Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween legends

Pretty slow year this year: 78 trick-or-treaters to last year's record-breaking 131.

However, one kid came to the door late in the game and said: "Do you have any big candy bars left? I heard you give out big candy bars."

Ray: "Uh, no..."

Kid: "Did you give out big candy bars before?"

Ray: "No, not that I recall..."

I guess that old story is still circulating since back when we used to trick-or-treat. Maybe this persisting legend accounts for our inflated trick-or-treater volume in the last few years.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pumpkin State Pen

Is a prison-themed jack-o-lantern disturbing? I'm finding it a little unsettling, but it's done and I kinda like it. My other idea was an Easter egg diorama, but that seemed really challenging.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Emergency response

I was driving home today when a car ahead of me collided with another car. It was a Saturn sedan; the other car, a Suburban. The Saturn's front end was completely mushed and smoking; the Suburban didn't even have a dent.

The drivers directly in front of the accident got out of their cars to see if the Saturn occupants were okay. Two Muslim women got out of the Saturn, while the driver stayed in the car. I picked up my cellphone and called 911.

"There's been an accident on Delridge SW and SW Edmunds."

"Are you in the accident."


"Did you see the accident occur?"

"No, another car is ahead of me."

"Do we need to call Medic One."

"I don't know...the driver is moving around but she's still in the car. It's probably a good idea."

"Hold the line..."

The operator called Medic One. I listened as he relayed the info and then thanked me for my call.

There were a number of people helping at the scene, and at least two other people were on cellphones, presumably to 911 as well. It made me think: 911 probably gets lots more calls now that everyone carries a cellphone around. It's a nice benefit of our overly cell-centered culture.

A few years ago I was on I-5, right over the Montlake cut. A guy was walking along the freeway, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up over his head, walking away from the nearest exit and toward the peak of the bridge, carrying nothing. Jumper. I called 911.

"I'm driving southbound on I-5 near the U-district. There's a guy walking on shoulder and I think he might jump."

"You're between the U-District and Montlake exits, is this correct."


"We've gotten a few calls on this and have police on the way. Thanks for your call."

I think they called me back to get my name or something, but I don't know why. I hope they got there in time.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Some day...

Wake up, go swimming.
Go out to breakfast.
Read/draw in coffee shop.
Go to matinee.
Come home, bake something.
Clean something.
Pull stuff out of the garden or nap.
Eat dinner.
Watch another movie.
Read, sleep.

Trying to get this on the calendar. May have to wait until 2007.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fat Camp for the brain

I just got back from a conference on aphasia research. It was fascinating...many of the presenters were researchers and/or neurologists who had been doing a very specific slice of research very deeply for years, or even decades. Because of this, much of what they had to say was way over my head. I didn't mind though...my brain likes a workout even if it doesn't really know what it's doing. Exausting, but pleasantly so, like a good uphill hike, or an inclement weather swim after taking Tylenol PM.

It reminded me of my last Fat Camp for the brain, which was a conference on estate taxes. This seems like a lifetime ago, though it was only a few years back. My brain liked this workout so much that I actually considered estate law as a career. What the hell was I thinking?!

Anyway, I'm glad I've landed on subject matter that is actually interesting to me and I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to make my brain run around in circles all day.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

10 odd things about me

1. Bob Costas...hubba hubba...

2. Birds that fly make me nervous.

3. I have occasional "Clapper moments"...sometimes when I lose something, I have a fleeting impulse to clap to find it, yet I have never owned nor even used a Clapper.

4. I am an excellent parallel parker.

5. I made up my own football play--"Blue 34"--in high school, but I never convinced the coach to use it. It featured a fake and option.

6. I am determined to believe in the Loch Ness Monster.

7. I have a specific aversion that few know about, but I won't even talk about it as it's that disgusting to me.

8. I believe Yanni and Twinkies have their time and place.

9. My favorite thing about Christmas is the music and Archbishop Parade at Midnight Mass, though I'm not religious.

10. I have a case of bottled water in my locker at school in case of an earthquake.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Test taking tips

I am pleased to report that "GRE: Round 2" went very well. What I have learned from the first experience to the second includes the following handy tips:

Do Not...

1. Treat a standardized test like a triathlon or 1-mile swim. Drinking coffee and eating Clif Bars with caffeine prior to testing is not only ill-suited for sitting at a computer for 3 hours, it is downright stupid.

2. Ruminate over the first problem for 7 full minutes, allowing the caffeine buzz to create something akin to math dyslexia.

3. Allow the little voices to continually rant, "You're running out of time! You're running out of time! Wheeeeeeee...coffeee....!!!"


1. Liken your test anxiety to the break-in phobia dreams; you know, the one where the guy is standing in the kitchen in the middle of the night, and you wake up in a cold sweat. In those cases, I imagine punching the smuckers out of the guy, and then kicking him in the nuts for good measure. This same visualization works for test anxiety too.

2. Get comfortable with making a best guess and moving on. (I would provide some choice vocab words here that I have NEVER seen before today, but then the GRE people would sue me and take away my nice score.)

3. Did I mention the problems with caffeine? The adrenalin will give you all the boost you'll need. Trust me.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

On math

I'm reviewing math for the GRE and having 8th grade flashbacks. In 8th grade I was in honors algebra with Mr. Croone. The problem was that we spent most of the year on factoring. Apparently a bunch of people in the class didn't get it, so Mr. Croone continued to teach the same material forever. The good news is that I can factor equations in my head automatically some of the time. The bad news is that when I arrived in 9th grade honors math, the teacher started the year by saying:

"Last year you learned that..." Nope.

"You'll recall from last year..." Uh, no. We just learned how to factor in our sleep.

So that was the end of honors math for me, and pretty much everyone else who had Mr. Croone.

Incidentally, it was the same 8th grade math class where I met Kevin. Since we both understood factoring, we'd sit in the back, goof off and punch each other. He was a sweet kid and funny as hell. He later went to the Gulf and lost his marbles, came home and killed a woman with a screwdriver to the eye. I guess while we were teasing each other during Mr. Croone's class, he had some really heinous stuff going on at home. I would have never guessed.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Strikin' gold!

I was digging around in the garage this evening, trying to find my old APA style guide for a paper I'm working on. Didn't find it but I did find some old Nancy Drew mysteries, my Rubic's Cube, patches from summer camp, and my very first love letter, circa 1988.

"Dear Rebecca,

My shyness has kept me from saying this in person. I like you. I think we should be more than friends. What do you think..."

(Name withheld to protect the innocent, and terribly adorable.)