Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Messiness is adjacent to devilishness

In fact, they're next-door neighbors and best friends. Unfortunately, they also spend quite a bit of time here at the good ol' Casa Blanca.

One of the roommates (let's call him, oh, say Horty) seems to love those little packets of sugarless flavoring meant to be added to bottled water. Except he adds them to glasses of water. In essence, there's nothing wrong with this. In practice, however, he always manages to get a fair amount of the cranberry-whatever powder and a little bit of the water on the counter, yielding two results. One, the kitchen is plagued by red stains on every square inch of counter top. Two, the bottom of the glass picks up some of the liquid mess, and deposits red rings wherever Horty places it.

Then, there's the sink. Because we have no dishwasher, the sink is the dish depository. Very rarely do I witness roommates washing dishes. Or emptying the drying rack so that more can be washed. It's gotten so bad that most of us just use paper plates. Another roommate (umm, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management? How about just Goliath, instead?) only uses one glass, which he keeps locked away in his cupboard, so that he'll always have a clean one.

Next, there's the garbage. Apparently, Horty, Archy, and Goliath are in on a game that's never been explained to me. Luckily, having lived with guys like this before, I've been witnessed the ritual. I don't think it has a name, but if it did, I think it would be Pile the Garbage as High above the Top of the Trashcan as Possible. I don't think there is one clear winner in this game, but there's definitely a loser. I can see at least two ways to lose. One, make the pile of garbage fall over. This generally (though not always -- for example, if the event goes unwitnessed, the loser may just restack the garbage, if possible) results in the loser having to clean up and take out the mess (which usually requires two or three more full garbage bags, since it all clearly won't fit in the one in the can). Two, lose your nerve, much like a game of chicken. I'm rather inclined to the latter.

Finally, I present the worst part of this messy house: the unfriendly neighborhood skunk. (Well, apparently not so unfriendly that our neighbors refuse to feed him.) I've been told that Horty once caught him in a trap, but before he was aware and able to do something about it, Sister Stauffer, the secretary at the adjacently-located Institute building, released the skunk. Not even miles away in the country or anything, but right back in the neighborhood! Over the summer, it was an unusual week when we were not made olfactorily aware of his presence two or three times. Fortunately, the frequency dropped off with the advent of the school year. However, last night, he struck again, the first time in a few weeks. He is able to penetrate the thickest of walls, the tightest of windows. Being a nocturnal creature, Mr. Skunk makes our sleeping difficult. Last night, I curled up under my covers, and I managed to sleep like that for a few hours. Until I awoke with a killing pain in my neck.

Some things will surely not be missed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The cliche at the end of the schooling

The thesis defense date is officially set! Monday, November 12, at 2 p.m., I will be presenting An Analysis of an Interrupt-Driven Implementation of the Master-Worker Model with Application-Specific Coprocessors.

I've been told (by the humorously-harsh co-chair of my committee, who is only given such a prominent role because he co-authored the proposal that obtained the research money for this project) to prepare a twenty minute presentation, but to be ready to have it go twice as long due to questions. Incidentally, he and the other co-chair have another meeting at 3 p.m. When I asked if he was certain we'd be done in the sixty minutes the schedule afforded us, he told me that it will take that long "only if [I] fail." I really need to pass this final examination so I can finally get to my job and start earning money again.

Please, oh please, tell me that light isn't a train.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nauseatingly button-like

I want to tell you a little (or not so little) about my family's pets. First, I need to explain the pattern my mom has of giving them not-so-subtle and not-so-original names. Back when I was a child (when I had to walk five miles to and from school through six feet of snow, uphill both ways), my mother was a self-proclaimed "chocoholic." (Clearly this was pre-diabeetis. Once she was diagnosed, she had to go through the twelve steps rather hurriedly.) So, when we got a Siamese cat, she naturally named her Cocoa. We bred her and kept one of the kittens, who got named Fudge. (As a kid, I didn't really think it was strange to go around the house yelling about chocolate in an attempt to find a cat.) Then we got another cat -- all black, but it looked like he would develop some white markings (but they never came), so he got named Oreo. (I know Oreo's don't actually taste like chocolate, but they are supposedly made of chocolate wafers.) The chocolate thing died off with her years ago, but you get the idea.

So, when we more recently (still several months ago) got an orange striped cat, she naturally named him...Tigger. You know, T-I-double guh-er. And that brings us to the present. But really, Tigger is an awesome cat. Unlike our other cat, Lola (named by my younger sister), who is scared of her shadow. Tigger does a number of funny things, including but not limited to lying in very funny positions for hours and getting in the most unusual places in the home. (No, he doesn't use the toilet, sadly.) Yet one of the most noteworthy habits he has (and has thereby caught the notice of our neighbors, who think it is absolutely adorable) is that he follows our large (90 lbs.) dog, Lightning (that one is actually my dad's doing -- the name, not the dog, silly), for walks. He's not at all afraid of the dog that could gobble him up for an appetizer. (Perhaps it's because the dog it old, arthritic, and lethargic -- but whatever. That kind of info ruins the suspense. The dog was once a vicious squirrel and bird chaser. Until he realized they always got away, either up a tree or to the sky.) Aaaaanyway, to the pictures!

Here we have our first glimpse of the phenomenon. He's keeping a leisurely pace, which puts some distance between them.

But Tigger isn't at all concerned about getting all up in Lightning's grill.

He'll even rub himself against the dog. That's brave.

Even though he's old and arthritic, Lightning still has to be held back from chasing things -- and he'll chase just about anything. He's been fooled by leaves being blown along the ground before. So now, he typically takes a more cautious approach and stares down his intended victim first. (I've stood with him for several minutes, as he intensely stares down inanimate objects, like those cement lawn decorations in the shape of a rabbit. Once, he even stared down a life-sized deer statue. He would not let me pull him away for the longest time.)

Here, he's staring down a cat (in the shadow of the tree). Strange, considering he has a perfectly good cat a few feet away. Tigger must intimidate him in a way other cats don't.

Meanwhile, Tigger enjoys the shade.

And Lightning still wants to go after that other cat.

When I said Tigger likes the shade, I meant that he really hates the sunlight. (He's not allergic to it, like me, or vampires, but he still shuns it...like a goth, or a redhead.) He waits in the shade until we get to another shady spot, then runs to us.

That's about how all of our walks go. And now, some of his cute sleeping positions.

He gets a lot of attention by being so cute. So of course, under very specific and rare conditions, when Lola actually wants attention, she takes to mimicking him. (Note that she is not actually sleeping.)