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SNORTNESS


I am becoming more and more proud of my many English ancestors. Despite that stiff upper lip, that is one people you do not want to ever piss off. They fight like furies! And they cuss like sailors. It was for no little reason that the French called them the Goddams!

WHOA


Oh, my God! I have a birthday coming up! I almost totally forgot in all the excitement around here.

One thing guaranteed to make me forget my birthday is picking up my books for the new semester. ALL 25 OF THEM! All but six are for one class. Going to be reading Tolstoy, Chekov, Hemingway, Carver and others, and it isn't a lit class, either. It's Form and Theory of Prose Writing. The Russians are arguably the best short story writers ever, and any chance I get to read Chekov is a chance I'll grab. The prof told us in an email that the reading list would cause bankruptcy. I wasn't concerned about it breaking my bank. However, I was concerned about it breaking my arm on the way to my truck! Drool city, man! Total English major geekiness here. I'm digging this stack of books sitting on the floor by my bed!

And the prof is a Bulgarian, so he knows the Russian language. He was most insistent about the translation of Tolstoy and Chekov we picked up, so I'm sure they are the best and capture the nuances of the language.

This isn't the first course I've had taught by a professor whose primary language isn't English. Their takes on our language are always fascinating, and they seem to appreciate it in ways that we natives don't. Kinda makes me ashamed. I take this Celtic-Latin-German-Norman hybrid for granted.

Unfortunately, our wedding anniversary falls on a Monday this year, and that's my long day at school -- I'll be gone from 10:30 AM until 10:30 PM. WAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! I've never been away from Trish for our anniversary before. I'll have to leave her a nice present to come home to.

MOVING STUFF


It looks like a bomb went off around here. Everyone's packing and moving.

The roomies are almost moved out. The house they're moving into is only a few miles away, so they've been taking stuff over for the past week. We won't move untl the first weekend in February, and we'll do it all at once.

Later today, I'll make my truck look like a bootlegger's vehicle and get boxes from the liquor store. I refuse to pack books in anything bigger ... I'm not breaking MY back!

I am a little concerned about the logistics of the move. Our roomie John has volunteered a pickup truck and a large trailer. That will save us a bundle! But it's an open top trailer. We only have seven pieces of furniture. However, we have close to 100 boxes -- books, kitchen items, what nots, art pieces, etc. You can't stack boxes too high on an open flatbed. Although Trish has a great idea -- bundle the boxes together and wrap them with wire. In other words, make hay bales out of them. That ought to work just fine. We're only going for an hour drive. The fragile stuff we can put in my truck or in Trish's car.

We're so looking forward to moving to Denton! UNT is only ten minutes from our new apartment. Right now, I spend six hours a week in my truck driving to and from school. I'm about to gain six hours of reading time! No more having to hang around on campus for five hours between classes, either. I can go home, eat lunch, go to the gym, read for class, and then go back. I won't know what to do when I come home from night class and not feel exhausted from an hour drive through dark skunk infested backwoods.

And Trish's commute, while longer in mileage, will be shorter in time by 15 minutes since it's straight up and down the interstate with no red lights or school zones. I got her one of those little adapters that plays her iPod through the radio, so now she can listen to her tunes and enjoy the trip. And if anything happens to her car, there's a very nice gas station at almost every exit and police patrols almost every fifteen minutes.

Well, gotta go get boxes and get packing. Crap don't pack itself you know.


GEEKVILLE

Well, I just ordered a new laptop.

My two year old Dell is still running strong, after having a brain transplant (hard drive quit a month ago), but it's always been too sluggish to handle my 3D art very well. It has a video card built into the motherboard, and really, to handle 3D art, I need a dedicated gaming card. I don't do a lot of gaming, but gaming systems eat cad-based 3D for breakfast and spit out pixels.

I ordered a Sager NP8130, thanks to a recommendation by gothelittle . The Sager I wanted was discontinued just last week, but a larger, more powerful unit was on sale, so I didn't spend too much more. Still half the price of a comparable unit from Apple or Alienware.

With a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX video card (1.5 gigs onboard memory) and 6 gigs RAM, I bet this thing yawns at the idea of creating a render with six models in it.

Trish will get my Dell, so we can both go to the park and write (when it warms up).

Snort. It wasn't all that long ago that Mom bought an IBM PS2 with a 20 meg hard drive. I told her she'd never fill it up. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Now, I need a new phone. The receiver in mine died after being dropped repeatedly for three years. Do they still  make simple little flip phones? You know, phones.


THINGS TO DO ON A SNOWY DAY


Yes, today is a snowy day. It does snow in Texas occassionally. I had no idea! Until I moved here, my only images of Texas came from old western movies, which always showed the place as hot and dry. John Wayne lied to me! However, if it's going to be cold, at least it's pretty.

Trish is recovering from a nasty sinus infection. We have snow. We have chicken soup. We have bourbon (none for her with those antibiotics). We have ice cream. And we have episodes of Star Trek that we found on Hulu. Good day to stay in!

WOO HOO

I GOT THREE As!

So after twelve hours, I am holding a 4.0.

I seriously did not expect three As this semester. In two classes, I felt like I was in over my head. Either graduate school professors are more forgiving, or I really am a genius of hard work.

So, last night, we had a full moon, on the solstice with a total lunar eclipse. And just as the moon went total, a shooting star sped by it. I believe in omens. So, what's going to happen? Somehow, I feel like it's going to be good!


ARTSY COUPLE

Okay. Most of you who know us, know that Trish and I are ... uh ... very erotic. But we now have more than that in common to keep us up late at night. We've become artists.

Trish has been working on a Naruto fanfic picture, and I've been walking her through the use of GIMP. Apparently, I'm a pretty good teacher because the finished product is phenomenal! I can't take any credit for that ... Trish is one durn good manga artist. Just wait until she opens her Christmas present, hee hee hee.

In my little realm, I decided to make a dvd of my graphic novel for a buddy in Florida. It'll be a slideshow kind of film. But I wanted a small animated section at the beginning. It's grown. And grown. And grown. It's now 2.5 minutes long. I'm timing it to "Freedom Fighters" by Two Steps from Hell, the music that played in the Star Trek Zero trailer. I have to admit that I'm pretty durned impressed with myself. A lot of the credit goes to the animation segment of DAZ Studio, which keeps me from having to do too many stop motion captures (although I've had to do three so far and Windows Movie Maker does NOT like those). It is so cool to see my heroine actually move! I feel like she's a real person anyway, and to see her walk and fight baddies is really awesome.

Any way, between Trish's project and mine, we've both had several up until 5 AM nights and tonight looks like no exception.

 


THIS TIME OF YEAR


The hard drive in my computer crashed.

I am probably looking at three Bs this semester, which is barely hanging on for grad school.

Which means my future is in serious debate.

BUT ...

In light of an old college friend of mine who was just diagnosed with leukemia, I ain't got no problems! The computer is fixed, thanks to my roommate who had an extra SATA hard drive lying around. So, I have to reinstall everything. That just takes time, a major commodity my friend doesn't have. If I flunk out of grad school, I'm no worse off than I was two years ago. No big deal. And in light of what's happening with another friend, I have a loving and supportive wife who adores me, and I totally adore her and am so in love with her that it almost hurts.

In other words, life is so good ...

I do not have the right, much less the inclination, to gripe about mere irritations. Irritations just mean that I'm still alive and tomorrow offers the chance of a brighter day.

That alone is enough to prove to me that God exists.

Enjoy the season. Remember that Jesus was born to restore creation, and you are a part of that restored creation. Allow his love, joy and peace to flood you and remind you that you are not nearly as bad as you think you are. There is NO SIN that can keep you from God's loving embrace and smile. And may he smile upon you today.

DURNIT

I really need to visit New England!

Not only is one side of my family from New York and Connecticut, but I really want to meet Kookie, Joy, Lisa, Draco and Perseus! Just reading about y'all online isn't enough!

I want to hang out in the autumn evenings with Kookie and Frank. I want to listen to 80s music with Lisa. I  want to go to church with Joy. I want to tour Salem with Draco and talk horses with Perseus.

Money. It's only a matter of money. Time. Give me time, guys. I'll be up there, with the redhead right beside me.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SANTA CLAUS


I could't help it. I had to look up the right jolly old elf.

So, the name Santa Claus is an Americanized form of Sinterklass, the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas (Sint N'Klass). He came to the United States via the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Early American folklorist Washington Irving heard about him from the descendants of the Dutch colonists and wrote a story about Sinterklass, by then Sancta Klass, riding over the rooftops in a wagon on Christmas Eve. Clement Moore heard about him from Irving, and wrote his immortal poem "A Visit from St. Nick."

We can thank cartoonist Thomas Nast for the way he looks.

Kris Kringle is the Anglicized form of Kristkind, or Christ Child. Martin Luther kicked St. Nicholas out of Christian celebrations of Christmas because he was a Catholic saint, and substituted the image of the Baby Jesus as the bringer of gifts on Christmas Eve (yep, even as far back as Medieval times, people were doing that by merging the Mass of Christ (December 25) with the Mass of St. Nicholas (December 6).

Somebody, probably in the United States, merged Santa Claus and Kris Kringle together. He was certainly merged by 1947's "Miracle on 34th Street." Anybody want to place bets that someone at Hallmark merged the two?

The Dutch didn't go as far as Luther. They liked their Sinterklass, so they added pagan elements to him, borrowing from stories of Odin, to separate him from the Catholic observations.

The rest of the pagan elements we have today were added during the Romantic era of the 19th Century.

I haven't found out yet where Father Christmas comes from (Great Britain) and whether he influenced today's Santa Claus, or if Santa Claus influenced him, or if he's a holdover from the old German-Catholic version of St. Nicholas. Given Queen Elizabeth's attempt to walk a line between Luther and Catholics, I suspect the latter.

From pugilistic kindhearted bishop to fat guy in a red suit who gets peed on in malls. That's what popular culture and some deft mix-and-match will do to anyone.

But that doesn't stop us from enjoying, and enacting, what Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Sinterklass, Kriskind, St. Nicholas and Jesus stand for. Generosity and unconditional love.

Give yourself a gift in their names this year, even if it's just a cup of coffee and the recognition that you deserve a good life.