Friday, March 30, 2007

entering yosemite

One week ago at this time (give or take two hours), I was in Yosemite. One week ago at this time (give or take two hours), I almost ran the car into a redwood tree when I rounded a curve and saw a sight something like this (see photo and click to embiggen).

I say "something" like this because this photo was actually taken as we left Yosemite Valley on Sunday, while standing at Tunnel View.

I don't remember if any photos were taken as we entered the park on Friday night . It was all too overwhelming.

Thankfully there was a crazy full little waterfall next to a turn-out, so we stopped and took a moment.

"Tomorrow I will be among the sublimities of Yosemite and forget that ever a thought of civilization or time-honored proprieties came among my pathless, lawless thoughts and wanderings."—John Muir in letter to his brother, 1869
It was dusky as we drove into the Valley, but that didn't stop us (and everyone else) from stopping every so often and marveling at things. Just the crystal clear water of the Merced River was enough to amaze me, but then I turned my head to the right and noticed Bridalveil. Damn high waterfall, right? Except Bridalveil is "only" 620 feet high. We would stand at the base of it the next day and get drenched in the mist.

We managed to get to Curry Village without incident and settled in for the night. As Linda read through the book of hikes ("sounds good!" I said to just about every one), I fell fast asleep.

Top photo by Linda and I was standing right behind her. Bridalveil photo by Flickr user jfew, taken a month or so ago (and I don't know him at all but thanks for sharing on Flickr).


Thursday, March 29, 2007

critters and crumbs

I was going to call this post a rebuttal to Linda's post, "Things that go bump in the night" but really there isn't anything terribly inaccurate in her post, save a few things I will correct for the record.

If you haven't read her post, I recommend you do so. It's pure comedy gold, and I come out looking like an enormous doofus, so it's all good.

[ok, you're back? great. here's what I have to say...]

* We really did hike seven miles. Why? Because Linda was in charge of the map and we MISSED A FOOTBRIDGE. Thank god we didn't tackle a long and complicated hike, else I'm sure we would have ended up in Nevada.

* To this: "But I, being the experienced outdoors person, thought, 'Bears, schmears. They can't open doors. How would they get in here to get our granola bars and cookies?'" I say...Dude! Did you not see the video they were playing over and over while we waited to check in? Bears, clearly opening things.

* To this: "Before we left for Yosemite she had her car detailed to get every last crumb out of it so as not attract them and encourage them to break the windows or anything." It's true. I did this.

* To this: "She takes the bears and warnings seriously." Well DUH...they're BEARS!

* Ok, when I saw the mouse I did not say "There's something in the plastic bag on the desk. I saw its beaty little eyes. I think it's a mouse, and you're going to have to take care of it." What I did say/do was:

- Turn the light on. Saw mouse. Thought I was crazy. Turned light off.
- Heard mouse again. Turned light on. Saw mouse again. Mouse was nonplussed.
- Stood up, walked over to Linda and poked at her. "Linda," I said.
- "Mnkndmdsnmnasmnfm," she said.
- "There is a mouse in here. Will you please take care of it," I said. Note that I SAID PLEASE.

* She did halfheartedly shove at my crap on the desk and saw no mouse, then returned to the comforts of her comforter and went immediately back to sleep.

* Did I not mention in the previous post that silence and darkness really freaks me out? Ask my mother. It always has.

* The silence was soon broken as the cheeky little mouse came back. I turned the light on, Linda finally saw it, and hilarity ensued.

* I proceeded to stare at the ceiling in the darkness for awhile, but when the sound of something heavier than a tree branch scrambled across the room, I turned the light on and stayed that way all night.

No, I have no idea what the light was supposed to do. Last I checked, animals do perfectly well in the light as they do in the dark.

* To this: "It doesn't bother me to share space with the critters, but Julie seemed much more concerned." I don't know what freaked me out. I like critters. I cultivated squirrels and ducks and all sorts of nature in my backyardish area. If I met the mouse outside or even in a tent cabin, it wouldn't have freaked me out at all. So I'm a weirdo. That's not new.

* To this: "Julie, however, was convinced it was a bear and started worrying about bears, because, you know, if a mouse could get in the cabin, a bear most certainly could too!" In my defense, Karen thought it was perfectly logical. SO THERE.

* From this point of the trip on, anytime I said something smartassed (which was often, because that's what I do), I was good enough to follow it up ON MY OWN with "I know, I know, shut the fuck up, mouse girl."


household back to normal / Linda's day 1 in CA

back to normalThis is a photo of my two black cats/blobs of fur, sitting on the couch as if a houseguest had never been here...but the little one is still a little anxious. She needs a kitty valium or something.

It's been several days since I returned from Yosemite, and I realize I haven't really written a darn thing about it. Reasons include the reasons I had to go to Yosemite in the first place. So far Linda's written about arriving in California, which is all fun and games. I think what I'll do is write my posts behind her posts so you can get the backstory/things she's left out for propriety's sake (or whatever).

You'll note that her first post is about drinking. The beverage of choice is a Key Lime Pie martini. I wasn't kidding when I told her I used up my allotment of clever when I came up with that as the first stop on the trip. You see, a few weeks ago Linda did a brave thing when she went and told her mom about her touch of teh gay. Doesn't matter how old you are (and boy howdy is Linda old [I know, I know, "shut up, mouse girl"]), it's always a rough thing. So a series of comments on that post devolved from patting her on the back and telling her how brave she was to threatening to withhold the traditional coming out pie. Of COURSE I meant it in a fairly irreverent way, although why I dragged seeker into that I don't know, and where I thought I was going to find some clean hookers, I also don't know, so thankfully the rest of the comments were all about literal pie and thus I just went with it.

Except there's also the traditional drinking that goes along with such a feat. Since I knew we were having sushi when she got into town (literal sushi from a Japanese restaurant, thank you very much), I wasn't sure how the drinking and pie-eating would work out. Also, I didn't have time to bake a pie. Then I remembered my buddy telling me about the various pie-flavored martinis at PF Chang's, and a plan was born. Two very determined people stormed into the bar area (ok, one determined person and one very trusting person) and ordered up two key lime pie martinis. They were quickly downed and we were on our way to stop number two: sushi.

Now, I love me some sushi. I could eat it every damn day. As Linda comments in her post, "Sushi eating with Julie is not just a meal; it's an event. There's no dainty nibbling on a roll or two and a few pieces of fish. The table is filled and everyone feasts." 'Tis true. However, what she's really trying to say is that I'm a big fat sushi hog and we eat sushi in waves. Carpaccio, several rolls, then white tuna sashimi and several more rolls...lather, rinse, repeat. Sometimes if there's room there's tempura fried ice cream, but there was no room this time. There was beer, however. Throughout the dinner, Linda kept referring to the crappy-ass sushi place in her town, the only one, and how it's run by some white people who seem not to understand what sushi is all about. I'm afraid for her.

After dinner, we wandered back to my condo whereupon Max began to whore himself all over her and Deuce hid and hid and hid and hid for days and days and days. She's better now. I think we watched crappy TV for awhile and then Linda went off to the bedroom with my warning: "I hope the bed's ok. I've never slept in it." It's true. I sleep on the couch all.the.time. It goes along with my fear of the silence and the dark. [Remember that fact for future stories.]

The plan wasn't to leave right away on Friday, because I still had to work at least until noon and until my boss said it was ok to go. So I sat on my ass in the morning while Linda went for a run. I think my ass got bigger just because of that. She came back from the run and I was still sitting on my ass, and I felt bad because what kind of host makes her guest sit around and watch Little House on the Prairie reruns while she works? A crappy one. So I asked if she wanted anything to eat and I whipped up some breakfast: eggs, toast, hash browns, grits. As she says in her post, it was through a true act of friendship that I allowed her to put sugar on her grits. She was still harping about this sugar-in-grits things several days later, at which time a complete stranger at the food court in Yosemite Lodge informed her that, indeed, sugar-in-grits was disgusting.

route through CATwo hours later, my boss said we could leave. Hooray! I was hungry, so we stopped for lunch (since I hadn't eaten yet, only Linda had) and then to Target for some film, and off we went on the first leg of the journey: to Yosemite. I was a terrible California driver, as no less than thirty minutes into the trip my work called and we had some emergency thing that falls under the list of things that I deal with. So I drove while talking on my cel for 40 minutes, walking my co-worker through exactly the things to type and where and how. Fun for all.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

start planning the next vacation-from-the-blogosphere: yellowstone, anyone?

During the hiking in Yosemite, we talked a lot about our buddies in the blogosphere. jo(e) and Phantom and seeker, I'm looking at you all, to name but a few.

We decided that with ample planning, we really ought to do this more often. We were thinking maybe next year we could all meet up in Yellowstone, or Zion, or hell even Yosemite again. Anyone and everyone is welcome (especially kids!).

Who's game?


yosemite posts forthcoming (i swear)

Linda and I decided to divvy up the posts about vacation/Yosemite this way:

* Linda: in charge of all things picturesque and natural
* Julie: in charge of food, travel, comic relief

Why? Because she has all the pictures.

But do not worry, because I will also talk about nature and she will also talk about food.

I've already planned my next jaunt over to Yosemite (before I leave for Pullman). I'm a total moron for not realizing how incredibly close it is. I mean really, I'm a huge freaking moron.

But alas!


Monday, March 26, 2007

bouldering: it's all about the ass

I promise there will be more Yosemite talk soon, especially after Linda gets her photos developed (I don't own a camera) and I have more than a few moments here and there.


One of the many things I saw and/or learned about on this trip is of bouldering. No, I do not boulder. I have the upper body strength of a gnat. In order for me to boulder, I determined I'd have to lose approximately one-half my body weight and become two or more times stronger. I don't see either thing happening anytime soon.

But my buddy Jim and his lovely wife Karen (and a climbing pal of theirs) do the bouldering thing, and they were in Yosemite this weekend as well. Much fun was had by all.

On Saturday, after Linda and I did a hiking thing, we went out to see the bouldering crew doing their thing. Apparently all one really needs is a big rock and a great deal of imagination, although Jim says that sometimes beer helps. We sat and watched them tackle two different rocks for a good hour-plus. Bouldering is all about problem-solving and determination.

It is also clearly about the ass:

[click to embiggen]

[click to embiggen]

[click to embiggen]

Pictured here from L to R are: Karen's ass, climber pal's ass, Jim's ass.


Sunday, March 25, 2007


was very cool.


Friday, March 23, 2007

vista, scribefire, and shiny new computers

I finally turned on my shiny new laptop, the one I mentioned a week ago. Actually, it's not shiny at all. It's matte black. That's fine. It's also a lot lighter than its behemoth older sibling. I didn't expect it to be, but it is.

So far, I have had zero problems with its Vista-ness. After I wiped away a bunch of stuff and rearranged things to my liking, the only issues I have are: the large desktop icons (although they're growing on me) and the fact that the Cisco VPN client for Vista hasn't been released officially, which means I can't get it from our client-who-requires-we-use-it-to-connect-to-their-network, which means I have two laptops on my table and have to unplug the DSL and switch over to the other computer just to do work things for this particular client. It's really annoying.

Last night I fired up the laptop and my Performancing for Firefox blog editor extension had turned ORANGE. Orange is not a color I dig, in general, so it was a little disconcerting. Turns out that the PFF extension is now called ScribeFire. Ok, whatever. It still works for me. So a word to all you PFF/now Scribefire users: it's ok.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled non-computerish blog.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

one more class to teach, then spring break!

Tomorrow, 7:30am. Darn right I made an essay due on that day. Otherwise, I'm sure no one would show up.

Then again, probably a bunch won't show up anyway. This semester's students are quite different from last semester's group of students, and it's not just in my classes. Other profs are noting there's something off this semester. Also, in the non-English Dept. class (I grade some things for it, and facilitate some stuff), there are a ton of...let's just say "different" students. It's a challenge.

With my comp sections, I have maybe a solid group of 20 out of 43 students. Last semester I had a solid 20 or so out of 24. Quick polls in other comp sections show this to be the norm. Something about the percentage of repeat students (it's ABC/NC and students can just keep on trying until they get that C) from Fall semester.

Anyway, everyone needs a break from each other. I need to work on my thesis. Things like that.

One more class.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

not all authors are "he"

why? why do students do this?

ANNE Lamott.

ANNE is not a man's name.

Really people, come on.

Then again, for the final exam last semester, I told them all to refer to the author as "she" and only half of them actually did.

In that instance, the "he" was Adrienne Rich. Discuss.


Friday, March 16, 2007

final results and other stuff

Although I made up my mind ages ago (Go Cougars!), here are the final results of school acceptances/rejections:

* accepted at: UC-Davis, Washington State, New Mexico
* rejected from: Washington, Rice, Oregon

I already have a place to live in Pullman. It's a 2BR duplex (hooray! a reading room!), bigger than my condo, and the rent is 31% of my current mortgage payment. It's also a 10-minute walk to the center of campus. Very exciting. I'll probably move up there in early June.

I turned in a drafty third of my thesis. Whew.

I also got a shiny new laptop. My current laptop (Gateway M675) is still pretty awesome, but it's four years old and I figured I should upgrade now when I have the money. I am a loyal Gateway customer, and my new laptop is a custom (read: tons of RAM) Gateway NX860S. It's a Vista machine. I played around with Vista the other day when I was helping the mentor prof family deal with their new desktop. Once I turn off the annoying man in a dark suit (if you've seen the Apple vs PC ad you'll know what I'm talking about) it'll be fine.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


This is exactly how I feel right now.
WAAAAY too much to do, not enough time to do it in.
Did you know March 24th is Shutdown Day?
Darn right I'll shutdown on that day. Muir would come back from the dead and kick my ass if I didn't, since I'll be in Yosemite.


Friday, March 9, 2007

I made a student cry

...because she was laughing so hard.

Whew! That was a close one! Thought for a minute I was one of my fellow TAs who, last semester, told a student after the diagnostic essay there was no way she'd pass his class. She cried on the spot, and lo and behold she NC'd the class. She's in my section now. So far, she's earned a B. I would like to smack my fellow TA very, very hard. Helllooo? Ever hear of "self-fulfilling prophecy"? Jackass.


They wrote their "process" essays and on the day they were due I said that anyone who wanted to stand up and summarize/present their essays for extra participation points could do so. One of my students is a funny/fun girl who takes a lot of good-natured ribbing from me as well as the rest of the class because she's a blurter. Suffice to say that she summarized her essay and in doing so she...let's just say "misinterpreted" some aspects of the religious ceremony she was discussing (she picked it, as part of the "talk about a family tradition" option). Let's also just say that several other students in the class also practice this particular religion, a tad more seriously than this particular student. And they let her know it, in a good-natured way.

For instance: "Dude! It's from the ancient Sanskrit! It's not just 'sounds'"

I think you had to be there. It was pretty funny.

I was sitting in the back while listening to the presentations, and all I could see was this girl in her seat, wiping away tears and I said "oh shit! are you crying?" and she said "yes!" and I said "oh shit" (in my head this time) and then she turned around and we all saw it was because she was laughing so hard.

thank. dog.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

thesis and schools and decisions

First things first: I am almost healthy again. Whoo hoo! I've been sick for over a week. I never did cancel class. I figured if I made it in on the day I felt the worst, why should I cancel on days that I actually felt better than total shit? It worked out.

CSU Research Competition: I did present my research/methodology at the local level of the CSU research competition (last week). It was interesting. It's difficult to turn "I read a hell of a lot of books and articles" into a presentation. But I did. People read from notes, and I planned to do that as well. But when I got into the room I noticed there wasn't a podium. In other words, nowhere to place my handy sheets of paper. So I tossed the paper aside and just spoke extemporaneously—I'm much better at that anyway. Although I sounded a lot more informal than others probably did, I'm sure I displayed knowledge and emotion about my topic. I was asked three really good questions and I gave three really good answers. Even if I don't move on to the CSU-wide level, it was a good experience and several faculty patted me on the back (virtually) for representing the department. Go English!

Thesis: After coming to terms with the reality of my work work schedule, I decided it would be best to re-file for graduation in August instead of May so that I could take an extra few weeks to finish up the thesis. My thesis advisor thought that was a fine idea since it was becoming clear there'd be no way in hell that I could get the thing to readers in the next week and get the final final version to grad studies by April 4th. Instead, I'll get it to readers by April 15th and to grad studies by the end of May. This is still before the end of the semester, so I really will be's just a paperwork thing. My school of choice has no problem with this plan (and yes I do have it in writing!), realizing that my transcript-with-posted-degree won't show up until after the fall semester has begun.

As for the thesis itself, I'm enjoying it. This past weekend I had two complete days to work on it, and work on it I did! It's all crystal clear now, and I can see at least two other articles coming out of the research. And to think this isn't even my intended area of specialization. It's certainly related, but it's not all that close. I didn't feel so bad about this after my thesis director told me that he wrote his MA thesis on 17th Century English poetry (he does 19th Century American). Ha!

Conf Presentation: I'm going to present a (very scaled-down version) of my thesis at the UC-Riverside grad student conference in April, on the "Nature and the Natural World in Literature" panel. Hooray nature!

Grad Schools: I have heard from 5 of 6 schools. Out of those 5, 3 said yes and 2 said no.

For the past four weeks I've been holding on to the acceptance/funding offer from #2 choice. I did the pros & cons list, and I ignored the feeling of being wanted so I could make a rational decision.

I talked to many people. As you can imagine, my profs were non-committal. They were very pleased but of course weren't going to say "you should go [here] or [here]" because then they'd be on the hook for my decision. I understand that. At one point I said to one of them something along the lines of "Look, I'm not going to base my decision solely on what you say. I'm just insanely curious about what you would do in this situation." But no. When I told them my decision, they all agreed it sounded like the best decision given my reasons, and were pleased. No, I don't think they were just saying that. These guys would tell me the truth.

I also talked to people on the internets. Thank you, Collin and Rhonda and others...

Finally...thank you, trillwing, for your Letter of Recommendation. It worked. I did get into your school, the school I was gunning for ever since I started my MA, the school that is right up the road in a town I like very much.

The school I won't be attending.

Given: financial package, cost of living, faculty more applicable to my specific interests, size of program, placements, ability to get a solid foundation in rhet/comp and literature...Washington State wins, despite the disparity in "prestige."

Go cougars!


Sunday, March 4, 2007

not dead, just busy

more later.

like maybe Tuesday.