Tuesday, 30 June 2009

For Rook Lovers

Just thought I'd say that siblings rule. Especially when you end up randomly teamed together when playing Rook. Especially when the opposing team blows all their high trump in the first few hands, and your bro and you just smirk and glance at each other with raised eyebrows, wondering what sort of hair-brained strategy they're utilizing.

That being said, the other team was a pair of brothers, so perhaps they wouldn't share my sentiments. Or, at least the one who was actually trying to utilize strategy wouldn't share them.

For those of you who know how to play Rook (1-High Partnership, with a couple added rules), you know it's bad when the "underdog" team can take a trick with the high trump, which happens to be a ten of red due to the bad planning of the other team. We play plus or minus 500, but it's the first time I've ever seen someone LOSE Rook. For five entire rounds nobody made their bid (M and C lost three bids, M and bro lost one, and my bro and I lost one). It turned into a game of "don't get the one of red, because then M will call you partner and you'll lose 160 points."

So I got lucky, and won - or rather, didn't lose - with 200 points. My brother came in second with *cough* negative 10 points. Followed by -370 and -580 points. I only beat my brother because he had the bad fortune to get called partner once (which is usually, by the way, a good thing).

And there was one really weird hand - I was dealt mostly red, my brother mostly yellow, M got green, and C got black. Naturally, we were all bidding nice and high. But then C accidentally called the kitty (nest) as partner and lost on the first trick when I trumped his one of yellow with the Rook (I had no yellow - Justin had them all... except for the one, of course). He got every other point in the deck, but to no avail.

Maybe you had to be there to feel how terribly awesome it was, but I don't keep a hard-copy diary anymore, so this is where I have to record all my wannabe memories.

And because it reminds me of the (forbidden) table-talk going on during the game:

Jacques Clouseau: What? What did you say?
Ponton: Nothing.
Jacques Clouseau: You mean, you didn't just say: Stop the car, dear God, I beg of you?

P.S. I painted my face with achiote once, when I was in Peru. Today a friend came over and we used achiote from Ecuador to flavour a soup. I see a market for this. Who wouldn't want edible makeup?

We also made plantain chips. So good.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Family Snapshots

From left to right: Justin, Me, Dad, Mom, Brianna. And, perhaps more naturally,


I love my family. They rock.

:( I will miss Brianna terribly while she's gone to KENYA for the summer...

"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." Clara Ortega

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Pressed but not Crushed

It was a bit of a wake-up call. I almost became a statistic yesterday. See, my sister told me to put gas in the Neon if I was going to take it to work. Although I enjoy driving the Neon, I don't like getting (or paying) for gas, so I opted to take the mini-van instead. And it's a good thing I did.

As I was heading east down highway 22X in the left-hand lane, the driver of a semi with two trailers decided to change from his lane into mine. He signaled just long enough for me to realize I was in his blind spot and to hope that he shoulder checks. I sped up so that he would see me, but apparently he didn't bother to check anything before veering into my lane.

It was all too clear. To my left was the concrete divider, to my right (and coming closer) was the semi. I honked and slammed on the brakes, hoping to avoid being crushed between the two. The back half of the second trailer clipped and dragged along the passenger side of the van, completely obliterating the mirror.

Having made his successful lane change, the semi driver turned left at the next set of lights while I tried frantically to memorize the license plate number. Being in the left-hand lane at full 22X speed didn't allow for me to pull over, which is too bad, because I know there were other cars around who doubtlessly witnessed the incident. Although, even had I been able to pull over, I don't think the semi driver realized he had hit anything.

I continued driving until I got to work. From there I called home and the police and checked the damage. The paint just above the front right wheel is scraped off, and the hub cap is also scraped pretty badly. Had the semi pushed me a few more inches, doubtless I would have been sent careening head-on at highway speeds into the concrete divider - just ahead of the fast moving traffic behind me. Had something snagged on the wheel, I would have spun out and suffered much the same fate. We're talking a totaled vehicle and me airlifted to the hospital by STARS, best case scenario.

But all that's gone is some paint and the mirror. Thank God... I guess I'm not meant to die just yet. It could have gotten so ugly so easily. Imagine had I taken the little Neon....

I was pretty shaken up for the rest of the day, but all the police officers who talked to me were super nice (one was impressed by the bruise on my calf that I got from the uh... wild boar attack... or something). But now I have to make a few corrections to the report, so I'm hoping that doesn't interfere with their attempt to track down the semi driver.

If anyone observes a white semi with two red-trimmed trapezoidal trailers, see if you can read the company name on the truck and let me know...

“Few can foresee whither their road will lead them, till they come to its end.” J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Timeless

If I could tap into the quantum realm, I wouldn't ever have to worry about making typos or grammatical mistakes in my blog posts.

With reverse causality, I could ensure that all my posts are perfectly written, even to the standards of George Orwell. Should the English vernacular drastically change, it could still be written perfectly. I'd only have to decide how I wanted to reword things to discover that it has already been reworded as such.

The only stipulation is that I would have to, at some point in the future, actually make the changes. Or get someone to do it for me.

"Anything that happens happens, anything that in happening causes something else to happen causes something else to happen, and anything that in happening causes itself to happen again, happens again. Although not necessarily in chronological order." Douglas Adams

Friday, 12 June 2009

Smart Girl vs. Dumb Car

I am glad to be female, at the moment. As it is, I'm only embarrassed. Had I been male, I would have been mortified.

You see, I killed the battery in my car by leaving the headlights on for five hours while I made pots of coffee for people at Timmy's. Since I work a split-shift, I was supposed to leave the Esso and arrive at the big store about five minutes later. But my car didn't start.

The first clue should have been that the remote key didn't work and I had to unlock it the old fashioned way. At any rate, that didn't tip me off, but I figured it out pretty quickly.

After discovering that neither I nor any of my coworkers happened to have booster cables, the owner of the Esso volunteered to help. The car alarm went off as he tried to hook up the self-boosting-box thing. After I frantically hit a number of random buttons on the remote starter, it shut up.

However, the jump-start thing the man was trying to use was a mini-portable kind of gadget, and apparently my battery nodes are oddly shaped, so it didn't work. At this point in time, a regular customer of Timmy's drove up and asked if we needed a boost. He pulled out some real booster cables and hooked it up to our vehicles. The car alarm went off again. After I frantically hit more random buttons (it was a different key that finally turned it off this time), I grinned sheepishly and tried to start the motor. It didn't even make noise.

After hemming and hawing for a minute, the customer asked if I had depressed the clutch. Oops. I do know that you have to use the clutch to start a standard transmission - I just forgot in an unfamiliar situation. I had the door open and one foot outside and everything. Another sheepish smile. But we tried again, and this time it started. Dumb girl CAN actually drive.

Then the car alarm went off again. It was a different random button that shut it off this time. Maybe it works in a pattern of some sort - first time to shut off the alarm: STOP key. Second time to shut off the alarm: UNLOCK key. Third time to shut off the alarm: LOCK key. Who knows? At any rate, I thanked them both profusely and rushed to the big store, where the car alarm went off again as I stopped the motor. Sigh.

At least I remembered how to open the hood.

“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.” Douglas Adams

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The (Lack of) Facts on ACTS

Standard Sunday School Curriculum - the prayer acronym:
ACTS - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (and Intercession)

I have to start this with a disclaimer. I fully believe in the existence and personal nature of God and Christ. I wish to be the best person that I can be, living under God's grace and guidance. But that being said, I'm sorry to say that I've never understood the point of prayer. Some people I know are considered great prayer warriors, and I admire that, but I doubt I'll ever be one, because I still don't know what it's for. And I barely know what it is.

Prayer is talking to God. Ok - I've got that much. But if it's a memorized limerick, like the graces often said before meals, is that really prayer? How much do you have to "feel" it before you're actually praying? The old adage of "talking to the ceiling" really does ring true a lot of the time for me. And how much content does prayer have to hold? Can I just "feel" something that I want to share with God? Is that prayer? There's less chance I can make a dumb or selfish statement if I only let God know how I feel, and not what I think He should do about the matter, but then that's not really "talking".

And as for the point? God already knows everything I have to say. I understand that God may still like me to confess to Him, but God knows my heart and intentions. Why is the lip service of an official "here's what I did wrong and I apologize" report to God necessary? Intercessory prayer is even more mystifying. Just because I pray for something doesn't mean it's going to happen. God isn't a vending machine. So, ok, it's akin to asking for something like I'd ask my mom or dad? But how then are we supposed to pray and claim healing for someone if we don't know the answer? And why bother to pray for God's will? God's will is going to happen whether I pray for it or not. Claiming promises is a different matter, I think - needing to ask for the fulfillment of promises makes a little more sense, though I wonder whether God wouldn't fulfill His promises despite my lack of communication.

The adoration and thanksgiving parts of prayer I think I understand in a way, but they are acts of worship, and their focus is to bring glory to God, not to help us. What of all the rest of it?

As far as intercessory and confessional prayer goes, the only points I see are practical. They help me get my thoughts in order and my head on straight. And sometimes I can convince myself it's actually a conversation, because a little voice in my head starts chiding me for thinking this way or for doing that, or encourages me there. Is that prayer, even if I've only vaguely invited God to listen in? It certainly wouldn't even be possible to pray these out loud, which would seem to make public prayer impossible.

If prayer is aimed at building a relationship between a person and God, can I just ditch the parts I don't see the point to? It confuses me more than strengthens the relationship... Yet Jesus did demonstrate to us how to pray....

Agh!

Also, are blessings prayer?

I think I'm supposed to know this stuff by my age.

“Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.” Terry Pratchett

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Importance of Being a Nerd

Seriously, if you're not at least a little nerdy, you're majorly missing out. You can be a football player and have a nerdy streak, or be a musician and have a nerdy streak, or be a chef or salesman or journalist or whatever else you want and have a nerdy streak. You can be nerdy and still be well-rounded.

Not having a nerdy streak, however, means that you can't calculate the rise and descent of a football, laugh at existentialism jokes, or manipulate numbers in hexadecimal and binary. And it's good to try to turn things into algorithms from time to time, instead of always flying by the seat of your pants.

Just thought I'd say.

“Love is like pi - natural, irrational, and very important.” Lisa Hoffman