords to "You're Beautiful."

My life is Brilliant.
My life is Brilliant.
I love today.
I saw some angels, here at Camp K.
I smiled at them during training, they were clueless just like me.
and we all lost sleep week one, 'cause Ted had to pee.

You're over soon, you're over soon, you're over soon, it's true.
I saw your face on a facebook page, and when I think back,
good stories I won't lack.

Verse 2

Then Americorps came, and then they gave us classes
on how to be kind and then they saved our asses
And I don't think Rocky deserved what she got,
but we shared a trip camp that was way too hot.
And summer went on and our patience fell,
and I loved it when I finally heard Shrek yell.
And we all had our campers we thought were angels,
as we gossiped about various love triangles.
And we all worked something like 84 hours
and didn't have time for even one damn shower.


Verse 3

Then a flying dragon, named Matt Lee
told me too late when he had to pee.
So I cleaned his clothes as we moaned about our woes,
but sent God a kiss that my group lacked Davis.
And Flipper's group somehow got all the runners
Again we thanked God that Sydney was hers
Thursday night made all our hearts ring
cheesy I know, but Jared are you listening?


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Camp K

Working at Camp K has already been a life-changing experience. It has changed the way I think about a lot of things, as cliche as that sounds. I look at people with disabilities differently, I look at myself differently, and I look at the future differently. I think it has made me a better person, and has made me realize just how awesome of a person I already am. (I mean, who else could remain patient after someone has been in the bathroom for 25 minutes, remaining in there after repeated pounding on the door and hearing "Please hurry up! Someone else needs to use the bathroom!" And then the person who is waiting with crossed legs pees her pants and starts crying because she is so embarrassed and thinks everyone will be mad at her. And just then, the person in the bathroom comes out whistling and carrying a drawing of Ratatouille that they have been working on using the counter by the sink. Who else wouldn't ring that Ratatouille drawing neck?) I now know that if I had a child with a disability, physical or mental, I could handle it. I now know a little bit more just how hard it can be to be a parent.

When I got this job at Camp K, I had a totally different picture in my head of what it would be like. My job title is "Trip Camp Leader." Due to a few mix-ups in communication, and my own assumptions, what I imagined I would be doing is very different from what I am doing. I imagined myself traveling from national park to national park with eight campers and the other trip camp leader, getting paid to see the western United States. I imagined white water rafting on Camp K's dime while helping people with disabilities, but not really having to work all that hard to do it. I imagined it would be like hiking with a few friends, we would all stick together and sing songs in the car and help put up the tents and they would need a little help with directions or we would need to hike a little slower, but it wouldn't be all that hard.

What is it really like? At first I was disappointed to learn that the other trip camp leader and I trade off taking trips, so I will go one week and her the next, each time picking a new intern to take with us. (To reward the interns for working so hard for no pay.) So I was to go on four trip camps and the other leader goes on three, and then we both stay at camp the other weeks, being a group leader here.

After last week's trip, I am more than content to go on ONLY three more camps.

The first week of camp was, looking back, relatively easy. Although I had never changed an adult's diaper, showered an adult, or fed an adult before, I was surprised how quickly it became a non-issue. My group (obviously, I feel this every week) had the best campers, and there were a few who really endeared themselves to me. There was T, the 80 year old camper, who smiled at everyone and made me want to be as fit and healthy as him at 80. Although, I don't want to wake up thirteen times a night to pee. There was B. the guy who answered everything with "Really good." "How's horseback riding going B?" "Really Good" There was J. who was sooooo effing slow about everything! You could get her up and get her started, go change and clothe two other people who needed complete assistance and return to find her just barely getting out of her pajamas. All she wanted to do was sit and draw pictures of Ratatuille. Guess what we let her do all morning Friday when we were so exhausted from working 60 hours already, not counting a night of cabin duty? (I'll give you a hint, paper, markers, and rats were involved) M the whole week asking to please call her mother, crying from homesickness, wanting to go home, and blowing kisses in the air towards the direction of home...and guess what she does on Friday? She lies down on her bed refusing to let us roll up her sleeping bag because she wants to stay at Camp K so badly.

The second week was my first week being group leader. It was pretty stressful. The first week, I had been a normal counselor to get the feel of it, but this week I was in charge. I counted campers probably five times an hour, always nervous I would lose one. It was teen week, so I had good cause to worry. There were two boys in my group with no less than three girlfriends throughout the week and one guy with two girlfriends. They were always wanting to hold hands or sneak a kiss. It was middle school to the nth degree. The boys were little players, trying to get as many phone numbers and hugs as they could (from other campers and counselors alike) and the girls were constantly hysterical because their boyfriend of 45 minutes had dumped them for a new piece of tail. The creepiest part was the camper who always thought he was such a catch and would always say, "Timber....." "Yes?" I would ask, always in a hurry and being pulled in four directions, "Can I have a hug?" He would stand there, getting ready for bed, with his shirt off and arms out....I told him I didn't give out hugs.

PS everyone here has a camp name. Mine is Timber.

It is so hard because you are working all the time. It's not like you just get them up in the morning and walk with them to breakfast, you cajole them out of bed, and pull off sleeping bags and change and dress them, then walk down and then get them sitting down and then dish up their food, and then cram some food in your mouth while you feed a camper, and if you have to help a camper, you take your food with you because they will take it or touch it or eat it, and you have to keep the other kids from saying mean things to each other and/or keep them from going through the garbage for more food. Then you push a wheelchair up a hill to horses and keep the 8 campers occupied and happy while four ride at a time....on and on and on. Swimming is the best part because most of the time you can just lounge in the pool and watch them play, but about half the time, you need to pull a kid out because he refuses to wear a life jacket even though he failed his swim test, and you then have to restrain him from hurting himself or others. You get your hair pulled and they try to kick or bite you, and it's hard to pull a teenager out of a pool when they are all slippery and wet and either limp or trying to kick you in the mouth.

Last week though, undoubtedly was the worst week yet. Before I tell you how hard it was, let me preface it with what happened at the end of the week. Pickup for campers is at 12:00. Since Monday morning at 8:30 am, I had been telling myself, "I can make it till Friday at 12:00, I can make it!" Well, Fri at 12:00 rolled around and four of my campers still hadn't been picked up. I still had to deal with them! I began dishing up lunch and swallowing to hold back tears. I'm not normally a crying person, but I couldn't help it. I had made it till Fri at 12:00. I had made it to 12 o'clock and I needed to be done. For four days I had steeled myself to stay strong till 12 and when 12 rolled around and I still wasn't free, it just wasn't fair. A few hours later, after cleanup we had a staff meeting and the other staff who had been on the trip with me, Rocky, leaned over and said, "I feel like crying, but I don't know why." I said, "It's because we're done. We're finally done!" She nodded her head and broke down into gut-wrenching sobs. Full on gasping for air and weeping for ten minutes. It was exactly how I felt. One more example of how bad this week was before I launch into description, because no description will do me justice. The week after Moab I was working with a very low-funtioning child who had anger issues. While I was changing his diaper, and trying to keep him from injuring himself I got poo on every single article of clothing I had on, and had to throw away a bracelet. I had to go up and change clothes and even, yes, wipe a touch of poo off of my face. (no time for a shower) I did have time to shoot a quick text off to my friend saying that even with that, the week was still going better than Moab.

Ok, anyhow. So Monday rolls around and Rocky and I are all set up with our sign-in sheets and smiley faces. Outside the van is all ready to go, food and tents packed, and a full tank of gas. The first boy to show up is named J. He is a tall, awkward looking kid who is 13. (This week will be all teens) He asks when his friend Steven is coming, and I draw a blank on the name and look down on the sheet to be sure. No Steven signed up for trip camp. In a cheerful voice I let him know that Steven isn't coming, but we're going to have lots of fun anyways. J starts scowling. "Listen, no offense, but you guys really screw things up. You are so un-organized. I should sue you. I mean, I just talked to Steven and he said he was coming, I should sue you." As J keeps talking, I look past J to his dad. J isn't in my custody yet, so I don't feel comfortable disciplining him, but surely his Dad wouldn't let him talk that way, right? His dad laughs quietly, "Now, J, don't say that, you're going to have lots of fun." They then walk away as J continues to moan. A few minutes later, his pal Steven walks past, sleeping bag under his arm and a smile on his face explaining he was confused, he is going to stay at Camp K this week, but it'll still be a cool week, he'll see J on Fri, bye dude!

The rest of our campers check in, none of them really standing out. One girl is deaf, R, and carries a notepad with her everywhere to communicate. I start brushing up on my finger spelling immediately and R helps me make up a sign language name for Timber. As everyone starts situating in the van, the boys shuffle towards the back and the girls (only two) sit up front. L immediately tells us, "If I get too hot I have a seizure. If I get to cold I get a seizure. If it is too loud I have a seizure." Rocky and I look at her. This might not have been the best trip for her. Moab is the desert. The weather says it will hit 105 and at night get down to 45. The rowdy boys in the back are laughing and making farting noises and L keeps shouting at them to be quiet as Rocky and I run back and forth getting last minute things ready.

Finally, it happens, L has a seizure. Just like she said she would. She walks out of the car, and goes to sit in a chair inside the building and Rocky and I find her there. We look at each other. It doesn't look like what we've seen people do in the past when they have seizure. A seizure isn't always a grand mal limb shaking thing, it can be just a temporary zoning out, or a muscle twitch, but L isn't doing that. We wait with her, but as it gets closer to 10:30, and we're supposed to leave by 10, we call the camp nurse over. The nurse tells us in private that although everyone seizures differently, it sure doesn't look like a seizure to her. Another staff comes up and warns us that L is famous for faking seizures. Right. So we somehow get her in the van and when she does she warns all the other passengers that they need to be silent the whole ride or she'll have another seizure. It's a 6 hour drive. With 6 teenage boys. We warn L that silence is not an option.

The ride down takes us from 10:30 to 6:00. We stop for lunch and take over a playground. C climbs a tree, J starts going through the landscaper's wheelbarrow, and N jaw breaks. (Not really, he has these super complicated braces that come apart if he opens his mouth too wide, and then he needs to to get both hands in his mouth to pry them back together. It's a two person job.) We get C down from the tree, J gets all up in my face when I won't let him play with the landscaper's tools, and literally tries to push me over to get past them. He's not a little kid. He's used to getting his way. Not this week pal. We go to get things out of the van and realize that this week is going to suck worse than we thought it would.

The van we take has a wheelchair lift in the back. We don't need it this week, but use the space to store out luggage and food. However, to get in the back you have to put the wheelchair ramp down. The wheelchair ramp isn't working. At all. We can't get in the back of the van. We can't get to the coolers and food. You can put it down manually, but you have to do that from the inside. A skinny person CAN squeeze inside, but they can't crank it down with all the suitcases and coolers in the way, which we can't get out until the ramp is down. So the only thing I can grab out for lunch is chips, bread, apples, and jelly. So we're having jelly sandwiches with chips because of course, no one is touching the fruit.

We get back in the car and start driving again. Whoever isn't driving has to manage the kids in the back, and I don't know how I didn't get the job driving, being the "Trip Camp Leader" and all. N is sitting towards the back and we realize a habit he has. He likes to shout out the names of the trucks as we go past. He is obsessed with transportation. Every time we pass a semi, he shouts out the type it is, "Timber! Timber! Look! There's a Walmart truck! A Walmart truck!" I see N. His favorite, we learn quite quickly are trains, England trucks and Swift trucks. However, no matter what we say or do, we can't get him to stop shouting with his deep voice, "Timber! I saw a train! Where is the train? Timber! I want to see the train! Timber! Look! A swift truck! Swift! Swift! Timber!" This didn't really bother us too much, but the other campers hated it. A chorus of shouts came from the back, "Make him be quiet! Make him shut up! We SEE the truck N! You don't need to tell us every time you see a truck! Why is he like that?" Oh it was a nightmare. One of the times we stopped to pee, two of the boys refused to get back in the van. J especially was irritated. He told Rocky she was a crappy counselor, and grew incensed when she responded that she wasn't even a counselor, she was a intern. He told me that he was going to call his parents, and then the cops, then my boss and get us fired. I gave him my phone. "Go ahead. I don't want anyone having any secrets. You go ahead and call them." Sigh.

Fast Forward to Sept 7th. The job has been done for a month now, and I'm back in school. I tried to come back to this a few times to finish it and write more, but I couldn't do it. That week was the hardest week of my life. I couldn't re-live it in the detail necessary to express how horrible it was, and I couldn't re-live it the number of times needed to re-read through and through. I still don't think I can, and even if I could, I don't think anyone but Rocky and I can ever really know how hard that week was. So I will leave you with a few highlights.

We finally got to Moab. Of course the camp was full where we were supposed to camp, so we drove around until we found another campsite. It was the only one that had openings, and was located right on the Colorado River but didn't have any sort of electricity or running water. We set up the tents, with no help from the campers, although we tried to get them involved. One camper was busy having a seizure, the rest were busy fighting or listening to music on their ipods. As storm clouds started rolling in, Rocky and I got nervous and just set up the two large canvas tents and our smaller two-person tent ourselves. Once set up we realized that the tents are made for four people, and we had two girls and six boys. Six big boys in a four person tent, plus all their suitcases made bedtime a nightmare every night. Plus one kid snored...which didn't help the others sleep....which didn't help us sleep. I realize now that I should have just given them all granola bars and sent them to bed, but it was only eight o'clock and we had spaghetti on the menu. While we were trying to set up tents I started some water boiling for the noodles. We had unpacked kind of helter-skelter, unloading everything to get to the tents on the bottom, so when the dust storm blew up and the wind was so fast that it blew the boiling water off the propane stove and spilled all over the dry goods we had packed to eat. I ran over to try and save some of the food and looked back to see the boy's tent collapse in the wind. At this point I nearly packed up and went home. However, we somehow got everyone fed, teeth brushed, bathroom used, in pajamas, and in bed by just before midnight. Midnight. Rocky and I hadn't had time to eat, I had put some spaghetti in our tent to eat later, and when we got to it, we tried, but couldn't force it down. That set the tone for the rest of the week. Rocky and I never had time to eat anything. The kids would eat a bite or two, then sneak away to push each other in the fast-flowing Colorado river. Rocky and I would look at each other and one of us would round them up, ignore the insults, make them change shoes before getting the van, because they had been walking in mud, while the other would be cleaning up camp, washing dishes and ruing that she spent fifteen minutes standing by the burning propane stove in 103 degree weather to cook a meal no one wanted. Every moment outside was too hot, too dusty, too thirsty, the water we had was never cold enough, the bug spray never worked, the activities never fun enough, etc. R did nothing but ask questions all the time, "why? why? why?" for everything. She was deaf, so you always had to be conversing through writing things down. It makes it hard to keep two boys from fighting, help one boy brush his teeth, and gather garbage from the campsite all at once when you have to be writing things down. We never had time for anything. Neither Rocky nor I brushed our teeth once on this whole week, much less brushed our hair or washed our faces. The kids were never asleep before eleven o'clock. Not because we didn't start getting ready at seven o'clock though.

So I will finish there. And be glad it is in the past and glad that I am a better person for it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Car Crash

I was driving on a highway the other day and noticed the two semis ahead of me starting to slow down. I wasn’t too surprised because we were reaching the peak of a mountain (10% grade) and my little Chevy Cavalier wasn’t going any faster than forty miles an hour anyhow, I didn’t imagine they would do any better. One semi had been trying to pass the other, but slowed and changed into the right lane behind the first.
As the semi moved over I saw a truck stopped on the side of the road, and as I peaked the mountain, I saw a crushed car. It had obviously rolled over a number of times just seconds before, and there were people standing around outside it, peering inside the crushed body of the car and thirty yards away, I could see two people huddled over another body. I thought about how just the day before I had refreshed my first aid training. I pulled my car over and grabbed a jacket and towel before jumping out of my car.
As I stood up, the first thing I head was a man standing in front of another woman saying, “Don’t look, don’t look over there.” She was trying to see past him to the body on the ground. At that point, I’m ashamed to say I was afraid.
I’ve dealt with minor injuries before. I’ve helped people who have had seizures, people who have fallen from horses and hurt themselves, and I once bled almost a pint of blood all over myself after a mistake at a plasma donation site. I’ve seen pretty horrible animal injuries and I’ve always thought myself a pretty solid person in an emergency. But the way that man spoke as he blocked the woman’s view and the small size of the body scared me. I avoided it, thinking that the two people kneeling in the mud had whoever it was under control and ran to the other group of people.
I ran up and looked under the car, everyone was safely out. It was a family of five, Mother, Father, and three children. I looked over the two kids, they seemed relatively uninjured, some cuts and scrapes, scared and crying. It was a cold, stormy day, but they were wearing shorts and t-shirts and scattered around, in the path the car had rolled were flip-flops and beach bags. I wrapped one kid up in my jacket and found the mother’s shoe so she would stop walking around in the broken glass covering the ground. I asked her if anyone needed more help. She told me her daughter, her twelve-year old daughter had been thrown from the car. She had been the one forbidden from looking and she answered my question and pointed over at her daughter.
I swallowed and ran over to the body on the ground. The father was kneeling over her, and a woman was pulling a needle out of a bag sitting on the rocky, muddy ground. I blurted out my phrase. The phrase my friends and I have jokingly said to each other dozens of time, when someone stubs a toe, or trips, or is a wimp and complains about some trivial thing. I said it for real and was terrified of what they would say. “I’m trained in CPR and First Aid, can I help?” The woman looked up, said she was an ER nurse and told me to hold up the IV bag.
I’ve never been so relieved in my life. At this point I could stop worrying, she surely had everything under control. Looking back, I realized that she couldn’t do everything. That someone, me, should have known to shout at the bystanders to bring blankets to cover up the girl immediately, to keep her warm. I don’t know how much time went by before I noticed someone on the phone to 911. I had assumed someone else had called and it hadn‘t even crossed my mind to make sure, but I’m sure they assumed the same.
Another man came by and held the IV for me and I ran to my car to get whatever I could to cover up the girl. She was laying in a small running stream of water and wearing shorts. It must have been just barely above forty degrees. I grabbed a t-shirt and a towel and laid it over her bare legs, and other people ran to get blankets from their cars too.
I stepped back. The nurse was shouting at the man on the line to EMT that they needed to send a life flight immediately, and I heard the mother weeping in the background, still staying out of sight.
The father had been doing mouth to mouth on his daughter, but she had started breathing again, and he crouched next to her, his fingers keeping track of her pulse. I want to say there was blood everywhere, but that’s not true. There was blood on the crown of the father’s head, no open scar, just an undefined smear dying his thin blond hair red. He had a clean dribble of blood down the right side of his face, from a cut above his eye, but the left side of his face was clean. There was a thick ¾ inch ring of blood around his mouth. (That’s the snapshot of the event that stays in my mind. That still of him kneeling in the freezing running water, fingers pressed against her pulse, staying calm as he tells the guy on the phone his daughter’s age, how clean his nose and chin and cheeks were, with a perfectly formed ring of blood around his mouth.) His forearms and hands were so thick with wet and clotted blood that I grabbed a clean pillowcase to try and stop the bleeding on his wrists. I pulled back a second before asking him if I could bandage his arms, realizing, horrified, that the blood was all his daughter’s.
She was thin, and had brown hair. If I hadn’t known she was white from her pale dirty legs and her white parents, I wouldn’t have known what race she was, so covered in blood was her face. She was stretched out flat and I couldn’t see her breathing, it was so shallow. I wanted to go back to the mother and tell her good news, but I couldn’t think of anything to tell her.
I don’t know how long we stood there. The other bystanders and I. We had done what we could, wrapped up the injured in warm clothing and blankets, and looked around helplessly when the nurse shouted that she needed a syringe, tubing, anything so that she could suction blood. We didn’t have anything like that in our cars. My first aid kit I had grabbed from my glove box, I didn’t even bother opening. It was full of Band-Aids and one inch antiseptic wipes and two inch gauze pads and disposable Neosporin packets. There was nothing else we could do but wait.
Although we were only a few minutes out of a moderately sized town (15,000), it seemed to take forever for the fist rescue person to arrive. I have no way of saying accurately, but it felt to me like 15 or 20 minutes. It may be been only five, I have no way of knowing. The volunteer rescue guy arrived, put a neck brace on the girl, put her on a backboard and just then the ambulance arrived.
The girl was put in the ambulance with her father, and the children and mother got in the police or volunteer rescue trucks. Those people who had stopped to help stood around confused as to what to do. I gathered from the ground my towel and shirt. When the EMT workers had picked up the girl, they had pushed off the blankets covering her. My things were soaked in mud and sand, but surprisingly little blood and I threw them in the unused pillowcase. I realized later that someone must have returned one of my jackets to my car, and I was selfishly glad that my favorite jacket had been returned while a jacket I didn’t like all that much was the one that I saw the five year old girl clutch around herself as she was placed in the rescue truck.
Later that night I realized that in my frantic search of my car for anything that the nurse could use, I had forgotten about the pens I have in there. The pens I have can be taken apart easily and one piece is a four inch tube. Probably exactly what the nurse could have used to suction blood.
I think now, about how little help I actually was, other than the fact that I was going away for the weekend and happened to have lots of coats and towels in the car. I think about the father stoically asking the nurse if he can flush out his daughter’s wounds with water, while his blood drips off his jaw. I think about how dangerous driving is and how quickly people can die. I also think about how strong a body can be. Just before the girl was loaded onto a backboard, she started moaning. A soft, terrible, weak, pain-filled moan that in any other case would have been the worst sound in the world, but at that point, a noise we all felt hope at hearing.
I wonder if the little girl was buckled in, and if she wasn’t, why not? I wonder if she survived and will recover fully. I want to think she did. I called the highway patrol the next day and asked them if they could just tell me if she was alive or not, and they couldn’t tell me anything until there was a press release. I looked online and couldn’t find anything, but I’m hoping that the girl survived and the newspapers deemed a non-fatal car crash not news worthy enough to write about. I’m hoping that’s why I can’t find any information online.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Camp

So, I got a job this summer at Camp K. Kids and adults come here who have mental or physical disabilities, and we help them have fun....

I've learned how to properly empty out a fully submerged canoe if it's out in the middle of the lake, I've learned how to tie a half fisherman's knot on the ropes course, how to help transfer a person who uses a wheelchair (if they need help) from their chair into/onto any of the following,
-the back of a horse
-the pool
-a canoe.
-the grass
-a different chair

This summer I'm a "trip camp leader" and I'll be away a lot for trip camps. So far I am signed up to go to Moab, Jackson Hole, Dinosaur, and one that is in Salt Lake, where we see the wonderful sights that are Salt Lake! I may also go to Bryce Canyon and Maynard Dixon, which I really want to do, if I can weasel my way in...I will update later if I'm going or not.

I'm excited for the campers to get here, although I know it will be super stressful and busy, (You work Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 9 PM and Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM) I think it will be a lot of fun too. I am nervous about the small amount of money I'll have come the end of the summer though. To put it in one month of work here, I will make as much as I did in eight days working in Korea. However, the people here, including me, didn't take the job to get rich...

I'm thinking about my future and this summer job. There aren't a lot of 25 year olds here working for the summer. Most everyone is between the 18 and 22 age range.

I'm hitting that point in my life where I don't really want summer jobs anymore. I want a stable job. I don't want to move twice a year and always have half my stuff in storage. I don't want to have to make new friends for four months and I'm tired of none of my best friends knowing each other. My best pals live in Idaho, Utah, Minnesota, Norway, Taiwan, Korea, and Britain. When friends get together to reminisce I can't share that funny Ecuador story with my Idaho friend because she never met Marcelo, and I can't tell funny college stories with my Minnesota friends because they don't know about Comic Frenzy. It's strange how much I like reminiscing about the past, and how little I can do that. Not that I don't like to make new memories, mind you, but there is something so fun about sitting around someone's basement, telling the same stories you've all heard five times about that time you drove down to Vegas reading aloud to each other from the book you checked out from the library, "Angels Don't Knock," and writing constructive criticisms in the margins. (Including my favorite, from Claire, "This book has made me realize my dreams of being published are all too attainable.")

I fully plan to enjoy this job to the fullest, but I don't know if I want to have another summer job next year. My limited finances might make it necessary, but if possible, I'm going to settle down somewhere for a while. (River Falls) (For two years.) (Then I'll get a teaching job somewhere and buy a house) (Then I can travel in the summer)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Timber's Haircut

I've only had Timber for about 8 months now, so I've never had her in the summer months. Even in fall, winter and spring, she sheds like you wouldn't believe, leaving clumps of hair everywhere. As it has started to get warmer I find more and more of her hairs in my lunch, and decided it was time to give her a shave. Also because she is staying with my family this summer and I fear that if I dropped her off unshaven she would get a Mohawk and poofy tail like the poor family Golden Retriever did. She would probably get pretty hot this summer too.

So, the first photos are the good looking dog before her shave. She is so unsuspecting.

Well, about halfway through the shave, the electric razor started to overheat, so I let Timber have a break. As you can probably tell, she knows that she is in for more shaving and isn't very happy about it.

The final product wasn't amazing. It's not easy to shave a shivering dog who is trying to crawl away and lick your face at the same time. I'll post a photo in a few days when the cut has started to grow out a little bit, and isn't so mangy looking.

Well, it hasn't grown out yet, but here she is...both on dry ground and swimming, one of her favorite hobbies, only slightly behind licking herself when company is over in terms of habitual actions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things that make me smile....and those that don't.

Things that make me smile...

-Joyful dancing (both watching and doing)
-The first day after winter when I can wear a T-shirt outside
-English spoken as a second language
-CCR -Eagles -Joplin -Boston (OK, I'll just say all classic rock)
-Communicating in a language that isn't English
-My dog sitting at the door wriggling with happiness because she saw from the window that I was walking up the path
-Spell check
-Bike rides
-Meeting new people (as long as they are the type of people who make the world a better place)
-Horseback rides
-My job
-Good TV and/or Movies
-Sharing memories
-Beginning to accomplish or learn something new

Things that don't make me smile...

-People who don't share
-People who hate other groups of people
-Dogs who bark, chew, or try to jump on me
-Children who have to go without all the things I had as a child
-Horses that get all up in my face
-Poor drivers
-People who are rude on the phone
-Rap music
-The Doors (yeah, I know, I tried to like Morrison, I just can't get into it)
-Realizing that I forgot my wallet after I've filled my cart at the grocery store
-Filling out job applications (I think I've broken the three digit mark)
-Standing in front of the white board trying vainly to spell "naive" or other such word in front of a class full of students with pencils poised to copy it down.
-Bad memories

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sponser a child.

So, I was surfing the web, avoiding studying for tests and putting off writing papers that are due soon, (in fact papers and tests that are still due soon) and I found the website, I want desperatly to move to Kenya and volunteer there and teach, but between being a full-time student, being pretty broke, and having a dog, I can't really afford it. I like to live vicariously through my website browsing.

Well, I looked through the website, and it is a little strange. What you can do is choose a country, choose an age, and choose a gender. Then you see photos of children and you pick one to sponsor. This felt wrong to me, something about flipping casually through photos of children and arbitrarily picking one based on what they looked like just seemed a little too much like going to the zoo. (They also have little ten word blurbs about the children, and their family's monthly income.) And as I'm clicking through, if I'm being totally honest, I'm thinking to myself, couldn't they spend a little more time on photos? I mean, I found myself clicking on kids who were smiling. Shouldn't the person taking the photo know that a smiling face could mean the difference between this child getting picked or not? And therefor, between this child getting an education, health care, clothing, and regular meals?

Then I felt a little sick about being the person who makes the decision which child gets to get a sponsorship that would change their life, and which child doesn't. (Which child has to keep begging on the streets and not getting enough to eat at the end of the day, much less an education. Then I felt sick about the vast disparity between their lives and mine, and the money I spend on a regular basis on my dog.) So what I ended up doing was inserting a country, (Zambia) and a gender (girl) and simply choosing the first girl that came up.

Nyamgu lives with her three siblings and their mother, and family of five lives on 25 dollars a month. She is ten years old, but looks a lot older. At first I thought she looked about 14. I think she might look so old because her face is so serious.

I am now financially responsible for Nyamgu's health care, schooling, and regular meals. It's kind of a heady feeling. I mean, you use canvas bags when you go grocery shopping to help the environment, you donate to Red Cross and you even volunteer abroad for five months, and you wonder if you have made any sort of a difference. You wonder if the 1,000 plastic bags you save over your lifetime mean anything, if the money to Red Cross changed anything, you wonder if the students you taught remember any of the things you taught just seems like nothing you do makes a difference. And if you do do your part, it seems like you can never get rid of all the injustice in the world, so why try?

I feel like, I am finally making a difference. This little girl just had a world of opportunities opened to her, just because I decided to stop buying a cup of coffee every day and spend the money on something else. (I know this is starting to sound a little bit too much like the commercial, "For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you could save a child..." but I can't help it! It's true!)

And then I think to myself, why am I sharing this with people? No one else is going to care about my little sponsorship. Well, the main reason is that this blog is mostly for me, as a journal. Also, as lame as this sounds, this little sponsorship has made me really happy. I don't even know this little girl, and I already feel a connection with her. If anyone else wants to feel happy for about the same price you'd spend on a meal for two at AppleBees, you should check out too.