Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tales from the book of Mephistopholes

This is a bad thing, guys. I'm completely enamoured of the sound of that name, and I neither know how to spell it properly, or who the man is. I'm assuming he's a Greek person, though he could as easily be a Greek dish. "Mephistopholes with clam sauce, and a side of spanakopitos, please."

So, on Sunday I got to ride in the truck of fame, all the way to the Theatre on Gay Street (the one right next to the Washington Episcopal Church) to see the Cambride Players put on a production of old Willie's Much Ado About Nothing. I have a feeling I enjoyed it. The ride was certainly a trip. I rode with Rt. Hon. and Joe, listening to a fascinating expose by Rt. Hon. about his future, or lack thereof. I also got to have the distinction and privilege of holding the Turkish Pipe. (Beat that!) It was great fun. The funnest part, though, was before we left campus. Laura couldn't seem to start the car she had borrowed. When Paul came back from having sucessfully started said car, I asked if it were girlproof or something. "Evidently."

Anyway, the Shakespeare was good. They staged the play as if it were in late 1930s England, which made the cartoon aspect of doublet and hose fade into the background somewhat, but the story was very much alive, and a bit old. And a bit cartoonish. According to one critic, a few of the actors were so full of themselves, they were unable to do a good job portraying a person who was full of themself. I didn't get that. Rather, it all just seemed a little rough around the edges. It was a bit coarse, meaning not fine tuned, and perhaps a tad overdone. No, make that a lot overdone. Over the top.

I'm not going to get in to the interpretation of it, because you really had to be there to get what I'm saying. (I say that, now here I go getting into the interpretation anyway.) Suffice to say that there was a very very very very very very very strong undercurrent of, um, well, disordered sorts of, well, um, ahem. Yes. Anyway...yeah. The constable had a thing for the men he was cross-examining. I think that's a nice delicate way to put it. I didn't really appreciate that spin, but not knowing the play very well, but knowing that Shakespeare can get a little spicy, I just tried to overlook it. Roommate #1 says, and she knows the work intimately it being one of her favorites, said that that particular undercurrent did not seem as prevalent in the written work, as the Players decided to make it.

Their call. It did make the entire thing somewhat maudlin, though. There was a girl playing a guy, who was hitting on a guy, who was also being played by a girl. Ugh. However, it was a neatly done performace, there was some real talent, and (if you were like Joe and didn't have your glasses and hence couldn't see a lot of the unpleasant action onstage but were only enjoying the dialogue) the messy bits could be overlooked. It was somewhat heartening, by the way, that it took the elite English people an entire act to slow down and become comprehendable.

Time to go. Test tomorrow. Ciao. (I didn't proofread this. Messy.)

And then, there was cartography, and God said, "Cool."

Dig this. I loved it...

In my opinion, though, there should be the Isthmus of Christendom, or something like that. I'll revise it someday.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A little bit of this....

Sigh. Exams loometh, but I'm determined to let you know I'm still alive.

I'm still alive.

I've added two new links to the sidebar, one for two very special idiots who are Rome for the semester, and one for my goody buddy The Director who has gone home for a hiatus from CC and will come back to get kicked out of the room, once more, come spring.

Don't take any of the above too seriously, should you actually go to the aforementioned linked spots. Very scary stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What is this thing? I've got the picture and I know who sent it to me,
but I'l be darned if I can figure out what it is! I know the people in the cockpit...

Monday, September 12, 2005

All at once, well met

Went into the big big city this afternoon to pick up my glasses. (Big big translating roughly to 'small.') We were being all silly, roommate and I, walking across the parking lot trying on sunglasses and eating Pringles and trying to see who could walk the fastest despite their respective handicaps--high heels for her and a very long skirt for me. We made it, though, articles of clothing notwithstanding, and who should we meet but my own beloved Dr. S..

Imagine! The poor man's wife broke her toe this morning, which caused our classes to get cancelled (one's wife needs a little aid when there are three little ones under four in the house), and so we were pleasantly surprised to see him in town. With him was baby, a very sweet and fuzz-headed tot with a big smile for roommate. No smile for me. I'm not smile-at-able, I think. Anyway, it was really fun to see him with his little one. He smiled and laughed and played with her while roommate was holding her, and as he took her back he winked. Winked! A man who winks at his five month old is so totally smitten.

Life is beautiful.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A beautiful sentiment

In other news, our college was made the recipient of a lovely piece of history last night. Okay, well we didn't exactly recieve it. Somebody's tuition helped pay for it, but we still get to keep it, and have dibs on all the notoriety that goes with it.

At the request of our very own TToD, an oil painting of Pope Benedict XVI was begun (and completed) by a very talented young artist, whose name I cannot remember, to be hung in our commons alongside that of Pope John Paul II, the only other Pope to have reigned during the existence of Christendom. It's a really, truly beautiful half-length portrait and we were all so excited when the president unveiled it at dinner last night.

CC is now the proud owner of one of the first (as in, among the first three) oil paintings to be done of the new Pope, and it's craftmanship is of an order unprecedented. It's going to be featured in Art World Magazine and it already quite famous.

Go us. (-: Viva il papa!


So, I spent the afternoon driving to, around, within, and from the site of the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam to Yankees and the National PArk Service). 23,000 casualties resulted from a two-day battle, and it was the lucky ones who died on the field.

That's more dead men than from the Spanish-American War and War of 1812 combined. Amazing, isn't it? The most frightening bit was walking up Sunken Road from the crossroads to the observation tower--20 feet wide and ten feet deep, it was filled to the brim with troops the day after the battle. The surgeons were using corn husks for bandages when Clara Barton arrived with desperately needed, and all too few, supplies.

But, enough about the unhappy bit. On to the glorious side of war.


I don't think there really was a glorious side to this particular battle, if indeed there ever is one.

But that's all an aside. The really cool part about this particular trip was the drive to and from--listening to a confirmed Southerner, a military kid, and a New Hampshirer debate with much gusto and many large words such topics as abolition, secession, Fort Sumpter, distributism, history, the South, the North, and the advertising habits of Burger King. Oh well. Everything went downhill when I started telling French Revolution jokes.

I think I see the problem...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tis now the very witching hour of night...

When souls all meek and morbid
Sit them down to do the deed
As deadlines fast approaching
And not so far away as night
Toll their dismal wail of doom
Throughout the sleeping campus

And we shudder.

No, actually. I don't shudder--I finished my paper. It's the dozens of frantic souls sitting behind me in the lab who are shuddering. They have 11.5 hours to complete their papers, for history class, no less, and most are still reading the book. They sigh, they groan. They thump their elbows upon the desk with their head in their hands.

It's a good feeling to be on the other side of that emotion, at long last. I finished my paper exactly 3 minutes ago, having lent it to no less that four illustrious personages for their perusal. I forgot to put page numbers on mine. Oops. Anyhow, they're all working so very hard and I feel pity and sorrow and pain for them, somewhere deep in this little heart of mine, because I know where they are. I've been there.

That's Mathematics

Words by Tom Lehrer

(Tune - "That's Entertainment")

This was most likely written for the July 18, 1993, Fermat Fest, held in San Francisco and presented by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. The Fermat Fest was held to celebrate the fact that Andrew Wiles had proven the famous Fermat's Last Theorem that had gone unproven for centuries. Fermat had written in the margin of a notebook that he had come up with a neat little proof of the theorem, but did not have space to write it there. Since then, people many times have claimed to have proven the theorem, but have been proven wrong. It has been speculated that Fermat did not actually have a proof.
(The theorem states that for all integers n > 2, there exist no integers a, b, & c satisfying a^n + b^n = c^n, where ^ denotes exponentiation. Note that n = 2 produces the Pythagorean Theorem of right triangles. The rest of you can look it up when you get home.)

Counting sheep
When you're trying to sleep,
Being fair
When there's something to share,
Being neat
When you're folding a sheet,
That's mathematics!

When a ball
Bounces off of a wall,
When you cook
From a recipe book,
When you know
How much money you owe,
That's mathematics!

How much gold can you hold in an elephant's ear?
When it's noon on the moon, then what time is it here?
If you could count for a year, would you get to infinity,
Or somewhere in that vicinity?

When you choose
How much postage to use,
When you know
What's the chance it will snow,
When you bet
And you end up in debt,
Oh try as you may,
You just can't get away
From mathematics!

Andrew Wiles gently smiles,
Does his thing, and voila!
Q.E.D., we agree,
And we all shout hurrah!
As he confirms what Fermat
Jotted down in that margin,
Which could've used some enlargin'.

Tap your feet,
Keepin' time to a beat,
Of a song
While you're singing along,
With the rest of the guys,
Yes, try as you may,
You just can't get away
From mathematics!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

News Alert

It has been verified that, last week, Japanese scientists released their first model of a 35mm camera with a shutter speed so fast, it can photograph a woman with her mouth shut.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Turabian Days

I finished all but the conclusion of a cute little history paper last night. (This means all the content is in some form of preserved electronic media, and not running loose in my brain.) Now I get to sit down this afternoon, dust off the grammar manuals, and see that it gets into the proper shape and size for turning in on Friday. Sigh. Found a nasty, nasty dangling modifier in Robinson Crusoe (oh, yeah, there's dozens, but this one was really bad) in which it seems that Friday shot a wolf which was in his (Friday's) head. Giggle.

It's been an interesting several days since I really blogged. Obviously, a lot has gone on in the world with hurricanes and chief justices and the like. I should post about them, only many people have already done so and in much better fashion that I could offer to. (DAAGH! I just ended a sentence with a preposition, having spent the last week hollering at my roommate to stop doing so herself. Shame.) A lot has gone on with me, too. I went to Washington DC. Twice. In two days. The first day I went with a little group to experiment with praying and counseling outside Planned Parenthood in the afternoon, rather than in the morning. It was very moving--a lot of women stopped to talk to us, if briefly, whereas in the morning there are many more people moving around, from both sides of the debate, and communicating is more difficult.

Sunday afternoon I went to the Air and Space museum, as you might be able to tell by the pictures I posted...yesterday I think. I don't remember. I'm on drugs and remembering things is difficult. (Stupid head cold.) Anyway, went to the musesm and had a great time--too bad I didn't have someone with me who really knew a ton about plans and stuff, like some family members I know. (-: But, one of the guys who was with us is the son of a personal friend of Patty Wagstaff, having been a pilot for (United?) Airlines while she was a flight attendant. Cool, yes? All these retired-military kids are entertaining to have around.

That reminds me of something esle I discovered in the last couple days: Google Earth. Talk about something addictive...there were over a dozen of us here in the lab yesterday, looking up everybody and their attorney's adresses, shwoing pictures, and marvelling at the terror instilled in one's heart by the idea that anyone and everyone has access to detailed satellite images of your entire world. Campus looks pretty sweet from up there, though, I must admit.

All else is interesting but not really writeworthy, in my humble opinion. I'm convinced that my Political Science teacher is an anarchist. The director of the fall play finally finished casting the thing yesterday at lunch, so now I know who I get to work with the rest of the semester. (And who we'll have to costume....gosh. Did he have to be to tall?) Helping with the call-back auditions was a really cool experience. It was fun, and enlightening, to create different combinations of actors/actresses and see how the dynamics changed with the characters. It was also interesting to see how each person approached the entire audition differently. Confidence in personal ability is a good thing--it gives you power and a sense of presence. Confidence in your getting the part is a bad thing--it gives you overpowering presence and intimidates the atmosphere in the room. Whether conscious of it or not, many intense players have that overweening effect. It was funny to me that I sensed it, as did a couple other people, but the director herself did not. I think she was too zoned in on the actual people and how they were playing the part, to concern herself with how they were playing the room.

A good call. After all, it's the part she needs to concern herself with. It was a tough call for one character, though. We disagreed, at the fundamental level, on who to cast in the lead. (One of the leads, I should say.) She wanted someone with a great deal of power and presence, who acted well and seemed very adaptable. I wanted someone who was a little quieter, whom we know to be adaptable, but who unfortunately did not bring a lot of power to the role during the audition. What to do? It's so very hard to choose between two people who are so good!

D says 'I can reign her in.'
I say 'She's an unknown quantity. Are you sure?'
D says I made this mistake last year and couldn't keep someone in check.'
I say 'Your call.'

She picked her. I think, as a director, she can reign her in and do a good job molding the character, but I shudder at the faint, nagging possibility in my mind that there might be extra-theatrical personality clashes in the works. (I know she's reading this, too. Sorry!) I know that Ms. X was good and directable and everything in the audition, but isn't that the point of an audition? Wouldn't one want to be as placating and meek as possible in an audition, to show that one is cooperative? It seems that, once you've got the part, you're more than welcome to settle down in what you think is the proper characterization, and let the director just direct until she's blue in the face.

We'll see what happens. I think, in the end, she made a good choice, based on the fact that she did prefer Ms. X, personally. I hate working with someone who is unhappy with a lead they cast. Ugh. Anyway. Anyway, anyway, anyway.

I had fun, and am now looking forward to getting down to business with this play. Now that my first paper (of 7) for the semester is complete. Must clean room.

Semper fidelis...

To any casual observer visiting the F-11A pistol and battlesight zero range here, 1st Lt. Charles E. Hayter, a 26-year-old native of Billings, Mont., looks like any run-of-the-mill platoon commander… standing, watching over his Marines as they zero their rifles before they deploy to Iraq.

A closer examination might reveal otherwise, but it would have to be a real close observation. The only telltale sign would be the tightness of one boot over the other and it’s rigid appearance, because inside that boot exists a prosthetic. Hayter, platoon commander for the Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, has no right foot.

On July 9, 2004, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, led by then-2nd Lt. Hayter, left the perimeter at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, to investigate the sight where a U.S. Army patrol received fire the day prior.

“We moved about seven [kilometers] northeast of Bagram and established a [Vehicle Check Point] for a while, we then mounted up and moved to where the firefight took place,” said Hayter. At the supposed spot where the previous day’s fighting took place, they found what seemed to be a well-traveled foot trail, according to Hayter.

“We dismounted the Humvee’s and swept up the trail, four Marines on the left and four on the right. I made it about 15 feet and stepped on an Italian toe popper,” he said.

An Italian toe-popper is a small anti-personnel landmine. The mine shredded his foot and immediately cauterized the wound. “It hurt like you wouldn’t believe,” said Hayter. After the detonation, Hayter remained standing. He slowly turned around, sat down and gathered his wits about him. At this point, the Marines around him, though constantly vigil before the explosion, took control. The Marines in the patrol immediately established security and began clearing the way for mines to Hayter to get him medical attention and evacuate him. One of his lance corporals called in for the medical evacuation, or Medevac, according to Hayter. The whole process of getting Hayter back to Bagram Airbase was conducted professionally and quickly. According to Hayter, the 30-minute drive to get to where he was wounded took the Marines about eight minutes on the return trip.

“Things were done as they were supposed to be. My Marines did it right,” he said.Once back at Bagram, he immediately went in to surgery and soon after was evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. “At Germany, I had some [camouflage utilities] with me and got a hold of some crutches and went and sought out other wounded Marines,” said Hayter. Meeting the wounded Marines, most coming out of Iraq, served as a huge element of motivation for Hayter, he said. After spending roughly four days in Germany, he was further evacuated to the United States, namely Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

He arrived back at Camp Lejeune soon after and was promoted to first lieutenant as well as received countless visits from various Marines aboard base including Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, currently the III Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commanding general. However, the newly promoted Hayter had a decision to make. “Everyone was talking to me about medical retirement and what my options are after the Marines Corps. At [Naval Medical Center Portsmouth] I met a Navy SEAL who had had a limb amputated but was working toward going back on full duty with a SEAL Team and deployed with them. That’s when I decided to stay in the Marines,” Hayter explained.

His foot, however, was still a concern. He still had his heel and after numerous reconstructive surgeries would still be able to keep his foot. The other option given to amputate his leg at mid-shin. The recovery time would be faster and would get him back to work just as fast. Hayter did what most people would abhor, he opted for amputation.

After spending only nine days at Portsmouth, he returned to Camp Lejeune and checked in to the 6th Marine Regimental Headquarters and immediately went to conducting his own physical training… getting back in shape. “When I would go to the gym, other Marines would come up to me and say I motivate them. To me, it was the other way around. It’s what’s instilled, the ability to adapt and overcome. I hope all Marines can do the same,” he said.

The regimental headquarters started a football team, knowing Hayter’s love for the game. Hayter had played during his days at Carroll College in Wisconsin. Three months after his amputation, he was back on the field. “No one felt sorry for me, they basically told me to ‘suck it up’ which really helped,” said Hayter.Lieutenant Col. Julian D. Alford, commanding officer, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, offered Hayter the command of a platoon in the battalion if he was able to get back on full duty status. Once Hayter felt he was able to return, he made the trip to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he was screened. “I met a lot of wounded Marines there who wanted to return to full duty. I drew strength from them,” he said.

At Walter Reed, they gave him the final stamp of approval to return to full duty as an amputee. He then took command of a platoon in 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines as promised, where he serves today. With his most recent run time of 26:40 on his Physical Fitness Test, he should have no problem staying in the Marine Corps as long as he’s needed. “When a Marine gets wounded, he doesn’t want to feel alienated, he wants to feel he still belongs and that he’s still able to be a value to the Marine Corps. The biggest thing we can do for our fallen is to take these guys in, not baby them, give them a challenge, and make them feel like Marines again,” Hayter said.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Some pictures of a beautiful thing.

Yeah, I know I posted about the F-14 a while back, but this big guy here is the real love of my life! Thanks you, Air and Space Smithsonian, for saving one of them for me to see. (-:

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Back to the USSR.

No, not really. Just back to campus, after a long afternoon spent at the Air and Space Smithsonian's satellite campus at Dulles International Ariport.

It was really fun. (This post is going to be so stunted. I can feel it.) I saw many planes that I was familiar with, saw many more that I was unfamiliar with, saw my favoritest airplane in the whole world which I shall post a picture of tomorrow, and just generally had a good time.

The highlight, though, was the drive, mainly because the weather up here has been so beautiful. Clear blue sky, gentle breeze, not too hot...that's paradise.