SCIENCE!

Finally, our long transnational nightmare comes to an end: researchers at Leeds University have perfected the bacon butty.

Scientists have created a mathematical formula of how to make the perfect bacon butty. […]
Four researchers at the Department of Food Science spent more than 1,000 hours testing 700 variations on the traditional bacon sandwich. […]
The formula is: N = C + {fb (cm) . fb (tc)} + fb (Ts) + fc . ta, where N=force in Newtons required to break the cooked bacon, fb=function of the bacon type, fc=function of the condiment/filling effect, Ts=serving temperature, tc=cooking time, ta=time or duration of application of condiment/filling, cm=cooking method, C=Newtons required to break uncooked bacon.

Just a little something to get you revved up for this weekend’s Sandwich Party.

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heads, tails

Last night, I stayed up until 3 a.m. whacking away at an essay on Antony and Cleopatra, and woke up not enough hours later with a notion of how I could rip it apart and restructure it. My brain then crossed its little symbolic arms, snooted its little symbolic nose up to the sky, and refused to do anything until I bent to its will.
Stupid brain. Why can’t you shut up and leave me be?

In any event, the paper is done now. I have no business writing here when there’s so much else to write before the semester is out, but I promised myself I would bang out a few words, just enough to reassure you I’m alive.*

I’m intensely sleep-deprived: I’m seeing sparkles of color, flashes of light, and dark slithering tails of what must be large scaly creatures lurking just out of the corners of my vision. It’s Jacob’s Ladder around here, my friends, and the infusion of caffeine I gave myself this afternoon guarantees I’ll be awake to make the most of it all night long.

The Fella has been my stalwart through the havoc of this week. He surprised me Saturday night by arriving home from work with a pizza and a Red Velvet cake (“because I’m so proud of you”) just around the time I blearily looked up from the keyboard and started wondering what I could throw together for dinner.

Yesterday afternoon, I started with “I was going to make —”

He cut in, “No, no, you’re not making dinner. I’ll get something, anything! What would you like?”

“Oh, uh… really I can easily make —”

“You. Are. NOT. Making. Dinner. What would you like?” Taking in my utterly blank look, he (bless him) got up, put on his coat, and said, “I’ll be back with something.”

Tonight, he made spicy-hot quesadillas heaping with vegetables, because I’ve been talking about Tex-Mex. And he bought ice cream.

Yes. Yes, I am the luckiest. Thank you, Dr. Beardface.

*Tonight, I heard a term for this, a term I love so much I promptly stole it. The phrase is “waving, not drowning.”

am so!

I am so working on my essay for my Shakespearean lit class.

This is just a break, to stretch my legs and get a snack.

And that episode of Buffy I watched a bit ago, that was just a break, too. I needed to, uh, stretch my brain a little bit. And get a snack.

And earlier, when I was reading blogs and compulsively reloading my inbox (even though it automatically reloads itself) in hopes that I’d get a distracting email? Well, it’s important to stay fresh and alert. And get a snack.

The most productive part of my day: reading all those online essays by other students writing on the same play (though not the same subject, since plagiarism is bad, y’all and I didn’t dare run the risk of butting up against a similar line of argument). Not that I found a single thing to use, nor did I hope to. No! But reading some one else’s work, uh, recalibrated my standard a good deal lower. That’s a relief.

I’m getting right back to it now. Really! Just got to get a snack first.

Against the advice of all the voices in my seething brain squealing “NOOOOOOOOO!,” I just used Word Count and discovered to my astonishment: I’m halfway there. That’s a mercy, anyhow.

The ontology and epistemology of childhood

As children, we have so little concrete information about the world, and such a random collection of experience-based learning, that we construct oddly poetic worldviews and beliefs.

Some of these misconstructions of knowledge have their origin in semantic misunderstandings. Having been told repeatedly by our parents that we could be anything when we grew up, I decided at about age 4 that I would be the Pope. (We weren’t a Catholic family, and I had not the faintest idea of the Pope’s role; I just liked the hat.) Given the same sort of encouragement, my sister N. eagerly looked forward to becoming a circus bear.

Other childhood misconstructions are simple mechanisms for coping with common fears. Like many children, I believed a) that the night was filled with horrors, looming unseen in the dark, hungry for my innocent self; b) that keeping my head under the blankets protected me from these monsters. As an extension of this logic, and based on I-know-not what previous evidence, I further hypothesized that c) if I kept my head under the covers and held my breath for exactly sixty seconds, I was safe uncovered for the rest of the night. Although I cannot claim that my hypothesis was proven, it surely gained credibility as, night after night, no monsters attacked.

Ah, childhood beliefs. Some are just plain silly, some are quite touching, and some have the strangely comforting Lynchian quality that pervaded my own childhood.

I had a strange fear that if I closed my eyes in the bathtub, William Shakespeare would come up through the drain and kill me. I knew his name, but I had no idea who he was, so I just naturally assumed he was some sort of bathtub vampire. —– Dan

Naturally.

Here’s Elli

Spending my day-after-Christmas in quiet reflection (tipsy from champagne), thinking about the fact that I was at the University of Texas at the same time as Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson and Rene Zellweger, getting my degree in acting. (Who knows if our paths ever crossed because I had no future-star-power detection device.) However, after sitting in the “star chamber” (end of semester evaluations with the acting, voice and movement teachers all crammed into a tiny office) and being told I was a cross between Goldie Hawn and Elvira, but not as grounded, and never being cast in a main stage production in my department, one can understand why I gave up performing and returned to the arts visual.
I’ve seen only two people from my class in major motion films: one was in a photograph as the dead wife in x and another a nurse with a few lines in something else. (Oh, and another good friend once dated Robert Rodriguez who was in the film department with one of my best friends, in whose student films I always enlisted.)
It is I who upon graduation decided not to move out to Hollywood into a trailer with two good friends and a huge dog, and instead moved back to Houston to learn graphic design. It is I who after thirteen years finally feel like I’m learning something. And it is I who have only anise flavored cookies left over on the day after Christmas. Ick.
P.S. I just googled some other classmates and see one is married to a former soap opera actress.
P.P.S. The full moon on Christmas Eve.
illustration

Closure

Whoa. Having printed off my last two papers at 8:30 this morning, I have finished another semester.

This has been a trying term, with the convergence of several particularly taxing classes. I didn’t help matters much by deciding, after two months of researching the fairly straightforward methodology of foodways and subsistence studies and only ten days before the deadline, to switch my research focus (in History of Archaeological Thought) to the much more baroque and contested field of feminist epistemology in gender archaeology. Phew.

I owe several debts of gratitude:

to Elli, who was crucial to the dialectic of determining my approach to the subject, who has offered unflagging support and cheering in the face of massive boredom, and who has endured countless updates on my progress,
to Dr. H., who accepted on faith the last-minute swerve in my research, and who perhaps knew (as I did not) how much of myself I would identify in the process;
to C., whom I’ve been helping out during her busiest season and who told me to take the week off and come back when I was done with my papers;
to interlibrary loan, who took up my offer to make them cookies in exchange for hastening the transfer of a watershed article;
to anyone who has actually read this far, for letting me release my hazardously elevated levels of blah blah blah.

I mustn’t rest on my laurels just yet; although I have printed everything out and packed my bookbag, I still need to get to the campus and turn in the darn things before the deadline.