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I'm so exhausted right now, I'm about to keel over.

And as fun as that would be, I'd rather just keep this one short and go to bed. So no discussing the wedding or the Fourth of July tonight; that will just have to wait until I can string the thoughts together in a coherent manner.

In the meantime, I have a plan. Not really an evil plan, but it'll have to do (for now).

The History Channel is showing a special on Caribbean pirates this weekend, in honor of the PotC II release. Anyone interested in watching it at my house?

This is an open invitation to everyone...That's right; if you're reading this journal, then you're invited. Yes, the idea is as geeky as only I can be, but hey, it's an excuse to have people over.

Sunday (July 9th) at eight o'clock in the evening. My house.

So if you're interested and/or need directions, comment here or give me a call.

And if nobody cares, then that's fine, too. I love these kinds of TV specials too much to mind.
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The fire alarm just went off.

It's past two o'clock in the morning, and the fire alarm just went off.

Because someone was smoking inside of their room, right under the highly-sensitive smoke detector.

Instead of walking down one flight of stairs and smoking out in the nice, warm night air, someone decided to light one up under a smoke detector. And we all had to evacuate the building and just stand around while they tried to figure out what happened. At two o'clock in the morning.

Some people have their final exams tomorrow. Others have to catch early flights home.

A lot of people aren't happy right now.

On a lighter note, I'm glad I'm a weirdo. My first instinct isn't to get upset. I suppose I'm just especially sensitive to the irony of situations; in other words, I usually get a twisted kick out of this kind of thing.

In other words...Don't get mad; laugh like a lunatic.
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Yesterday was a bit odd, but odd in a good way.

A couple weeks ago, I had agreed to take part in a psychological study. Basically there are all these flyers hanging around the Zoology building, asking for volunteers to be subjects in studies. Well, this one was offereing thirty pounds for anyone who would do it. So what can I say? I'm a broke college kid; I sold my body to science.

On Wednesday, I came in for the "training session". Basically, I sat alone in a dark room for a few hours, staring at a computer screen and trying to locate little keys that had been hidden in pictures. I had to keep my chin perfectly still on a chin-rest so they could track all my eye movements while I searched the scenes. I was told to come back again on Thursday to do the actual test; and I was told to bring shampoo, because they would have to put some gel in my hair.

So I went back yesterday, and the real fun started. I had to keep still while they connected electrodes to my head; two behind my ears, and one under my eye. Then they put a special cap on my head, covered in electrodes. The aforementioned gel was a special kind that could pass on electrical signals, so the electrodes could sense the signals directly from my brain. It was so surreal...Sitting there, staring at the monitor showing all the wiggles and lines of my brain activity.

"Okay, now just relax and try to clear you mind completely."

So I did, and all the lines suddenly smoothed out. But every time I blinked, there would be a little spike; and every time I smiled, there would be tons of larger spikes. It was weird to realize that these sensors weren't sensing my movement, per say...They were sensing the actual nerve impulses that were being sent from my brain to my muscles.

Yeah, this was possibly one of the coolest things I've ever done.

"You have to try your best not to move at all, but don't tense up; don't blink while a scene is being shown, because any movement will cause spikes in the middle of the experiment. Now, you're going to be in the dark room again, but I want you to try to be as alert as possible. If you start to get sleepy, then the electrodes on the back of your head will start showing big alpha waves."

I have to admit, it was a bit like meditation, though. Being alone in the dark, concentrating so hard while at the same time trying to be so utterly relaxed. Having to focus on the task at hand, but still having tight control over my body...When to blink, when to swallow, when to take a deeper breath, so I wouldn't fiddle with the data they were collecting.

In the end, it seemed to work. I asked if they would be able to use it, because you usually have to throw out some bad results in these types of studies.

"Yes, it was wonderful. You have beautiful data."

Is that not the geekiest compliment you've ever heard? Too bad it was too late for Valentine's Day...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
You have such beautiful data...
Can I experiment on you?

So we took all the electrodes off, and I ended up leaning over a sink, scrubbing all the gel out of my hair. To tell you the truth, it was all very relaxing, actually. Hey, not only had I gotten a free head massage (when they were applying the gel) and the chance to refine my meditation techniques (while performing the experiment), but then I got to take my time washing my hair beauty-salon-style (over the sink, with a little spray nozzle they have for that purpose). And then before I left, I signed some invoices and was handed thirty pounds in cash.

Man...I'd be a guinea-pig for science any day...

(We all knew I was a total, geektastic Lab Rat anyway...)
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Today was way too cold to go outside. In fact, it's always too cold to go outside. So after getting up today and taking a shower, I put on a clean pair of pajamas and just gave up.

If you were here, I don't think you would blame me. The highs over the past week have been mid-thirties, and the lows...Well, we're not going to even talk about them. But I'd like to point out that they still don't turn on the heat at night. I get up every morning and have to quickly pull on a sweatshirt before I can start moving about my room. Changing clothes is...not fun.

It's not even like I'm being a stupid Floridian about it and exposing myself to the cold because I don't know any better. I dress warmly, I can tell you that much. Every day, dressing is the same: unmentionables, an undershirt, a long-sleeved turtleneck, a jacket, a huge hoodie over that, tights (the thick, black ballet kind), my rowing leggings, and jeans. Followed by thick socks, big black boots, a scarf, a hat, and gloves.

And even after all that, the windchill created from riding a bike is horrible...It's bad enough that it's almost ten degrees below freezing, but to have that freezing air rushing past you is just brutal. And your body responds in weird ways; imagine that you're riding along, squinting against the cold air, when suddenly you feel something strange on your cheek. Well, guess what? It's so cold, your eyes are trying to keep from freezing; moving water doesn't freeze as easily, so you've got tears streaming down your face. Seriously. Even inside my gloves, my fingers go numb. So the first five minutes of every lecture are spent massaging my hands and feeling like the finger tips are on fire.

Welcome to England, everybody: Winter's a bitch.

So....yeah. I stayed inside today. I made myself some hot chocolate and curled up in my bed under all the covers to read. I caught up on the background reading for my labs today with "The Effect of Glucose, Lactose, and Galactose on the Induction of beta-Galactosidase in E. coli" and "Drosophila, the golden bug, emerges as a tool for human genetics". Then it was on to my research for my next organisms essay (on the physics involved that allow fish to swim) with "Review of Fish Swimming Modes for Aquatic Locomotion" and "Energetics of median and paired fin swimming, body and caudal fin swimming, and gait transition in parrotfish (Scarus schlegeli) and triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)".

Yeah, just a little light reading. Which is probably why I fell asleep...


What can I say? The hot chocolate was there on the bedside table, the blankets were nice and warm, and I had good reading in hand...I made myself comfortable to read, and was a little too comfortable, I suppose. But that's what I get for being in such scientifically domestic bliss. Or would it be domestically scientific bliss? Either way, I can see myself doing the same thing, years from now. It's a nice habit, in its own way.

I just have to make sure I don't fall asleep all the time.

Current Sin: Sloth
sangre_fria: (Laura- EL suit)
Just a quick one, I promise.

Okay, so I was sitting in Darwin's Cafe after my morning lectures, putting the finishing touches on the lab report that was due this evening. I was sitting at the table closest to the vending machines, so I overheard some third years while they were getting a snack.

Now, you have to understand that Oxford's degree in Biological Sciences is only a three-year course, so these people were the equivalent of Seniors in our colleges back home. Except for the fact that they have to work on a "third-year project", which is basically a thesis. You know, the kind of stuff that most people do during graduate work. So yes, I do have respect for them to begin with; and the kids here at Oxford are nice. They don't lord it over us freshers, just because we're new and they're the oldest. Anyway, back to business.

The vending machines are always a pain; they're moody, they don't give back your change sometimes, and they've even been known to take your money without actually giving you the food/drink. (That's happened to me twice so far; there's actually an Oxford Facebook group "Victims of Vending Machine Trauma". But I digress...) The vending machines downstairs accept actual money, but the ones next to Darwin's don't; as a member of the science department, you're issued a special card (a "Darwin's card") that you can load money onto and use in the cafe or upstairs vending machines. And if you loose it...well...

Student 1: Bollocks, I don't have my card.
Student 2: Lost it already, have you? It's been...two and a half weeks since the start of term?
Student 3: Ah, no worries. You can use mine and just pay me back later.
Student 1: God bless you all. God bless us, every one.
Student 4: These machines are so hard to manage sometimes; I'd prefer the Drosophila to be honest. How is that going, by the way?
Student 2: Well, I'm certainly getting my kicks with the ether. And I found out yesterday that the methyl iodide is a carcinogen.
Student 1: Mmmm...Cancerific...

People here usually don't have "my kind of humor", so it was a refreshing surprise. And I know how crazy it is to try to work with Drosophila; we've been breeding them in our genetics labs over the past few weeks. You have to check who's male and who's female and such, so you have to gas them with ether and just hope you finish identifying them before they begin to regain consciousness and start twitching.

Oh, and the spot I had in lectures today had "I *heart* Bacteria" written into the tabletop. I need to keep a list; arthropods and bacteria so far.

I know it's only a matter of time until I find an "I *heart* Drosophila".....Hey, I would write it.

God bless the little buggers. Every one.
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I haven't had time to update in a while, and no wonder...

But our organisms lectures were rescheduled due to illness, so I have the whole day off today. And I was able to have a bit of a lie-in. Shocking. But it's given me the opportunity to update here a little.

Okay, Saturday's trip to London was amazing. Getting myself to and from London wasn't that big of a deal; I'm so used to traveling between continents, this was a cinch. So we arrived at the Museum of Natural History, and I have the say, the building itself was incredible. It was built during the Victorian era for the sole purpose of being a science museum, so the outside of the building (as well are the inside) was covered in carvings of various animals. I'm so glad that I thought to bring my camera with me on this trip...

I could easily spend a couple weeks looking around the whole building. Floors and floors, filled with various exhibits...The place was huge, and a person could easily get lost in there. Lost in science. Hey, I wouldn't mind...

Then it was time for our behind-the-scenes tour of the Darwin Centre (the area of the museum devoted to current research and storage of specimens). We were given special lab coats to wear, and our guide unlocked the door to the research facilities. You have to understand that this museum is special; when a new species is discovered, it's sent here to be recorded and officially classified. There are only three that officially do this; the Smithsonian, a museum in Paris, and the Darwin Centre. So they have several floors devoted to the storage of these key specimens (the first of their kind known to science). There are always two sets of automatic doors; you have to unlock the first with a remote control (looks like a small garage door-opener on a key chain) and step inside. The next set of doors won't open until the first set have closed and sealed; this is all to help maintain the temperature and humidity in the storage rooms. Everything is controlled: temperature, humidity, light, air pressure....

They do everything they can to ensure that these specimens are protected. The guide (who had a accent that sounded Eastern-european; maybe Russian?) lead us around, showing us various jars and their contents. Some of the labels had mold spots on them, and she explained that these jars had to be hidden in caves during World War II to keep them safe during the German bombing of London. And she showed us that the ones with red around the seals meant that they were special in some way.

"Red means 'be careful with me'. Sometimes it means that they're especially fragile or old specimens. Sometimes it's because they were the first individual of their species to be identified. And some are from special expeditions. If you can please look at this one...The labels show the year they were entered into the museum here, who collected them here, the classification here...And if they were from a scientific expedition, then the ship's name is here. Can you read it?"

We all gathered around and peered into the jar.

"The HMS Endeavor?"

"Yes. This one is from Captain Cook's famous journey on the Endeavor."

Woah. That voyage was from 1768 to 1771, guys. These were brought back and added to the museum before we had even declared our American independence. So we went from room to room, floor to floor, as she told us stories about various specimens and the explorers/scientists that had brought them in; each jar has its own special story, and I wish I could have heard them all. (Though that would've been impossible; they have more than 70 million specimens...) She showed us the tanks were they kept the bigger creatures; they have the only complete giant squid in the world, and its tank is longer than a London bus. It was so impressive. She showed us the cranes mounted on the ceiling that are used to lift the lids of the tanks, and showed where an artist from the BBC had come to do some sketches; apparently they want to do a television program on a certain fish species, so they came to the museum to look at some of the specimens there. She said that even art students come here, to sketch the jars (since each of them are so different).

And then she stopped beside a barrier that said "no visitors beyond this point" and gave our little group a long, hard look.

"Well, I'm not supposed to let you past here, but I know that you'll be able to appreciate seeing this. Just be very careful."

So she moved it aside and led us to a shelf with several old jars.

"Can you read these labels?"

We all crowded around again and squinted at the labels. They were more than a hundred and fifty years old, and then we noticed the ship's name in the bottom right corner. 'Beagle'.

"These...These are from the Beagle?!"

"Yes. These were specimens that Darwin himself collected when he was a young man, on a world-wide expedition on the HMS Beagle."


Guh. Chills, people; it gave me chills. They were right there. I was breathing on them...

So yes; my trip to the museum was amazing, incredible, and I'm going back as soon as I can.

The rest of my week has been fairly routine so far. Monday afternoon was spent running around our own Museum of Natural History in a strange parody of a scavenger hunt. We couldn't dissect any reptiles, so our reptile lab consisted of wandering around the museum and doing things like comparing the hip joint of a crocodile to the hip joint of the Tyrannosaurus. Looking at the fossil skull of an early mammal-like reptile and trying to figure out what it might have eaten while it was alive. (It was an omnivore; its teeth showed the differentiation that's so classic in mammals, but so revolutionary to reptiles.)

It's kind of funny; I'm not very artistic, but a major portion of our organisms labs is drawing. We have to cut things open, and then draw them; look at various muscles, and draw them; look at the guts and draw them. Look at the skeletons in the museum and draw them. And yes, they do have to look like the real thing. And we really don't have much time to spend on it. So I've actually been developing drawing skills during my biology studies. Who would have thought?

It makes sense, though. A scientist has to be able to describe what they see, and sometimes words just aren't enough. Quick (but stunningly accurate) sketches are extremely important in fieldwork. You could be the first person to ever see this or that animal, and it's not going to sit still and let you take your time with its portrait.

Yesterday's dissection was the one on birds, and Ada's been dreading it since we first learned that we would be dissecting things. She wants to be an ornithologist and study birds for a living; and since she loves them so much, it was terrible for her. So I was the one doing all the actual cutting. And plucking. So I had to sit there and pluck the poor thing, which had been shot so I got its blood on my hands. Yes, that really bothered Ada; and to tell the truth, it kind of bothered me too. I can do these gory sorts of things, no problem, but it doesn't mean I'm going to enjoy it.

But we got through it all right, and were able to study all the muscles involved in flight. That was really cool. So now I've seen the inside of a bird's wing; add that to the list of odd things I've done in my life. Next Monday is a mouse, by the way.

In the meantime, Ada and I spent last night relaxing in my room again, and watching some movies and FMA. I finally saw Pulp Fiction (it was funny because she had to turn off the Polish subtitles), and now I know where she learned her "more interesting" English phrases...Heh, and she now has ten more episodes of FMA under her belt. We have so much fun watching it; she always asks what's going to happen, and I always refuse to tell her. We joke around about how Maes Hughes reminds us of our genetics tutor. ^.^

So yeah; life is definitely good.

Pictures! )
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Yes, I was right. I walked into our afternoon lab today; the image on the display monitor? A dead frog.

If only one of you had taken me up on that bet...

Ah, the many joys of dissection. It just never gets old. Of course, I always shock Ada with my lively commentary.

"I wonder what would happen if it were still alive?" "Woah, feel his skin..." "He looks like he's screaming." "How soon do you think we'll be doing people? What? Don't give me that look....I would donate my body to science..."

She jokes around with me a lot more now, so the hours pass by much quicker. Our sarcastic quips and bored jabber are priceless sometimes.

All of the professors decided to take a coffee break at once, so all of us with questions had to stand around and wait in the meantime. We were supposed to be drawing the major veins and arteries around the heart, but ours were covered in a kind of dried-blood paste; we tried to scrape away as much of the gunk as we could, but the cardiac arches just weren't visible. We wanted to get out of there before it got dark, but there was no one around to ask about it. So Ada and I entertained ourselves.

Me: *stares listlessly down at my drawing of the frog's internal anatomy* My frog is too fat. And it doesn't have enough guts.
Ada: *leans over to look at my diagram* I think it should be fine.
Me: *draws a tongue sticking out of my frog's mouth, in a parody of death* OMG DED!
Ada: *reaches over with a probe and pulls the real frog's tongue out of its mouth* Now your drawing is scientifically accurate.
Me: Ha! "I swear, Professor Martin! I was just drawing how the frog looked!"
Ada: *reaches over and draws a crown on the head of my frog* Give him a kiss!

(Disclaimer: This in no way is meant to be disrespectful to the animals that give their lives and bodies to science. We are all living things, and even in death, we deserve dignity. Unless our legs are sticking straight out and our tongues are lolling out of our heads. Then that's just funny.)

(Additional Disclaimer: The above was a joke. Don't be offended; I know the importance of respect for all life, probably better than anyone. But I'd also like to think I have a sense of humor, too.)

(Overkill Disclaimer: If you're still offended, then you should either get a sense of humor, or read something else. Sheesh...)

The beauty of having really long labs is that you get out after the Zoology building has officially closed. And that's when they feed the snakes. For those of you that don't know, our building has a special cafe for biologists. (Yes, the building's real name is "The Department of Zoology and Experimental Psychology", so the psychologists have their own cafe/lounge too. But we don't generally go there. Unless we want to lay down on their couches. Heh, yeah...I go there to take naps. Those couches really are comfortable. It figures, I suppose...)

Well, anyway, we all like to hang out in Darwin's Cafe when we have a free hour between lectures and nothing else to do. One of the walls is covered in glass windows; each one contains an aquarium or tank of some sort. You name it, they've got it; and beside each is a poster describing all the animals inside. It's really entertaining to sit there while you're eating.

I'll be there with my bag of chips, staring down a crab the size of my head through the glass. He'll reach down and strip the seaweed, and then quickly shove his claw to his mouth; I'll reach down and grab a chip, and then quickly shove it into my mouth. He'll reach down and munch, then I'll reach down and munch, then he'll reach down...And then I'll run out of chips, and he'll reach down again. I stand up to throw my trash away, and give him a long, silent look.

"Okay, Sebastion...You win this time."

He twiddles his eye-stalks at me, and reaches down again. Yeah, rub it in, why don'tcha...

Well, anyway, they were feeding the corn snakes that live in the very last tank by our laboratory door. There are two of them; one is the wild type orange and black, while the other is an albino. (I wrote an essay about their gene expression pathways yesterday, actually. Mutations in epistatic genes are so cool...If you have red hair, by the way, then you're a mutant for the same reasons that some mice or dogs have yellow fur.) I tell you, watching those snakes eat is better than TV. Seriously. As more and more people finished up the lab, the audience grew. We were all crowding around, peering through the glass like delighted toddlers. The wild type snake was hesitating near the mouse it was supposed to eat, no matter how much the grad student wiggled it. One of the professors mentioned that they usually don't like to eat if they're about to shed their skin, so that could be the cause.

Girl from St. Anne's College: It kind of looks confused...
Me: I don't know...I don't think I would be too confused if someone dangled a steak in front of me...
Guy from Christ Church College: Yeah, but what if someone was dangling a whole cow?

God, I love this school...
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Today was exhausting, but it was still very satisfying.

Last night, I had a lovely conversation with Alex about what they're really teaching me here. No, it's not biology; it's how to wield a large book with deadly force. Yes, Oxford is building itself an army; an army that can smite down even the blackest and most foul of ignorance. And I shall be its newest Lieutenant, thrusting myself and my trusty microorganism textbook to the forefront of battle. FOR GREAT SCIENCE!

Okay, for those of you that have been wondering, this is how things work around here:

1) I don't choose my classes. There's no registration day here at Oxford; they tell you what classes you're taking, and that's that. The first year is all introductory biology, so everyone is taking everything. Next year, I'll be able to decide what I want to focus on; your second year, you choose three general subjects that you want to study in-depth. Then by your third year, you should know what you really want to focus on, and you choose subjects accordingly. Your third year is also when you do your thesis, so people usually spend the summer between their second and third year traveling (to places like Malaysia, to study endemic butterflies; or the Great Barrier reef to experiment on the reversal of coral bleaching).

2) Each of my terms only last eight weeks. They are numbered accordingly, and that's how we keep track of them. There are three terms in each school year, and eight weeks in each term. So yes, I'll be spending six months of each year in Oxford, and the other six at home (or somewhere here in England, if it turns out that way). When I get my schedule for the term, it shows where I have to be according to the week. For the first four weeks I have labs every Monday and Tuesday, from two until five in the afternoon. But on weeks Two and Four, I have Thursday afternoon labs as well. And on Sixth Week, I only have a Monday afternoon lab, but it's coupled with a full-day lab on Friday. It's crazy to try to work out, but we all managed somehow. It's still kind of funny to walk around and hear people say things like, "How are you finding this term?" "Oh, it's mental! You should see Fifth Week!"

3) I generally write two papers per week. If any of you guys would like to read them, I'll send them your way. Some examples of the titles are: "How widespread are sedentary and sessile organisms? How do they feed, reproduce and disperse?"; "What is a species? Critically appraise the various criteria employed to split animals and plants taxonomically. How do species arise in nature?", "What is a skeleton and what use is it? Review the major types of skeleton found in animals and plants and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Is it better to be 'squishy' or 'rigid'?"; "What is an arthropod? They are often considered to be the most successful group of animals on earth. What does this mean? Do you agree? Justify your opinions, using appropriate examples." My latest prompt is, "Using examples, discuss the main similarities and differences between the major vertebrate Classes."

4) I have cut open just about everything. As we focus on each ascending phylum of animal, we have to dissect at least one of them. So far it's been Cnidaria (jellyfish and Hydra), Platyhelminthes and Nematoda (various worms), Annelida (more worms, including polychaetes), Mollusca (squid), Arthropoda (we observed just about every insect you can think of and some chelicerates as well, and then cut open a crayfish), Echinodermata (starfish), and Chordata (lancelet). From there we've been focusing in on the craniates, including the cartilaginous fish (cut open a stingray) and the teleost fish (cut open a trout just this afternoon). And from there? I'm willing to bet a whole lot of money that I'll be facing a frog tomorrow afternoon.

It's been so tough lately; I've been working from nine until five at least three days a week. They usually give us an hour here and there to eat lunch or whatever, but I had to run to the bank today instead of eating. Well, I had no idea how to quickly get from the science area to the corner of High Street and Cornmarket, and time was definitely of the essence. After being giving bad directions twice, having to turn around and go back down the street I had originally been down, just taking a guess at which little side-street I was actually on, and just getting turned around in general by Oxford's maze of streets, I found my way to the bank. I figured that I would be late for my afternoon lab, and spent the whole way back planning how to apologize. Well, I got back to the Zoology building, and what do you know? I was twenty minutes early. Go figure.

But I now know how to get straight from my classes to the Eagle and Child pub. Hooray for exploration, and a photographic memory to go with it. One of my new hobbies this term is to worm my merry way through every nook and cranny of this city. It shall be my playground. (Except not in the way most students "play" here.)

In other news, it's unbelievably cold here now. During the hottest part of the day, I could see my breath. And it's supposed to get colder. That cold front from Russia? Yeah, it's coming....for my soul. Ada spoke on the phone with her mom today, and from what she says, all the water is freezing right in the pipes in Poland. And the cold is slowly creeping West.

My reaction? I'm going to die. O.o

But I won't go down without a fight. I've armed myself with new gloves and a crapload of sweaters.

Bring it on, Moscow!
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Okay, so I'm going to try to get back on British time tonight. I got up at seven-thirty this morning, and I'm going to bed around seven or eight o'clock this evening. Then I'm going to wake up at three in the morning, and stay up until tomorrow evening. This will be my new life cycle, and if you want to get in touch with me, I suggest you do it while I'm actually awake. Yes, I know this is weird. But my mom insists, so we'll just have to see how it goes.

My family celebrated my birthday yesterday, and guess what I got? A digital camera. You guys know what this means; you'll be able to actually see what I see while I'm at school, instead of having to suffer through my legendary purple prose. I promise good pictures. I'm going to try to download the photo software onto my laptop tonight before I go to bed, and we're going to get me a bigger memory card tomorrow. And an international battery recharger, so I don't have to constantly buy batteries over in the UK. I look forward to assaulting you all with pictures of my daily life.

By the way, Kacie is awesome. I got to spend some time with her before she left, and it was time well-spent. When you've been friends with someone since you were six-years-old (and they swear that you'll be the godmother of their children), you always have a special place in your heart for them. I'm so proud of her; I could never learn to speak and write Arabic, and she's been pulling it off with flying colors. And seriously, what a sweetheart. Hopefully we can keep in touch better this term.

Kacie also presented me with gifts. Leave it to her to know the most incredible moisturizers and such. I smell like some kind of dessert right now; no kidding, I'm delicious. And it's the kind of stuff that you can rub all over you, but it's not greasy so you don't even feel the need to wash your hands afterward. I've never owned girly stuff like that, so please ignore my astonished amusement.

I stumbled upon a gift-card that a friend of the family's had given me for Christmas. I hadn't even known it existed, and now suddenly I have forty dollars to spend. The beauty of gift cards is that they can't be spent anywhere else, so I don't feel the usual guilt at the thought of buying something for myself. So we're going to the mall tomorrow, and I have forty dollars, guilt-free, to spend in Victoria's Secret. Woohoo, panties.

And even though I still have about a week's worth of antibiotics to take, I'm starting to feel better. I still get tired really easily, but I'm not sneezing constantly anymore.

So let's recap: I have a freaky new sleep schedule, I have my own (totally awesome) digital camera, I was able to spend time with my opposite twin, I smell wonderfully girly, I'm going to get some pretty unmentionables, and I'm no longer a walking contagion. Yes, things are just peachy*.

I started to pack today, and I've actually gotten most of it done. Score.

If any of you guys want to see me before I leave, I suggest you let me know as soon as possible. The closer we get to E-day**, the less likely my mom will let me hang out with friends.

*Yes, I'm aware of how utterly ridiculous this entire post is.

**England-day; code name for my latest invasion of Oxford, and Britain in general.
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Yeah, so I went to the doctor today and ended up walking away with three prescriptions. (At least I'm not contagious...) I started my latest round of antibiotics tonight.


In other news, I have now introduced my mother to the wonders of FMA.

...And she liked it.

[/geek to the max]
sangre_fria: (Laura- EL suit)
All right, so I have exactly one week left until I'm shuffled back onto a plane. There is much to be done.

My nineteenth birthday was a quiet and relaxed affair; since I've been so sick, it was nice to be able to just spend it at home and chill out. Thank you, everyone, for all of the well-wishes. ^.^ My sister thought to bring home cupcakes to celebrate, which was sweet of her. It was lovely to have Kari and Shini over to visit (and I swear we'll continue watching FMA someday...). And yes, I am a total geek. But what can I say? It's an incredible series; I have good reason to be obsessed.

I spent this afternoon at West Shore, which was entertaining. It was so good to see Mrs. Teplica, Mr. Murphy, Mrs. Markley, and Mrs. Galaida again. (Christa, your mom is awesome, and I've missed her so much. And you and I have to hang out sometime before school starts up again...) I also had the chance to hang out with Abbi this evening before she leaves for UF tomorrow, which was great. (Abbi, sorry about being so sickly and tired...It was so rude of me... ^.^') I've been feeling a lot better lately than I had been before, but a full day of activity still takes the life right out of me.

But I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, so hopefully I can get whatever this is cleared up quickly. And even if it's just a virus and I don't need any medicine for it, it'll still give me peace of mind to have a check-up.

And as for tonight? Well, I got to see both Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke in Japanese. And why not? They're awesome, and besides, it's not like I can sleep these days.


Dec. 16th, 2005 07:48 pm
sangre_fria: (Default)
Man, I love science.

And randomness, too.

...So random...
sangre_fria: (Laura- EL suit)
So my grandmother solicited my help yesterday to clean her house. I think that's all I really want to say about that. There's nothing more interesting than hours of tedious manual labor, after all.

And today I started on my mom's house. Exciting.

In other news, I've been bitten by inspiration; I'll be posting some [ profile] our_resistance soon.

It's funny; I don't really get mad over little things. They just amuse me. Does this mean that I have something psychologically wrong with me? Could be.

But at least I'm a jolly nutjob.
sangre_fria: (Default)
Thursday: Our second day that the ChCh regatta. The current in the river was so strong, one of Merton's shells crashed into the bank and had to have people rescued. (We passed by the accident site later, and the shell was complete wreckage.) Because of that, our race was delayed an hour. So we sat out in the freezing cold, in a boat, fighting the current for an hour. Two (Irina) and I had to constantly row so that we could stay in the same place; I'm not kidding. Then it started to rain (freezing rain) right before our race. By the time we finally started our race, it had started absolutely pouring. We couldn't even see, and we could barely hear our cox, even though she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Halfway through the race, hail started to come down on us. Chunks of ice, about the size of marbles. The wind made the current so bad, we almost crashed into the bank like the other crew. And, of course, after our race they had to cancel the rest of the regatta for the day...

We did manage to make it to the finish line. When we rowed past Merton's wrecked shell, I felt like crying. It was so sad; it was a wooden one, hand-crafted and polished to a shine. Broken more ot less in two, the riggers all twisted on one side. It was a horrible crash, and such a shame losing such a beautiful shell. And we almost knocked a goose senseless, because it was just too stupid to get out of our way. Strokeside accidentally knocked it about a bit with their blades before it swam on. Yeah, geese are pretty dumb...

Pictures, anyone? I'm the bow, which for you non-rowers means that I'm the one on the end...

Thursday night was spent at Katie's party, which was absolutely fabulous. She had a murder mystery party, and each of us was given a character to dress up as and act the part of during the game. These mystery party games are all the rage here in Britain. It's all in a kit that you buy in party shops and such. You buy one that has the right number of characters for your party, and it contains invitations that tell everyone who their character is and how to dress. So then you get there; everyone's in character, and you put on a tape that came with it. A "detective" starts talking about the murder, and gives you clues here and there to help you solve it. Each of us gets a booklet for our character, telling us who we are, and what our real motives are; what we're supposed to tell people, and the things that we should try to keep secret. Then we go around accusing each other and questioning to figure out who did it. No one knows who the murderer is until the very end, after you go around guessing who did it. Then you play the last bit of the tape, and all the pieces fall together.

And just in case you guys were wondering who did it, I can tell you that it was just about everyone. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. Apparently, the dead Butler had been stealing the Uncle's port, and since the Uncle was pathologically insane, he put poison in the alcohol to "teach him a lesson". That would have killed him, except for the fact that the French Girl he had an affair with tried to poison him too, because he was blackmailing her. The two poisons canceled each other out, but he was feeling very sick and had to stay in bed. That's where he was shot, but the curious thing was, there was blood on both sides of his pillow. As it turns out, the Nun was his long-lost sister; when their father had died, their family became penniless so the Nun was sent to America and the brother/Butler was sent to London. Their mother later married a rich German, who already had a daughter, the Caberet Star. When she died, the money was going to go to the Butler, but he died so the Caberet Star was going to inherit it all.

The Nun was my secret lover, and I wanted her to inherit it all instead; so I was going to kill the Butler. I even had a suicide note all written up. But when I got there, he was already dead. So I left the suicide note and snuck away. The Butler was killed because the Niece's Fiance owed him money. The Butler was actually a member of a the crime underworld, and the Fiance didn't want to get mixed up in it. So he convinced his wife-to-be to actually pull the trigger. But the shot to the head didn't actually kill him. That's why there was blood on both sides of the pillow. The Nun (his sister) had come in afterward, and had seen that he was shot, but still breathing. She smothered him with the pillow; a mercy killing.

Man, it was so much fun...

Friday: An unspeakable amount of work was done.

Saturday: Errands were run, inquiries were made, and laundry was done. The dryers only take twenty pence coins, and I ran out halfway through. Despite borrowing money from a porter, there still wasn't enough to actually dry my clothes. Or the sheets I was supposed to sleep on. Or the towel I was supposed to use after showering. I'm almost positive that my annoyance could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt a chill come over you that afternoon, then yeah, that was me.

Sunday: Finished my last cells and genes paper a day early. I'm almost positive that my jubilation could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt the sudden urge to laugh hysterically come over you that afternoon, then yeah, that was me. My clothes and sheets and towels were still wet, though. But on the bright side, the regatta after-party was that night. So I got to hang out at Filth with some of my crew, and more or less danced the night away. I ended up getting to bed at three o'clock in the morning; not because of leaving the club late, though. I actually left around one o'clock. When I got back to my room, I remembered that Biz had borrowed my extra mattress because she had had a friend come to stay with her. Of course, I didn't really "remember" this by myself; I saw the mattress laying out in the middle of the hallway. So there I was at about two in the morning; single-handedly dragging a mattress through the hall to my room. Ducking under the clotheslines still covered in drying clothes, I finally managed to shove it back on the bed. Then bed for me.

Monday: Last dissection for the term; the poor little starfish never had a chance. I turned in my cells and genes paper, but I have my last invertebrate paper due Wednesday; so it was off to the library for me. I stumbled across a book written by Dr. Speight, which was interesting (though not really surprising, at this point). He gave his last lecture this morning, so I suppose I'll just have to chat with him about it after I get back from winter break. Like most of our dissections, today's had been a bit rough on the nerves, so Ada and I took up our habit of hanging out in the college bar for a while after dinner. She doesn't like cutting things open (not to mention that she's a bit of a vegetarian), so I bought her a drink for being such a good sport about it all. Afterwards, I walked back to my building.

It started to rain, but something just wasn't right about it. The rain wasn't falling as fast as it should have, and it wasn't very wet. I looked down at my coat and got the shock of my life. I'm almost positive that my childish wonder could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt the sudden urge to dance in the middle of a snowfall about four hours ago, then yeah, that was me. They weren't proper snowflakes, but it was still snow.

I'm in complete awe.
sangre_fria: (Laura- Red dress)
I had fun today, and I think we all did. To spare you the suspense, I should go ahead and say that we lost. But it was a close race the whole way, and Pembroke only won by less than half a length. Everyone was a little bummed out, but we tried our best. Our coach, Alice, said that she was proud of us anyway, and that everyone along the river was telling her how good we looked.

Our cox, Peri, was proud of us too. We didn't panic at the start, and nobody really caught a crab. We did have a problem with catching air, but I think we'll do much better in our next race. Now that we know what racing actually feels like, I think we'll be able to put that experience to good use when we race again tomorrow against Worchester's novice A.

They don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, but the Principal has invited all of the Americans and Canadians for celebratory drinks before lunch. And my friend Katie is celebrating her twentieth birthday tomorrow, and she's having a murder mystery party. Kind of like Clue, really. Each of us is given a character to play, and we all dress up; we're suspects, and we have to figure out who did it by the end of the night. The party is set in the year 1912. My character is Oscar Hemmingway III; I'm an American businessman of shady dealings (possibly armaments) with a passion for big game hunting. I'm also supposed to be very loud, and carry around a large cigar or something like that. Hooray for being a man. I'm going to have so much fun with this...

In other news, [ profile] laurelin_kit made me many, many beautiful icons of joy! They're so lovely, and I wish I could use them all. Sadly, I'm a cheap "free LJ account" whore. But I do have three of them up. Thank you, Laura! *snuggles*

I saw some shoes like the ones Evangeline is wearing in the "glorious red dress" one; they're in a shop on High Street, and I almost fell to my knees and wept at the sight of them. Of course, it didn't help that I was walking down to the ATM at the time. Sadly, I have to spend my money on food, not the Shoes of the Gods...
sangre_fria: (Default)
Alright, there's a lot to say and not much time to say it.

Prince Charles walked through our laboratory while we were doing a practical on arthropods. Hooray for bugs. Very surreal, really. Security everywhere, and apparently the Press were being shepherded around the building while I was practically pressing my face up against the glass of a scorpion's cage. The lab went on per usual, and they didn't even announce him when he came in. He just walked right in, and since I was right next to the scorpion at the time, I was about four feet from him. He was a tad bit shorter than I thought he would be, but other than that he looked exactly the same as any picture your could find of him in the Media. Once he and his entourage of official-looking men in smart suits passed by, it was business as usual. Part of the lab was to create and label diagrams in order to show the diversity of form within the arthropods as a whole. Which more or less means that I drew a pretty picture of a butterfly. I wonder if my mom is going to hang it on our fridge...

For those of you that don't know, my schedule has been a bit tight lately because of the coming regatta. Monday mornings are off. On Tuesdays, I have to get up at six o'clock to make it the the gym session, before my morning classes. On Wednesdays, I'm up at five o'clock to go on outings on the river. Thursdays are the same as Wednesdays. Fridays are off, usually, but we had an outing on Friday last week. Saturdays have afternoon outings that last several hours. And Sundays either have outings or sprint erg sessions (when you get on a rowing machine and row as hard and fast as you can until you can't really move anymore), followed by an evening gym session (heavy weightlifting). Not to mention that I have nine o'clock lectures every morning, and Mondays and Tuesdays are lab practical days (i.e. I'm there until past five at night). Not to mention essays to write for tutorials and reading to do for the lectures. And we can't forget the little things like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and going to the bank. Those sorts of things seem insignificant, but they do add up when you have things to do and places to be.

I also have to figure out how much (and what) stuff I'm storing here over the holidays. (Luckily I already found a place, emailed them, and got a reply back so that's one less thing left to do.)

Christ Church regatta starts tomorrow, and we'll be racing Pembroke's novice B team first. Depending on how well we do, we might be having races all the way until Saturday. So I'm going to miss one lecture tomorrow to race, and who knows how many others in the next few days. I'm excited, but a bit nervous too. I have been trying my best, though, and I know we'll all enjoy it so I'm not really freaking out (yet?). On Friday, we had an almost mock race with one of Balliol's teams, since we both spun at Longbridges at about the same time and that just happens to be the starting point for the Christ Church course. We started out and passed them; then three different people caught crabs at the exact same time, so we actually had to stop completely while Balliol kept going. Then we all recovered, started rowing again, and passed them again. Balliol was not best pleased.

It really felt good, and it gives us a certain level to aim for when we race tomorrow. Trust me, we're not cocky; about as far from it as you can get. I always put my all into our power tens, even when it's just practice. We all do, and you can hear it...Sadly, you can be fined for using profanity during a race at Christ Church. Irina (who sits at Two, right in front of me) is quite fluent, and we were joking about that tonight. Since she's Russian, she said she'll teach us all to curse in Russian (and especially Estonian since no one here speaks it) so we can't be caught. I don't really need to worry about that, though. I only talk to myself silently in my mind, really.

"Pull, you fat bitch! PULL!!"

And I don't want to hear any "But Cassie, you're not fat!" and such; when I'm in the bow seat and we're doing a power ten or power twenty, I am the fattest bitch on the face of the planet. End of story. I'm not going to be a weak link; I won't let my crew down, no matter what. I prefer to take the mindset that I need to work twice as hard as everyone else in the boat; that way, if everyone is thinking that way, we'll all just fly down that river.

This is not fun and games. It's cold here. The highs are in the low forties and the lows are in the low twenties, so if you ride from Hilda's to the boat house without gloves on, you will actually hurt your hands. But when it's time to row, the gloves come off and stay off. Even though frost is covering everything, and the sun hasn't even risen yet, and you have to watch your step when you're putting the shell in or taking it out of the water, because the raft under your feet is slick with ice. Even though your blade is covered in ice, and when you grab it to put it away, your hand actually freezes to it, like getting your tongue stuck to an ice cube. It hurts; it's so cold at first, your knees ache. You're tired, and probably have the start of a cold, and you have to go to a full day of lectures and practicals and tutorials afterwards. But you get out there anyway, and you concentrate on keeping your back straight, and squaring early, and slowing down the slide, and catching in time with Stroke, and keeping your arms straight, and tapping down sharply, and all the other tiny details that could make your rowing perfect if you can manage to pull them all off at once. And while you do that, your putting all your strength into the strokes; really trying to put power into the water. And after about ten minutes, you need to take off your jacket, and your jumper, and your shirt, because it's just too bloody hot.

So there you sit, in the middle of a river, before the sun has risen, in below-freezing weather, clutching an iced-over oar, and wearing nothing but a tank top.

And the funniest thing about this is that your thoughts ("I'm a masochist...") perfectly match what your timing should be. Let me explain. When you're rowing, it's best to have a stroke to recovery ratio of two to three. Two beats for the stoke while your oar's in the water, and three beats to take down the slide. No matter how fast you're rowing, the 2/3 ratio shouldn't change. Sometimes the cox will count it out loud, but usually they have more important things to scream at you. So you have to do it in your head, and it helps to do it a little something like this. Stroke. Recovery.

"I'm a masochist. I'm a masochist. I'm a masochist. I'm. A. MAS-oh-KIST..."

It works, and it's oh so true...

But despite how horrible it may sound, I love rowing to death. And I'm not going to stop, no matter how tough it gets.

Wish me (and the rest of my crew) luck tomorrow at Christ Church, guys.
sangre_fria: (Default)
You know what's funny? Consider this scenario.

You wake up, get out of bed, and suddenly realize that it's incredibly cold in your room. You know that they always turn off the heat in the buildings at night, but you vaguely wonder if they've left it off for longer than usual or if the sudden extra cold is just a figment of your imagination. So you shuffle about your morning routine in your slippers, pull out your warmest jeans to wear, and quickly scramble through the "brisk" process of changing into your clothes. (And by "brisk", I mean "I'm having a hard time fastening this button because of my shivering"...) You grab your stuff, and head out the door. It's cold.

This is about the point that you look out over the college grounds and frown. That's strange...The grass looks...paler than usual. Almost like...


Yeah. Yeah. I think you get the idea now.

So I ran over to the nearest patch of grass, bent over, and ran my bare hand over it. Yep, it was there. It was real.

Apparently, we had had a frost.

I started laughing so gleefully, I'm glad no one was around. I literally just crouched there and said, "Oh my God..." while running my hand over it. The real fun part was scraping the ice off my bicycle seat. I just laughed to myself the whole time, like the head-case I really am.

And all the amazement that I felt for seeing my first frost was shared around, because the rest of the girls reacted with the same kind of wonder when they learned that I hadn't seen frost before.

"You tropical girl..."

I suppose I really am a tropical girl. At least, compared to here. They're so sweet, though; they humor me.

Clare and I made a point of walking through the grass and making little crunching sounds with our boots. It was only a light frost, so we left green footprints behind us.
sangre_fria: (Default)
Yeah I know, Becky; it's been a while. Even I was starting to believe that I had died...

Well, last week was bad. There's this thing called "The Fifth Week Blues", but I somehow managed to catch it a week early. Just my luck. But all the girls on my floor have been going though it as well.

"Oh, I just felt so homesick, I called my mom and she came up to see me for the afternoon."

.....Mhmmm.....I'm trying to imagine how something like that could work in my case. Nope, it's just not there.

And I finally had that serious case of food poisoning that I've been joking about for weeks. Yeah, remind me to never joke about that again. Also, I missed one of my lab practicals, and absolutely panicked. I talked to my tutor about it, and he said that it's okay, that these things happen, and that I should be fine. But enzyme-mediated reactions are not something to take lightly, so I'm going to have to study that uber-hard so it's not a weakness on the final exam.

But this week was fine, at least in my mind. The light on my bike broke and the seat is twisted, but I'll just have to go get those fixed this weekend.

Last Friday, we had our tutorial with Dr. Watkinson out in the woods instead of our usual room in South Building. Her specialty is fungi, and when I say that, I mean it. You know the essay I wrote last week about pathogenic fungi? Well, I used the recommended textbook on fungi as a reference, and guess who co-wrote it? Yep, Dr. Watkinson. (Or "Sarah", as she has us call her...) This is why I love this place so much. She's the top of her field, she literally wrote the book on fungi, and she was taking us all out on a jaunt in the woods to identify and collect specimens. How awesome it that?! She's also kindly invited Ada and myself to have lunch with her this Sunday, because we're the international students, and the homesickness always gets pretty bad on the weekends.

The girls finally managed to pry me out of my room last Saturday for Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes' Day), and we walked down to Green College to see their fireworks. It was nice, but I swear...I prefer my firework holidays to be summer holidays. Only the British would be crazy enough to have a holiday where everyone stands around outside in the cold. Heh, of course, the holiday was created because of a crazy British nutjob, so I suppose it's only fitting...

We were going to head to Teddy Hall's party afterward, but it was canceled because of a highbrow concert or somesuch, so we ended up at The Turf. I adore it there; it's just full of so much history. It's the pub that I mentioned before, the one that's nestled into a bunch of alleys near the old city wall. It was famous for cockfighting in the eighteenth century, sword fighting in the seventeenth century, and...something about the owner dying on the job in the sixteenth century, but I can't remember what the circumstances were. So yeah; it's old. It was incredibly crowded so we ended up drinking in the open air in the back courtyard, which would probably be where people used to leave their horses...

And I'm sure you're all waiting for me to talk about rowing. What can I say? It's currently the most interesting thing about my life.

On Wednesday morning, I was staring at a pair of locked gates. It was five-thirty in the morning, freezing cold, with all the gates locked up and not a porter in sight. So I'm standing there with my bike, glancing back and forth between my watch and the sign that said "back in five minutes", for about fifteen minutes. Finally, one of the porters comes strolling back from South building, and trust me, he was taking his sweet time about it. After acting like I was inconveniencing him (Look, buddy; this is your job...) and making a point of asking me if I wanted to go out and why I needed to go out, he finally unlocked the bike gate.

That's right; take your time. Oh, no, don't worry about it...I was just standing out here at half-past five in the morning because I felt like getting hypothermia. It's a hobby of mine, you see. I also like being late for rowing practice, so if you could take a little longer, I would really appreciate it...

Our first regatta is in a few weeks, and it's going to be huge. The Christ Church Regatta, and I hope we're all ready. I don't think anyone is ready, frankly, so it's good to know that we're on even footing with our opponents. Novice B is really giving it everything we've got. We're the ones that have all taken the swimtest; we're the ones that were able to catch up to and pass another crew on the river (while they were rowing full eights and were we only using bow four). We had an erg session last night, and we raced Novice C for three thousand meters. We won, and it felt really good.

I still have a ton of work to do personally, though; I felt like I was going to be sick that last fifty meters, and I had to more or less crawl off the erg afterwards. Wuss, wuss, wuss, wuss... They have two ergs down in Hall, behind the bar, so I'm going to hit one of those for a while tonight, and every night I can for the next few weeks. I wasn't able to make it to the gym session last week, but I will this weekend. And now that our Tuesday practices have been moved to Thursday, I should be able to make the Tuesday morning weightlifting practice before class now. Go for it, go!

As the girls here would say: Keen to the point of madness.

But chatting with friends back home who've done crew is always a joy. I'll paraphrase one for you.

Cass: I just ordered my rowing kit, and I'm (apparently) going to be in a regatta. What Crew Gods should I be praying to?
Ross: JOBU.
Cass: .....What now?
Ross: Jobu. God of rowing. And bow ball.
Cass: ...How do you pronounce that?
Ross: Joe. Boo.
Cass: Okay, just checking. That's hilarious; so where did that one come from?
Ross: SCC. You offer him rum, and fine cigars. And strap him to your bow ball.

Kevin and Evan's input/advice are always valuable and entertaining, as well. I don't know what I would do without my friends; die of boredom, probably. But with friends like these, I'll never have to worry about that.

I can just laugh, and concentrate on killing myself with an erg.

sangre_fria: (Default)
It's days like these that remind me why I decided to row.

Our regular practice was alright, I suppose. The cox was experienced (thank God), and we were going full eight by the end of the practice. (In other words, all eight of us were rowing, with no one left to sit the boat. Which is pretty hard to do, because everyone has to have the same balance and timing, or it'll all go to crap pretty quickly.)

It was at about this time that I realized something very important: Whoever had been sitting at Bow before me had loosened the footplate, and not tightened the screws again.


So every time I put some power into the stroke, the footplate makes a horrible screeching sound and lurches a peg lower. Lovely. And then there were the balance problems...

For those of you that aren't "boaties", it's like this:

When you first start to row, you're afraid of your oar. Seriously, you are. If it digs too deep into the water, it'll be pulled under and the handle will swing at your face. You end up thinking of it as something alive, that you have to fight for control with. You have no idea what it's going to do next, and you watch it constantly.

Once you gain more experience and confidence, you realize that you actually have control of it, and that it'll do whatever you tell it to; you just have to know what you're doing. Because if the blade does something wrong, it's your fault. You begin to understand that if the shell is listing to your side while you're sitting the boat, you can fix it by raising your hands.

Then you gain even more experience, and you begin to understand that you can adjust the balance of the boat during the stroke, again by raising or lowering your hands. That's the point at which we're at right now.

...Which means that we seesaw.

Bowside: "Oh crap! My blade isn't clearing the water, so I'd better raise my hands on this stroke!"
*Bowside raises hands, and shell lists to Strokeside*
Strokeside: "Oh crap! My blade isn't clearing the water, so I'd better raise my hands on this stroke!"
*Strokeside raises hands, and shell lists to Bowside*
Bowside: "Oh crap!"

But at least we're getting the hang of it now. When we got back to the boathouse, one of the other novice teams was waiting for their turn. And well, what do you know? Three of them showed up late, and two of their crew just didn't show up at all, for no apparent reason. I mean, it's not like it was early morning and someone overslept. This explains why they're Novice D. Oh, and one of them had never been out on the water before. That also explains it.

So I volunteered to be one of the two people to stick around and row for a few more hours with them. (Surprisingly enough, I was the one with the most experience in the entire crew.) The three that showed up late were real girly-girls. I'm not kidding, and I'm not knocking it either. There is nothing wrong with make-up, manicured nails or eye shadow that matches your outfit. But come on; don't dress up to come rowing. The one that hadn't ever rowed before was in that group, which isn't unexpected.

And where did they end up? At Four, Three and Two. As the Bow, I just had to put up with it. Especially when the cox called for Bow Four to row. Our cox was a novice (second time coxing ever), and our course was pretty erratic. And when I say "erratic", I mean that we almost crashed into the bank four separate times. I swear to God, if we rip off our bow ball, I'm going to have it mounted and give it to the cox...Apparently, no one had ever told Two that you're supposed to row at the same time as the other people in the boat....Yeah, that might be a good idea. Three was the newbie, and she had no idea what to do. Frankly, I'm surprised that she knew which end of the oar to row with....I have only three words for Stern Four: Sit. The. Boat. And I swear to God, the rest of us weren't rushing the slide; Stroke just must have been trying to take naps during the recovery...

Pretty amusing, actually. I didn't get mad or frustrated at all; I just sat back and enjoyed the show. I was probably the only one because a) I was at Bow, and you see everything and b) because everyone else couldn't keep their eyes in the boat.

Two: "Wow, rowing sure is hard work. But now I can rest and watch the ferry that's coming, because I'm just kind of sitting here..."
Three: "Hmm, look at all the ducks on the river..."
Four: "My oar is fascinating."
Five: "Mmm, the guys over in the Pembroke College shell look good in that spandex...."
Six: "Oh crap....It's so hard to row right now with the shell listing to my side. Maybe if I take long, pleading looks over my shoulder at the bank coach..."
Seven: "What's Stroke doing? I'll just watch her oar..."
Stroke: "I wonder how long I can make this slide? I guess I'll just stare at the cox and wait for her to tell me when put it in the water..."
Cox: "Umm, we're going to crash again. What should I do? I'll look to the bank coach for direction..."

Priceless. Absolutely priceless. I was trying not to crack up the whole time, because it was just so sad. It's no laughing matter, to be honest, but hey...If we crash, I'll be the one that has to be scraped off whatever we hit.

So it's good to have a sense of humor.
sangre_fria: (Default)
My life is so awesome.

And no, I'm not going to rephrase that. Because even though things are tough here, it's all so worth it. I should probably explain this a bit.

The other day, I was almost hit by a bus. That's right; an honest-to-God bus. If you're trying to ride your bike down High Street, and you need to turn right, here's what you have to do: you have to steer your bike one-handed and signal with your other arm, then cross traffic to the turn lane. Once you're there, you just have to hope that the cars on either side of you can see that you're there. I was sitting there at the red light, squeezed into the bike turn lane with a huge truck on my right side. On my left, a bus tried to go ahead and squeeze by. (Yeah, the streets here can get a bit narrow...) It's not even like the bus had slowed down to squeeze through; the driver hit the gas, as if moving faster would somehow help him get past. So the only warning I had was the engine of a bus suddenly revving right behind me, and suddenly there's a huge yellow monstrosity flying past. It was one of those moments when you realize what's happening, and you just go very still. I must have been been as white as a sheet, because that one really scared me. I usually like to have at least two inches between my arm and a passing bus...

Oh, and that wasn't my only brush with rush-hour traffic. On Tuesday, I had gotten up before the sun to make it to a crew practice. We hit the gym, and spent a few hours weight lifting. So by the time I had to head back to college that afternoon, my muscles were essentially done for the day. That's what I get for pushing myself like that, and then sitting still for a few hours; the muscles get sore and stiff pretty quickly. So riding my bike back to college (uphill nearly the whole way), my legs just weren't cooperating. It's not even like I was out of breath; they just couldn't move fast enough. So to get back to Hilda's, you have to merge with traffic and follow a roundabout. That's right; you're pedaling like Hell in the middle of traffic. Well, some smartass guy in a lorry decides that I'm not going fast enough. It's not even like I was in his way; he was next to me. So he rolls down his window and starts yelling at me.

Look, I'm sorry. Yeah, I know I'm not going as fast as I should be, but then again, I'm staying to the left. I'm in nobody's way over here; just shut up and pass me. Yeah, same to you, buddy. Have a nice day.

People in cities can be real jerks sometimes. But I got back alright, if a bit irate. Yesterday, I was almost hit by another bus, but I think I'm getting used to it now. It's just something you have to live with, because no matter how close to the sidewalk you ride, they're going to try to squeeze past.

I finished an essay on bacterial metabolism last night, so now I have to start writing my next one. It's supposed to be on how the control of gene expression can cause such biodiversity, which should be interesting. I'll have to do a lot of reading, though.

I made Novice B, which means three practices a week (not counting when Novice A is a person short and I have to step in). Not too bad, but I'm going to try to make it to the senior gym practices if I can, because I really need to work on my strength. I have a lot of work to do if I want to be ready for the Christ Church Regatta. My mom is still convinced that I should have just been a cox, but you know how moms are; I think she's still half-afraid that I'm going to "fall out of the boat".


I have a swim test tonight, which should be a doss. We have to swim twenty-five meters on our backs and twenty-five on our stomachs, pick a brick up from "deep" water (1.8 meters, which is about six feet), and tread water for a minute. It should be pretty easy for me, I think. Nothing compared to what West Shore's crew team had to do...No wonder you guys were so crazy ripped.

I was sitting in lectures today, and I glanced down at the desk to see "I *heart* arthropods" written into it. I nearly caused a scene, trying not to crack up.

...Yeah, this is definitely the place for me to be.


sangre_fria: (Default)

May 2008

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