Thursday, November 16, 2006

So this morning I walked out to my car to find a new ventiliation system had been installed during the night. A small neat hole had been punched in the back side window, evidently to let in a tiny burglar. My case of CDs that had been sitting in the back seat of the car were gone, leaving me nothing to play in my CD player, but the thief thoughtfully took the CD player from my dash as well, saving me from that dilemma.

Turns out I wasn't the only one. While I was filling out a police report, a maintainence man from my apartment complex stopped by and told the cop that another car had its trunk open, and it looked like its CD player had been stolen as well. Not only that, but another renter stopped by and mentioned that his car had been broken into the exact same way about a month earlier, same parking lot, and his friend's car as well (although they hadn't filed police reports). Sounds like the apartment complex needs more lighting at the back end of the parking lot.

Ironic Note 1: that morning at breakfast, I had been reading an article in a church magazine titled "Adversity." Like I've said before, God has a sense of humor.

Ironic Note 2: this afternoon, our apartment got a note from the management asking for quotes for a marketing campaign. Mine would probably be: "Tired of all your material possessions? Need some change in your life? Want to get your car broken into on a regular basis? Try Stadium Terrace Apartments! Our motto: if your car isn't stolen, your laundry will be!"
Last night, Child and I attended a school concert comprised of student compositions. The first student conductor got up and I thought we were about to start, but it was just silent. Five minutes later, one of the violinists finally plucked a string. Another five minutes passed, then a flute played a quavering note, followed by a three or four more minutes of silence, then a single chime.

I suddenly realized, to my horror, that this was an "interpretive" song. It was probably called something like, "My Interpretation of a Glacier Moving Through Peanut Butter," or so I judged from the speed the song moved. Approximately 500 years passed but the song finally ended, and the next one began. Unfortunately, it was exactly the same, except the glacier was moving through molasses instead of peanut butter. I sunk deeper into my seat. This might take a while.

Some of the other songs were slightly more active (the way a slug is slightly more active than pond scum) but they were all still "interpretive," which is a musicology term meaning "no melody, no beat, and no point." Random drum beats mixed with shrilling flutes, arbitrary chimes, and wayward oboe notes. Child and I agreed that half the songs were probably being made up on the spot, by composition students that had forgotten the final was that evening ("Wait, that's tonight? Dude, I've got, like, nothing ready. Guess I'll do something 'interpretive.' Should I set the metronome for 'slug' or 'pond scum'?")

The faster songs still had no distinguishable melody, and had names like, "My Interpretation of the Three Violins, a Flute, and Two Cymbals Falling Off a Moving Car, part 1 of 10," "My Interpretation of an Oboe, a Timpani, and Four Xylaphones Falling Off a Moving Bus, part 1 of 15," and "My Interpretation of a Bus and a Car Carrying Six Bongo Drums, Four Cellos, and Five Trumpets Colliding."

My favorite, though, was "A Rabid Chipmunk Loose Inside a Viola." It also had no melody, but it was amusing watching the intense look of complete seriousness on the musician's face; he obviously knew that his teacher was looking for any sign that he was making it up as he went and was desparately repeating to himself, keep a straight face, keep a straight face.

Oh, and at the end, we all got a balloon, and got to go down to the stage and wander through the instruments while the musicians played, so we could "feel the sound of the music in our fingertips." I felt like Kronk, in Emperor's New Groove. "Ooh, I'm feelin' it." I also felt like taking a Music Composition class, so I could show the other students a thing or two. ("Look! I'm playing two consecutive notes on the same instrument! Yes, it's possible!")

I guess it wasn't all bad though, there was one half-way decent part...wait, no, that was the ice cream I had afterwards. At least Child didn't attempt to strangle me as we left the concert, so that's another plus.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A few things to report, starting with last night.

Sleep Deprivation
Somewhere in the early morning hours, I was woken by siumultaneous shouting, swearing, blaring music, and flashing lights from the other bedroom in my apartment. Having spent an all-nighter the previous night, I only woke up enough to hear mixed in the crazed shouts something about "keep me awake, will you?!" then I fell back asleep.

In the morning, I asked the guy who had been doing the shouting what had happened. He explained that over the past couple months, his roommate had kept him awake with constant snoring, middle-of-the-night phone calls, and things like that. I guess he had woken up three times last night from the snoring, and had finally gone crazy. He had grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen and charged into his room, turning on the music, flashing the lights, and swearing up a storm.

Probably scared his poor roommate to death, and I guess his roommate didn't snore that night--because he didn't dare go back to sleep.

Still, there's probably better approaches to take. Heck, I've slept on a sofa for an entire semester in a different apartment for the same reason (snoring roommate).

Sleep Deprivation II
To celebrate NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), my writing group decided to pull an all-nighter writing activity. We met at Child's house and fueled by sugar-highs, started writing. It took me all night to do a single chapter, but it was the first chapter in my novel and one I had put off writing forever, so it was great to finally get it out. Granted, it'll need a lot of polishing, but at least it seemed brilliant at 4 AM in the morning.

(Child's blog post)

Last weekend I want canyoneering down in the Robber's Roost area of southern Utah. The canyon was called Little Blue John, made famous by a hiker back in 2003 who got his arm caught under a boulder while hiking alone, and had to cut if off to free himself.

I'm not sure if it's possible for canyons to be Jonahs, but we almost had another accident happen on our trip. We started hiking Saturday morning, reaching the first drop about 10 AM. It was a 25 foot cliff, but because it was a narrow slot and had a slight slope to it, it was probably down-climbable. However, we had a brand-new canyoneer with us, along with an older guy who didn't like down-climbing, so we decided to rig it for a rapel.

We made an anchor out of a pile of stones, wrapping webbing around to attach our ropes to. (Webbing is the material used in seat belts and vehicle tow ropes.) The rocks were sharp sandstone boulders, and somewhere underneath our anchor, the webbing had been mostly cut through. I was the first one on rapel, starting down a sloping ledge that led to the main drop. Right when I reached the drop, the webbing broke.

I started falling, and instictively stretched out my arms. Miraculously, I caught the sides of the crack and stopped myself about 10 feet down the drop. I got a few scrapes on one of my arms, but if it had been any other rapel (like the two 70-foot drops we did later that day), it could have easily been deadly.

Something like that accident is fortunately VERY rare in canyoneering. The group of guys I go with are very safe, and we take all precautions to stay out of trouble. Still, accidents do happen.

Most of us in the group are religious, and the rest don't object to a prayer before we start a canyon, so we've made it habit. The ironic part is that I always joke that we should stop praying, because then nothing bad ever happens and we have no stories to tell when we get home. Now I firmly believe that the Lord has a sense of humor and some might think this incident proves that, but I think he was also making a point. I guess that's one joke I'll stop making.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I think the "busy holiday season" has officially know, the one that doesn't end until the second or so week of January? Yesterday was Halloween, tonight is a surprise B-Day party for a member of my writing group (being thrown by another member of the writing group of the opposite gender), this weekend is a canyoneering trip, then football games, tests, Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas, Mexico, and finally school starting again!

Oh, and my sister is in town with my new nephew while her husband is in Italy giving a presentation on Search and Rescue at a conference. I left my camera up at my family's house, but I'll try to post some pictures later.
So an amusing incident happened yesterday to which I was tangentially related. There were three important facts that contributed to the confusion:
  • One of my roommates works with Child's sister
  • I'm moving to a different apartment in my complex today
  • Child failed to mention the move to her mom
The incident happened something like this. Her mom stopped by their work to say Hi, and according to Child, the conversation went something like this:

Mom: "Oh, so you live with Ben?"
Roommate: "Not for long!"
Mom's thought process: "Premise: Daughter's boyfriend is moving. Premise: Boyfriend hasn't mentioned this event to me. Premise: Daughter hasn't said anything about it to me either. Conclusion: my daughter and her boyfriend are about to elope."

I'm not exactly sure what her next few actions were, but I'm assuming they had to do with calling her daughter and asking a few searching questions. Anyway, the confusion was finally resolved, and I'm sure Child's mother will unhandcuff her from her house in a few days (j/k :).