Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 60: Finals Week

          Let me begin by saying that I cannot take credit for this. This was a funny article my mom found stashed amidst some old school work, and I enjoyed it so much I had to publish it. This is an excellent time to rediscover this too, as I happen to be facing some finals of my own...

                                                 Finals Week

          And it came to pass that early in the morning of the last day of the semester, there arose a multitude smiting their books and wailing. And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, for they were sore afraid. The day of judgment was at hand. For they left undone those things which they ought to have done and had done those things which they ought not to have done. And there was not help for it.

          And there were many abiding in their rooms who had kept watch over their books all night, but it availeth not. And there were some who arose smilingly, for they had prepared for themselves the way; and made straight the path of knowledge. And there were wise ones known to some as burners of the midnight oil. But by others they were called the curve-spoilers. And the multitude arose and ate a hearty breakfast.

          And they came unto their appointed place, and their hearts were heavy within them. And they came to pass, and some passed not, and others only passed out. And some of them repented their riotous living, and bemoaned their fate, but they had not a prayer.

          And at the last hour, there came among them one known as the instructor, he of the diabolical smile, and he passed papers among them and went his way. And many and varied were the questions asked by the instructor, but still more varied were the answers which were given, for some of his teachings had fallen among fertile minds, and others had fallen fallow among the fellows while still others had fallen flat. And there were some who wrote for an hour, others for two, and some who only turned away sorrowfully.

          And of those, many offered up a little sacrificial bull, in hopes of pacifying the instructor, for those were the ones who had not a prayer. And when they had finished, they gathered up their belongings and went away quietly, each in his own direction. And each one vowing to himself in this manner: “I shall not pass this way again.” But it is a long road that has no turning.

          I.E. May 1970

Captain's Log, Day 59: Character Profile--now you know where my insanity comes from

          Meet my family! Kinda...not like I'm going to post any pictures up here or anything, but I thought a brief character description would be both enlightening and amusing. (For personal health reasons, this will not be posted until AFTER I get back from Thanksgiving break.)
          Dad: Unfortunately, I appear to have inherited his sense of humor; I can admit that it's rather lame, but I think it's also really funny. He's the go-to man as far as fixing stuff is concerned, although he has passed much of his knowledge and his chores off to me at this point. I guess he's also where I get my love of all things mechanical. Considering he's a mechanical engineer and I'm studying to be a mechanical engineer, you could say "like father, like son!" He's also the science/math teacher for our homeschool...let me tell you, you've never done math until you've tried learning trig while your math teacher's playing Aerosmith and doing air guitar. Just sayin'.
          Mom: She is the driving force behind our learning, considering that she pretty much organized our entire curriculum and taught most of it. An English major, she is an excellent writer and kinda wishes I was going to major in English instead of engineering. I told her once that I didn't want to take anything "so easy" as English. She got a little annoyed. As the most Italian, she is the most outgoing of our family (Dad the German has perfected his "Do I LOOK like a people person?" face at this point. ). She's also an excellent cook. The best way my family has found to torture me while at college is to call me up and give me the menu for tonight. Evil buggers...I have to eat CAF food!!!
          Quill: The next oldest after me, Quill is following the path of the Dark Side (ie, she wants to be an English Major like Mom instead of becoming an engineer like Dad or myself). She absolutely loves reading, which might be how and why she scored a job at our local library. She's read most of the books there already. She also enjoys playing Robin Hood with the rest of her siblings, although we have some discussions--blood not usually involved--on why she can't be Robin Hood (mostly because either Nemesis or I called it first!). She can also cook, although she tends more towards the dessert side of the food spectrum.
          Nemesis: Big bundle of evil. If I come home to a booby-trapped room one more time, I may have to retaliate with rockets. Nemesis is incredibly good with math; when playing dominos, we usually just pass our tiles over to Nemesis for him to count. All he has to do is glance at them and he has the number. Scary. He is a Lego enthusiast and has half the world's supply of Legos downstairs. Not only that, Nemesis is really good with a piano and can rhyme anything ("rambunction" and "function" being one of the more impressive combinations) and can beat me at any computer game ever invented, which is a bit embarrassing for me. He's also takes Taekwondo like me, although he's not quite to my belt level yet and I can still kick his butt. Probably a good thing, considering Nemesis's about as tall as I am and outweighs me by about 30 pounds. Please excuse me, I'm gonna go hit the caf again...
          Squirrel: The youngest of the family, Squirrel has inherited the combined sweet tooth of everyone in the household and the genius of her brothers at concealing things; a surprise raid of her room once yielded ten hidden stashes of candy, and that was just the stuff we found. She, too, loves cooking, and she is definitely devoted to the sugar stash in the cupboard--if it can't be used in a recipe, the recipe's no good! Squirrel also recently outgrew her older sister, who is decidedly NOT pleased about that, as she is now the shortest person in the family! An art lover, Squirrel's also thinking about a career as a fashion designer; she's good at sewing, but I would never ask her to mend my jeans because they would probably end up with lace on them or something.
          Max: He's our golden retriever and definitely a legit part of our family. I'll be the first to admit he's not the smartest dog out there, but he's really friendly and always up for "fetch," or "get the ball and chase me," depending on how he feels that day. In the winter, his favorite games are "snow romps" and "chase the snowblower until Dad turns the nozzle suddenly and buries me;" in the summer, he can be found fishing in the pond (I don't think he's ever caught anything) and rolling in every mud puddle he can find. Max is usually my companion when we go exploring in the woods, but all bets are off if he sees a squirrel--I'm on my own after that.
          So, this is my crazy family...gotta love 'em, right? :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 58: Thanksgiving with My Family! (and all the ensuing craziness)

          And now, I shall recount some Thanksgiving Day adventures!
          A typical Thanksgiving tale must start on the day before, as that is when the Great Rejoicing starts (NO SCHOOL!!!!!!!!). Since we are going to our grandparents' house the next day, it only makes sense for my siblings and me to go run out into the woods and get as banged up as we can without warranting a trip to the hospital. Also, this is sometimes when we do our annual family watching of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." It's been a tradition in my home for as long as I can remember...
          Anyway, after staying up waaay too late to be any kind of ready for early church the next day, we wake up to a very cheerful dad, who takes gleeful pleasure in rousting our kiesters out of our warm beds and into the car. After Mass, we have a light breakfast before piling into the car to go to our grandparents' farm. It's about an hour drive, as a normal person drives; Dad breaks all speed limits, including that of light, Mom naps, I nap, and my siblings either read or play Mad Libs. Seems like every time they do that, they must use the words "warthog," "rototiller," "exploded," and "antidisestablimentarianism," which I would hope they used a shorthand for, else it would take them longer to spell the word than it would take to play the game!
          The car ride over, we enter our grandparents' house and make the necessary greetings and small talk before vanishing into the basement. Our cousins are always there before us, and they (predictably) have divided the basement and segregated themselves by gender: boys get one half, girls get the other. Also predictably, the boys' half is larger; they probably started out equally sized, but the boys have been practicing combat maneuvers for a while, causing the girls to retreat due to fear of death by Nerf. My brother and I pick up a couple guns (although sometimes we bring our own, which we prefer--our are MODIFIED!!!!) and enter the fray. I have no idea what the girls left to go do. Probably playing tea party or something equally boring.
          And hour afterwards, it's DINNERTIME!!! The segregation continues; the girls get to eat in the living room, the boys in the craft room. Can't fault Grandma for the wisdom of that one; the food fights that occasionally break out amongst my male cousins would quickly prove fatal to anything "nice." As the oldest, it's my job to try to suppress such outbreaks. Fortunately, I've been gifted with a long arm and a good eye; a whack upside the head typically ends a would-be food thrower's attempt. At the least, it scrambles his aim enough that the food ends up on the table somewhere, instead of, say, the wall. Or someone else's face, which would definitely escalate the conflict.
          The piranha now having finished inhaling every bit of food in the vicinity, we break for games, typically outside on the haystack. This is usually gender-inclusive, as we do not have the man-power to hold the giant haystack against intruders (not to say we haven't tried). Once the girls gain the top, we put aside animosity and hold a rousing game of tag. Occasionally, we must stop and rescue someone who has fallen down between the bales, but that's not as common of an occurrence as one might think. Of course, my relatives and I have usually had so much pie that we're on a sugar high and are vibrating out of the visible spectrum, thus making any sort of falling extremely difficult, owing to the fact that we can now flap our arms fast enough to fly...
          Sometimes, it's warm enough for a kickball game, although a Minnesota November is typically enough to make polar bears migrate south, so that doesn't happen often. We usually stay on the haybales until we can't feel our fingers, toes or kiesters anymore, at which point it's usually time for my family and me to hit the road anyway. So, my siblings and I brush the hay off each other, bid farewell to the relatives, climb into the car and crash before Dad pulls out onto the highway.
          After this, we have a light dinner at home and then go to bed early, after vowing to unclog the shower drains of all the hay and dirt tomorrow. Thus ends Thanksgiving with my family!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 57: Mozart, I am NOT

          It's embarrassing. It really is.
          My younger brother Nemesis is a piano master, or he's getting there anyway. My mom and my sisters can handle a piano with proficiency, too, and my dad can sing (sort of--we tend to object to either the lyrics or the moment, or both...for instance, making up new lines to songs during math class. The joys of being homeschooled!). However, I can't carry a tune with both hands and a bucket. Depressing.
          That's not to say I haven't tried. I did a little piano before determining I lacked the coordination necessary to hit the stupid keys at the right time. Then I tried trumpet for four years. Mom made me practice in her room, which was probably the furthest from all living areas. I don't think I blame her. After that, I went back to piano for a year, but quickly determined that I had not magically gained the coordination necessary for it. I don't even need to walk into a choir tryout to know that I'm not a singer, either; the expressions on the faces of my immediate family members let me know exactly how good I was on that score.
          I still sing, though--I just do it where no one can hear me or the music I'm singing to is turned up loud enough to drown me out. Sometimes both; I don't like listening to my singing either!!
          Actually, I was discussing my musical shortcomings with my friend Sammi the other day (we'd been discussing various instruments). I mentioned that my singing wasn't so great, and without missing a beat, she said, "Oh yeah. I heard you in church!"
          It's hard to look indignant when you're laughing your head off. Just saying.
          Ah yes, I can't even write good songs; annoying, as Nemesis can drop good poetry off the top of his head, and Quill's not far behind. (I may have mentioned this before, but it BUGS ME! I look at some of his poetry and question whether one of us was adopted...) I tried to write a song a few times. It sounded good in my head, but when I put it on paper (or screen--I can't read my own handwriting), it kinda sucked. I deleted it and put it back in my head for better listening.
          Now, this does not mean I can't assist my siblings in spoofing songs, of course. We've come up with some great cooperative lyrics that are worthy of Weird Al. Our favorite is probably "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver. We may have been a tad harsh towards fiddle-players and farm boys (ironic, considering that we live on a farm). Our favorite verse that we made up:

          I'd play my fiddle all day if I could
          But my neighbors' got a gun and what they're planning ain't good
          Gonna put me underground in a box made of wood...
          Thank God I'm a country boy!

          Thought Dad was going to pass out after hearing that one, he was laughing so hard. We're glad we could spread some joy this way! I kinda wish I'd been able to join the sibs in singing that, though. Yeah; musically inclined, I am not!
          ...can't even whistle...