I will post this in parts. It will keep me feeling like I have done something.

So, the tale of the Reach provincials of 2007, the sad, funny stories of a brain tournament in the wonderfully boring city of Scarborough (subset of the Toronto megapolis.) Olwen: Aww, can't we go clubbing that Sunday night? Cuchulain: You can go clubbing in every one of the zero clubs in Scarborough.



Up next: the rooms snafu, settling down in the rooms, the meeting, the practice game, the evening "gala" banquet...
syncategorematic: (singing)
( Apr. 26th, 2007 12:15 pm)
The good news is that I went horseback riding yesterday, for an hour and a half for the price of an hour, on beautiful trails, with an obedient but spirited and energetic four-year-old pinto mare (previously I had been put on horses that were fifteen to twenty years old), and the amusement of watching my little brother yell "Brake! Brake!" when his horse went too fast for his liking. (Hint: yelling at horses generally makes them go faster.) Also good news is that aikido muscle memory works really well on a horse, all things considered. A horse is a really big uke ;-)

The bad news is that while doing it I lost my BPTP ID case with many of my cards in it, so I spent this morning working on Logic exam and cancelling cards. Hmph.

The also-bad news is that exams are keeping me from telling you people all about the great Easter weekend I spent with Prunesquallor and her friends, from polishing Language Universals, which I want feedback on (check most of the eight previous posts), from reading the International Pixel-stained Technopeasant free fiction at community.livejournal.com/ipstp , or from, um, having a lovely hot bath, preferably with something smelly in it, and making those muscles that are not used when not horseback riding, and are complaining about it, relax.

But no, alas: I have to go study stats and logic.
syncategorematic: (erythraean)
( Nov. 25th, 2006 04:53 pm)
Alright, I fulfill my promise ([profile] sweeteepea, I will handle your meme in a moment; I already have a good outline for it, but events first!)

So on Saturday we had the 2nd Annual Ottawa High School Quiz Bowl match (co-hosted by the school and the University of Ottawa, held at the school). I was officially staff, while the school has submitted two teams.

In any case, I shall need to wrap up in a few minutes, to proceed to work on our Urban Di presentation due on Monday, so I leave you, my dear friends and passersby, in suspense, awaiting my description of my angst concerning dance, and what ensued thereof; and the Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Graduate Studies in  Mathematics and Statistics Information Session and Luncheon, which took place today.

I wish you joy.
Note that my userpic is Michelangelo's Libyan Sibyl. I know this because a question I wrote for the difficult round asked to name any one of the other Sistine Chapel sibyls other than the Delphic. I am not sure anyone got it (Libyan, Persian, Cumaean and Erythraean; Erythraean is the previous post's userpic.)


Up next: the high school NAQT tournament, and why I intend to go to Chicago again.
Note: this tale is still a work in progress, so I will be coming back to expand and edit it.



Part II - Dinner and Trivia Night proper - forthcoming

Expansion on above tale hopefully forthcoming.
syncategorematic: (erythraean)
( Nov. 16th, 2006 12:29 am)
This isn't a typo in the title. It WAS a typo in the body of an email I sent to myself bearing my Urban Di assignment material (incomplete, and one table of which I had to do all over again because we didn't save it, sheise!) since Gmail throws a hissy fit if emails are sent without text in the body, so for those emails where attachments occur I have a tendency to write brief nonsensical messages for - I figure I do not need to impress myself, because myself already knows that I am an idiot (or at least, play one on the world stage pretty well at times)

Here i am, finally after many false starts and digressions being done my pile of homework, smelling faintly of La Bella Donna Della Mia Mente, and cursing Hogg and Tanis's Probability and Statistical Inference, 7th edtion, for making very little sense in its explanations. I presume few mathematical texts make sense to me close to midnight, with Probability being my slackest course to boot (I always promise myself I will do the homework earlier...Umm...) However, the fact that the Wikipedia's articles make a lot more sense than Hogg and Tanis who were paid to write the darn textbook, angers me greatly. The Wikipedia explained it well enough that i was able to prove why the Cauchy distribution had no mean, only to discover I do not have to.

I have taken care of every round sponsor - due to nefarious calculations, using data from my Bagelshop days, as to how much ten donated pounds of coffee actually retail for - so what I now intend to do is actually insert the last little logos into the PowerPoint, make the answer sheets all sweet and pretty, and...

You gentlefolk all LOVE to follow along the progress of a high school fundraiser, don't you? But I am sure the most loyal of you are muttering, "Last spring's trivia night updates were much more fun. Where is the Dark Lord those days? Tourmaline arguing with the Dark Lord is a lot more fun to read than Tourmaline waxing eloquent over PowerPoint..."

And I am NOT waxing eloquent over PowerPoint; I just have to use the thing. I make it pretty to the best of my ability but, scarred by my experience with a very small video card, I keep it simple. (Oh yeah, and to answer your eager and expectant questions, I do not know where the Dark Lord is and I have not needed to know for the last week or so. Probably, at this hour of quarter to one, either sleeping, which is a wise and beneficial activity, or playing PS2 (3?) or  planning how to teach incompetent grade twelve students probability and statistics, which he does a lot better than Hogg and Tanis do.)

I have vented my frustrations with the work I have to do, and I will now go to bed.

Darn you, florals, why does my skin eat you for a quick snack? Wink, and they are gone, quick as a northern summer (the logician complains that a northern summer and the time florals stay on my skin are measured according to two completely different scales...the metaphor-maker replies that it is cold, and dark.)
syncategorematic: (blackvelvet- what do you think ?)
( Nov. 13th, 2006 10:45 pm)
Ok, so I have achieved the Second Interview. Now comes the joy:
Read more... )
syncategorematic: (Default)
( Nov. 2nd, 2006 11:05 pm)
Well, having a personal writing journal seems to be the cool thing to do, due to the NaNoWriMo fever gripping my corner of the LJ world, and I am a fashion victim as usual. So, dearest friends, if you wish to peruse some fantasy and criticise it left, right and centre, for you I have made the tedious conversion from Word to LiveJournal text at

http://zigzitsa.livejournal.com

If you wish to peruse that journal, pray post a comment here, explaining who you are if I do not already know, and why would you want to do that (I have not converted all of my friendslist to zigzitsa's friendslist because perhaps some people have other things to do with their spare time than read fantasy hidden under the command whose usage still eludes me, the lj-cut) and detailing your recent violations of international copyright law...(kidding about the last one.)

Once you are in, feel free to comment, criticise, question, etc.

(Incidentally, zigzitsa is a very old, archaic Russian word for a cuckoo.)
"Mommy," said the little polar bear to his mother, "am I one hundred percent pure polar bear?"

"Of course you are, honey. We've all been polar bears. I am a polar bear, and so was your daddy and grandma and grandpa. Why do you ask?"

"Because I'm flippin' freezing!!!"


I think of this joke very often. Here I am, with hundreds of generations, as far as I know, of Northern European blood, surviving the winters that stopped Napoleon and Hitler, born and bred "of midnight lands the grace and wonder" - and neither genetics nor training seem to be working (checks horoscope - Jarvenpa mentioned nothing about that, so astrology isn't working either - Juniperus, any ideas?) because I hate cold.

If I could live in a place where I never needed to see the negative scale on the thermometer (Celsius, Celsius; I believe Fahrenheit was under supreme delusions: he set the standard to be the human body temperature, 96 degrees - and got it wrong) that would be the dream of my life. I did live for one winter in a country that had no winter - and I am given to understand that the winter of 1991-92 was pretty cold and snowy for an Israeli winter. So perhaps I am doomed to have cold follow me wherever I go, the Snow Maiden, forever seeking warmth.

Anyhow, me being the tosser and turner and person who goes to bed at one o'clock, it was rather difficult for me to get up this morning. Having the Long March home from the practice interview, since my back tire is flat, in the rain, yesterday, didn't help much. Neither did, as soon as I dragged my bedraggled self into the house, getting a phone call - literally, I didn't even have my boots off - from my Acoustics partner, saying, "You know that assignment you emailed me?" "Yes (the one I stubbornly did in LaTeX, me overqualified mathematician)?" "Well, isn't the decibel scale for sound pressure level calculated using 20 log, not 10 log?"

The "Sheesh!" that was heard round the Urban Dialectology study community. Pull out the trusty calculator (My Precious - yes, both my calculators have names, and you are looking at me stranglely why?) and recode...

The interview, though, went well. I completely forgot my interview schedule, but that doesn't matter, because we managed to get it to last 80 minutes (there goes the D n'D session Mysteryperson#1 wanted to have in half an hour - evil laugh!) and sixty-one of those minutes were spent talking about hockey. kebechet, are you listening? I can picture my CD cover now:
Table of Contents:
Locations
Radio
Hockey, Ottawa Senators
Hockey, offense in
Hockey, defense in
Hockey, injuries in
Hockey, fatigue in
Hockey, goalkeeping in
Hockey, rookies in
Hockey, Martin Brodeur and
Hockey, Sydney Crosby and...

I wish you joy for now, as no more wastin' work time for me.
syncategorematic: (when I am tired)
( Oct. 20th, 2006 09:01 pm)
So, concerning the wants and the needs stated in the previous post:

Probability midterm studied for and written in record time: Oh the luxury of the open book and the multiple choice!

OSAP password gotten right after midterm: the joy of shorter lines earlier in the morning

Interview schedule completed. Equipment signed for. Practice interview subject booked - long live the Bagelshop, 'tis Mysteryperson#1 of long-ago post fame.

Trivia night activity: currently doing: Rounds 1 and 2, Questions and Answers, have been converted from PowerPoint to Keynote, animated, and I am currently wasting time on LJ while Round 2 is being converted to QuickTime. The Dark Lord is in Toronto, but he has gotten a wonderful custodian on my side, who has the authority to order another wonderful custodian to open the lab for me.

Speaking of which, my brother's math teacher met with.

Those are all the achieved needs for now. As for wants:

Bought the boots. Well, it was raining, my old boots were soaked through, I had time, I went to try them on, I found out the display boot was the last pair, and in my size... They are not beautiful, but I have longed for them, and they are (1) very comfortable (2) seriously functional, and waterproof (3) padded so they will probably not be cold in winter (4) synthetic, so the road salt will not eat them, methinks (5) quilted, and I have a weakness for quilted things (6) have a neat little pocket in the side of the calf, that the crazy adventurer in me wishes could fit a knife, but... (7) reasonably inexpensive.

That is the snapshot of my current life. There is a rant, and poetry, I may post later, but for now, I am getting out of the Dark Lord's lab, with a twinkle in my eye.
syncategorematic: (singing)
( Oct. 17th, 2006 07:55 pm)
What Tourmaline Needs To Do:

Study for probability midterm on Thursday, so as to get good grade.

Get her OSAP password renewed and apply for OSAP student loan (Ontario Student Assistance Program, for ye non-Ontario-ites): mother delivered ultimatum that her paying for both me and my brother for the winter semester is mathematically impossible (me paying for myself is also mathematically impossible) and what do I think I am, cool or something, for not taking a loan out? Of course, I had set my OSAP entry password back in high school, and forgot it long ago.

Finish up that slide show for Trivia Night on November 17 (pictures are inserted, but animation needs to be done, Tenth Round needs to be written, and the whole thing converted to Keynote, QuickTime, etc.)

Work on her obertas turns - show on November 4, and if you do not get yourself able to do the hopak sequence of turns, there ain't a whelk's chance in a supernova you are performing, honey. ("get yourself able" was not a structure of standard English, methinks, before I wrote this sentence...)

Apply for grad school, darn you, we have beaten that dead horse before.

Pick term paper subject for Cryptography and start writing paper.

Find practice-interview subject for Urban Dialectology. Sign for the equipment, by the way - horrible neck problems kept me away from class on Monday.

Finish writing the interview questions for Urban Di - by tonight.

Get further involved in the Urban Di community under study.

Clean room.

Organise and advertise the NAQT High School Tournament on November 18.

What Tourmaline Wants To Do

Rewrite first two chapters of Novel #1, attack the chaotic mess of Cool Scenes that is Novel #2, pull all the wiki notes into Novel #3, continue the very interesting draft of Novel #4, since methinks I left my characters in a sticky situation for months. And rewrite opening scene of Novel #4, for 'tis very descriptive and probably boring. And put that short story opening I scribbled down in my journal into typewritten form and continue it.

Format and compile the chat notes from my last eight tarot readings.

Run an index on said readings. Persuade LaTeX to produce an index, darnit!

LaTeX the fractal formulas for Alice Kelley's 2007 calendar.

Scan some black and white drawings of mine, and colour them in GIMP, because that would be fun.

Finish that card I was drawing in GIMP, because it is cool.

Purchase that lovely card case I saw today, for the smart deck to live in.

Purchase business card holders for the smart deck to be dressed in. (Yes, I love the smart deck. Did I write about it? No, I did not...)

Write long and loving journal post about the smart deck.

Finish that lovely Vysotsky parody that I warned about.

Purchase that edition of the Medieval Scapini that is calling my name, and play with it...

Get some nice boots (waterproof and reasonably winterproof) and a nice bag - not that mine isn't nice, but...I am a woman...

Get money.

Get back to aikido - but that would mean losing some of time to do other things on the want list.


Happiness is when the desired coincides with the real. I am pretty far from happiness right now.

I wish you joy, I go to write questions about the Urban Di community.
Listen, children,

Way, way back many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began, there was a linguistics project at the University of Ottawa. Several beginner students of Spanish were interviewed every so often, and those interviews were taped. A few months after that, some person or persons unknown transcribed those interviews in Microsoft Word.

I do not know that person or persons unknown. Which is good, because I often vow to stand them up against the wall in a row and send a loaded dump truck at them.

CLAN transcription was invented for a reason - it makes sense. It makes a fairly accurate record of dialogue, counting the uh@i's, the um@s, the &retr [/] retraces, and the stuffsies [: stuff] that normal dialogue is chock full of. If you are writing a story, you omit most of this, unless it gives clues to the plot, etc. But you do NOT, I repeat, NOT, put down only the answer, without letting people know what the question was!.

If only it was as funny as them only saying, "Forty-Two."

Yes, we still have to listen to the original tapes. And modify the files that were formerly in Word, after I have pasted them into CLAN and tweaked them enough to make them actually compile.

Do you know what an ugly sound nervous laughter is?

Alright, I will go back to tweaking Word files in CLAN so that they actually compile.
June 27 was an amazing day. Amazing in that my madness did grow great, and I learned to smell, and smell, and then smell more.

Lately previously I had been enjoying others of my newfound madnesses: Star Trek, Concolor's provided Battlestar Galactica, and the teasing and jokes of my new coworker Thalia, who replaced Carrie when the latter departed for greener pastures.

Tourmaline to Concolor, June 25
Thalia has been teasing me about my partiality for Worf ("But he's bumpy!" "On his head, yes." "But how do you know he won't be bumpy elsewhere, too? And he is unstable, with all his talk of honour.." "At least I know what drives him. I don't trust the quiet men, I like knowing what the man likes and dislikes clearly.") On Friday, she started doing an imitation of Schwatzenegger, as well as talking about crushes. I remarked that having a crush on a fictional character is the ultimate safe thing for teasing purposes, as the chances of me actually meeting "the big burly Klingon of my dreams" are nil. Thalia replies (Schwartzenegger voice): "Oh no, you're going to marry him (Worf). You're going to have his Bumpy Babies."

The Bumpy Babies sent me into paroxysms of laughter for about three minutes, with my stomach hurting for the rest of the day. Thalia also coined the word "Blingon" which she interprets as "rapper Klingon" and I interpret as "Klingon who likes jewelry."

My geek quotient is going through the roof, but as I said to Thalia, there is absolutely no one I know who is not geeky in one aspect or another. Let him who has no geekiness upon himself cast the first stone.

Concolor to Tourmaline, June 25

Bumpy Babies..I like that.

...Now go find yourself a nice Blingon who can treat you right!

Tourmaline to Concolor, June 25

Is there a bar where they congregate?


The more I watch Battlestar Galactica (infrequently, for my computer and my DVD player sporadically dislike Concolor's wonderful enabling) the more amazed I am at how good it is for a sci-fi show. Acting, story, writing, concepts...and I am only on episode 3, please keep this up!

And as for the community which made "enabling" enter my vocabulary...


Tourmaline to Irene, June 27, 2006

The order came!!!

Silk Road is in an amber vial! And there was Nephilim, Sheol, Hades, Moscow, AlShairan, Nyarlathotep, and frimpage: Blood Countess, Kyoto, Bewitched, Tum, Cathode and Faustus!

Now which to try first???

Tourmaline to Irene, June 27, 2006

This is the text of my post in the I Got My Order! thread:

OMGWTFBBQ!

Never thought I would use this, but I need to!

I got the order you can see above in my morning mail. It must have come at around 9:00, I went down at 9:30 to pick it up, first thing on getting out of bed (day off, I love ya). I danced around the room, sorted out the imps, posted, made tea...then at quarter to eleven I see a mail truck pull up, I pop out as soon as they finish to check what's there: another order for me!!!

With no CnS
Order: 5/5
Shipped: 6/22 (no CnS)
Arrived: 6/27 - super fast!!!

5 mLs of Ra, Ahathoor, Tum, Khephra (two are in amber vials, I wonder why)
Imp pack of Masabakes, Anubis (X2!), Death on Pale Horse, Scales of Deprivation, Block Buster, and Love Me
Frimps of: Twilight, Thalia, Yerevan (on wish list), Belle Epoque, Golden Priapus, March Hare, Zephyr, and Jezebel!

Now what else can happen on a day when I dream of my love in the night and the day starts like that?!!

Gotta go soap my hands; I am running out of wrists to try the booty!!
[endquote]

No, I did not dream of Worf, why do you ask?
Miracle BPALs that break all the rules: Scents that shouldn't work on you but do

Nyarlathotep!

Incense in Kathmandu made me want to be sick; even the hint of incense in Death on a Pale Horse (not listed) made me wary. But Nyarlathotep calls me to him again and again, and his incense is just enough to make him smoky and dangerous and darker, like a bad boy with a feline swagger that makes me feel quivery against all reason...


And what scents absolutely broke your heart when they did not work on you?
Hades showed me his narcissus side and nothing else. I expected a more exciting, mutable scent. I dreamed of exotic words like opoponax and ambergris. I tend to him gently, hoping that this Lord of the Underworld would someday be persuaded to show his exotic and creative side he promised before. Perhaps he fears hurting me, so only shows himself as a delicate flower. Little does he know that I am strong, I can bear a little variability, if only for the sake of CHANGE! A tear stands in my eye, as this reminds me too much of an unrequited love I am trying to persuade myself to drop, and vowed to do so the very day Hades arrived.


Alas, at a later date, that very lord of the underworld who had been so discreetly narcissus with me, showed me the other side of his nature, and I concluded that the labdanum note in both Sheol and him raises dark spectres of Donna Karan Black Cashmere, and makes me want to be sick. The dark horror of it.

Speaking of which, I am sure some of my readers (possibly even an integer rather than a fraction) are wondering, "So, what happened to the Dark Lord? He was my favourite character all along!"


Yes, all 1/10 of you will get your wish. I will tell of my last interactions with the Dark Lord.

At the beginning of May, the school's quarterly newsletter went out. In it there was a brief article on the trivia night, which included thanks to a bunch of people, including "the Dark Lord, the ideas man." But not to me. Now, as the wise Jarvenpa pointed out, both my Taurus Sun opposite Pluto in the 12th House and my Chiron in the 7th House make me a wonderful at loving and giving - as long as I feel I get something back.

And my Scorpio rising makes me absolutely anal about promises kept and trusts broken. He had told me to keep him out of this! I sought out the Lady Mollweide, and she told me she had indeed written the paragraph, she had been unaware of the Dark Lord's request for privacy, and she had kept herself and me out of this because we would get credit at the end. Oh, and they had already set a date for next year's trivia night, to coincide with a Spaghetti Night scheduled by some other service club.

I sighed and agreed, my smouldering Chiron still not fully appeased, and on the Friday before we left for Reach Provincials, I went to find the Dark Lord at lunch, hunted him, and finally cornered him.


*TOU: [% as usual, bypassing the redundant formalities] I owe you an apology for letting your name
be in the newsletter when you had requested it not be.
*DAR: It's all right.
*TOU: And Lady Mollweide told me that she had scheduled next year's trivia night for November. So I shall see you in August.
*DAR: Sure, that's fine.
%com: Tourmaline marks those words very well indeed
*DAR: Wait, I may not be there then. Well, Tourmaline, I am sorry, but I am running a little behind schedule now, so I shall talk with you later.
*TOU: It is ok. Later whenever. I need to go get some lunch.

And so I went to Toronto, musing to myself. Just before the eventful weekend I had already written poetry about, I went
down to the Mac lab again; the other Lord who taught the combined graphic arts course had left the door open, and I had walked in with my usual silence, and greeted them both, startling the other one. The Dark Lord was robed in white as he, as usual, wrought magic over his laptop.

I recounted to him the tale of my line from the Toronto gala: "Just give me your contact information, sir, and I'll sell you the Robotics Club!"

"Wait a couple of years," said the Dark Lord.

Then the well of our conversation ran suddenly dry. My desperate Ceres conjunct Chiron in the seventh house ("Ideas, exchange of information, learning, talking, writing--these are things that feel to Tourmaline as "yes, I am being cared for" and are the primary ways she tries to care for others") sought for other topics, but it was awkward, it was artificial, it was painful. To this day I will not know why he wore white. And, now that I think of it, why should I care?

"I will go," I said, and turned on my heel.

There came a word that seemed very odd, as its semantics did not match its intonation, which did not match its context, a context where I had never heard it before.

"I beg your pardon?" said I.

"Sorry," the Dark Lord repeated.

"A good long weekend to both of you," I nodded, and walked out. I now forget what song I sang as I headed beneath the blossoming lindens to the university lab, where I, and my Chiron conjunct Ceres in the seventh house ("Fears about communication, a sense from childhood of not being heard properly...") were needed.

I finally realised what I needed from the Dark Lord to carry on a proper conversation; he is not like Concolor, with whom one could talk about anything and feel the communication justified. To communicate with the Dark Lord, a teacher with inarguable talent for his job, you need to ask a question. And right now, I wrote, I lack questions that are (a) those he can answer (b) those he will answer (c) those that I cannot answer myself easily in other ways. The Dark Lord, unlike Tourmaline, is not a trivia machine. I am sorely in need of friends, but it is no use trying to make friends out of oracles.

So I wrote.

After Chicago, one of the first people I wanted to chat with was Lady Cauchy, so on Wednesday, the day after I slept for thirteen hours, I went to the math office after work, and gave on the door my usual double knock that I had not made in a long time. And a tall figure in blue opened the door, whom I did not expect to meet there and was not prepared for.

"Can I help you?" asked the Dark Lord, and I saw him smile for the first time in a long time.

When I am caught off guard, I can say wrong things; and I believe I had explained that the Dark Lord always makes me say the wrong things, for such runs the interaction. I said something to the effect of, "No, what would I talk to you about? I no longer need the lab," and requested to speak to Lady Cauchy.

Of course you all know what happened then: I hardly recall what I spoke to Lady Cauchy about, I was clearly aware of the Dark Lord leaving the math office behind my back, and (we all know you, Tourmaline, you would not be Tourmaline any other way, and we really should make a habit of provoking you to be rude to us, because the aftershocks are so fun) Tourmaline was haunting and hunting the hallways the very next day. To do what? Chorus it, Best Beloved: a-po-lo-gize.

I did manage to find him, and in a classroom, to boot.

"First of all, I need to apologise, I did not mean to be so rude yesterday, and I do need to talk to you," quoth I.

As usual, he said it was all right. As for the proposed discussion (I was a little amused-afraid to contemplate that he might be afraid of my asking him more than he was ready to answer), he suggested the exam period.

"When?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "I have supervision in the gym on the first day..."

An announcement came through the P.A asking teachers to log off the system as they meant to do something about it. The Dark Lord asked me to wait a little as he needed to check his email before he got off the system.

"Sorry," he said. "It is all right," said I, wondering why him apologising me seemed like such a rare thing, and so fine.

I left soon after, with the idea of the exam period clear in my mind. Alas, the Dark Lord, for all of the powers he is renowned for (irony at silk setting) has no clear visions of the future.

On Monday I came and saw him, and he asked me to come on Tuesday or Thursday. On Tuesday I came and could not find him at all. On Thursday, when he wore red (red? Yes, red, and the sad thing is that I did not get my brain completely addled by the sense of wrongness of that; the Dark Lord of kyanite colours that I had know and loved has changed) he asked me to come on Tuesday or Wednesday the next week, after the exams were finished. Now it is a deep sign of something wrong with me that I actually did not give up, for I did need the Mac lab.

On the Tuesday, that eventful Tuesday June 27, I went to the school. I had a sneaking gut feeling that I will not be able to find him again, but I wrote my excuse as talking to Lady Cauchy (and the Choco Leibniz ritual...)

Sneaking gut feelings are often unreliable, and sometimes kablooie.

Lady Cauchy and I had a long and happy conversationl she too had been shocked at the Dark Lord's use of the colour red, apparently more shocked than I was, whatever that means. I introduced her to my blog's "50 Reasons Picard Is Better Than Kirk" post (and, sly imp I am, added the blog, not the post, to her Favourites file) and downloaded The Picard Song for her. Alas, we could not hear it on her laptop, but she said she will get to listen to it at home, where her sons may know what to do about this. Then I went to the Mac lab - on the off chance.

Another teacher coincidentally let me in, and so, for the last time this year, I did finally ask the Dark Lord about plans for next year.

He inquired further into the logistics of having Trivia Night and Spaghetti Night, since he had already discussed the disadvantages of the cafeteria at great length. I said that I will email Lady Mollweide that very day to inquire about those details (I did; as of the time of this writing, she has not replied to me).

So about the use of the Mac lab, he said he was amenable to the very first day of school; I repeated the question several times, so he better have been sane when he said that, because I am taking him at his word.

As I moved to go, I offered to share with him too the boundless glory of the Picard Song. He politely declined; "Not in the mood." I was a little startled at this being the same man who once upon a time quoted Star Trek left, right and centre, but whatever.

"So on the very first day of school I shall be back to haunt and bother you," I said by the door.

"You never bother me."

Now I have evidence to contradict that, but who am I to dispel illusions that work to my advantage? "I will find a way. Have a good summer."

And thus, closure achieved, and no more Dark Lord Saga for the summer, you readers may skip to this point.

Last night, on the full moon of July 10, I applied Khephra as usual, and I had a dream:

Ra is stronger than ka (Egyptian soul) or Kali.

I lie, tossing and restless, on a bed when this idea comes to me, and afterwards I go to a school, where they perform dramas in the bathroom - Ra is stronger than Kali - and I have to collect gems of lapis lazuli and turquoise and chrysocolla, but a skinny urchin steals a ball of turquoise from me, and I make him give it back or else I will throw him by his wrist over my shoulder. I make the acquaintance of Professor Kingsley, a blue-eyed, curly-headed man, who saws down birches for me, large ones near the school, because Ra is stronger than Kali. I go up with A. Rosenbaum, who is inviting us to a choir concert, and I see in the library twenty volumes on astrology, bound in soft green leather. I cannot take out even Volume I, but I help the women with me fold glossy paper over the library selections they had chosen. Ra is stronger than Kali.

That Ra, the god of the rising sun, may be stronger than Kali, Hindu goddess of war, is a fairly obvious moral. Is it worth disturbing my dreams to tell me that peace triumphs over war?

If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Pyotr Chaikovsky.

I AM the Real Chaikovsky! Considered by most Westerners to be the greatest Russian composer of all, most late 19th Century Russians think I'm actually too Westernized in my musical tendencies. Despite this criticism, as well as the flak I had to take for my preference of Y-chromosomes, my ballets "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake" are upheld as among the greatest and most popular pieces of all time.

Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test



If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Sergei Rakhmaninov.

I lived in the early Twentieth Century and was well known for my compositional, conducting, and piano skills, yet I am melancholy despite this talent. My famous works include my nearly-impossible piano concerti.

Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test

I got Chaikovsky the first time, but there were several questions where I could think of three equally plausible answers, depending on my mood, and the other two answer options both gave me Rakhmaninov.

Thanks, Athaira!

If I were one of Elgar's Enigma Variations, I would be Sir Edward Elgar (E.D.U.).

I am the exalted composer of this magnificent work, surrounded by my adoring circle of friends. I am energetic and somewhat enigmatic myself, a big fan of codes and logic puzzles. As for the abbreviation, it's a paraphrase of my wife's pet name for me, Edoo.

Who would you be? Enigma Variations Personality Test



Ladies and gentlemen, a math problem: If eight people are going to a hotel, and it is four people to a room, how many rooms will be rented?

Two, right? With fifteen years of math training, I thought so too. No, the correct answer is four, as this is not a mathematical, but a sociological problem.

There was a certain emptiness in me that weekend, as I realised I did not have to go anywhere, I did not have to eat out, I did not have to spend more hours of my time before a computer screen. It was a restless weekend; I got some loose ends of my His de Maths presentation tied up, and I learned from Ida the physiotherapist at dance that most people are inflexible enough that making suspects sit cross-legged with their hands resting on their heads is considered a stress position by interrogators. A stress position?

And I had a problem.

Lady Mollweide to parents of trivia team members, cc'd to me, excerpt:.
Revised cost breakdown for Chicago

Trivia Night prizes 450.00
Trivia Night Refreshments, posters, clipboards etc 100.00
Registration for NAQT tournament (discounted) 380.00
Return flight for 5 players plus 2 (female) coaches + male chaperone 4503.92
Air Canada - Tango Plus depart Thursday (?) a.m. return Sunday evening)
Hotel Rooms 4 rooms x 3 nights x 80.00 960.00
Transportation in Chicago $10.00 per person per day 240.00
Insurance (cancellation and health) estimated 800.00

Extras
Boat trip(est.) 160.00
Gallery and museum admissions 150.00
Food top-up + money cushion (?) 500.00
Team clothing (?) 250.00
Total 8493.92


Incomings

3 bake sales (so far) at approx $100.00 300.00
Refreshments at Musical 350.00
Sale of leftover drinks, refreshments 200.00
Trivia Night 50 players x 20.00 1000.00
Sponsorship / Donations 1400.00
Car wash(est) 200.00
Raffle (est) 200.00
Tutoring (est) 200.00
Coffee sales (est) 150.00
Plant sales (est) 200.00


Tourmaline replies:

Sorry, where is the 4 rooms for 3 nights for $80.00 coming from?

I registered two rooms for 3 nights for $80.00 - that was the special price for quadruple occupancy using the discount code provided by the tournament organisers. If we are looking for double occupancy, the discount code will not apply and so I bet they would not be $80.00 per night. So either way, 4 rooms for $80.00 is inexact.

We need to get the rooms issue resolved soon; perhaps a parent poll - "Do you allow your son, Player X, to share a bed with Player Y and a room with Players W and Z, if that means there are less headaches for Tourmaline (Coach T) and Lady Mollweide (Coach C) and less money you have to pay/raise?" Would it be foolproof if the parents sign a waiver saying yes? If the entire United States, or high school trivia teams thereof, are doing it?

Back when our grade 8 band had a trip to Canada's Wonderland, we had quadruple occupancy (lads on one floor, ladies on another) and I never heard on the school grapevine of any problems (well, I can only speak for four 14-year-old girls, and about the worst thing we did was play Truth or Dare...). I think both Lady Mollweide and I would be informally polling teachers who had handled similar trips in past years to see how this had worked out. Other than the Principal, we did not hear of any other concrete objections.

There is also the question of, since we decided it would be fair to bring 5 players, even if we go into quad occupancy, one lucky gentleman will get to sleep in the adults' room, and the issue of the beds in the adults' room is another thorny issue entirely.

In past trips to the Reach provincials, the boys have behaved themselves very well, did not trash rooms etc, and as far as I know neither left anything behind, nor damaged property or each other, nor brought or used any forbidden substances. On the other hand, for the last three or four years at least, Reach has been giving players single rooms.

This is the reason I am cc-ing this letter to the parents: I think you should be fully informed and able to contribute on the issue of accommodation for your sons.

Tourmaline


Of course, I went to school to be reminded that I have more things due on Monday April 11 than I can shake a stick at. And then I skipped trivia practice, despite the ICT this weekend, and went instead to keep my promise to the Dark Lord and clear out my desk. This time for sure.

"Do you have a moment?"

He looked up from his laptop in his classroom. "Do you need me to let you into the Mac lab?"

"Yes, and I may also need some advice."

"What about?" As I expected, he was guarded.

"When you took the volleyball team to OFSSA, how many people did you have per room? I asked you about this before, and you hedged your answer."

"Four. Four to a room, I think."

"And there were no objections to this?"

"I gave them the choice, either that or sleep on the sidewalk. There were no objections."

"And that is the way it is usually done? Four to a room?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Really? Because the principal is objecting to us now."

"What about?"

"Well, for our trip to Chicago. Since the whole tournament is taking place at a hotel, the hotel is offering us a low rate for quadruple occupancy. But the Principal objected. She said 'teenagers should not be sleeping four to a room,'" I outlined the situation.

"I do not see why this is so. They stood it. You do have to take a chaperone along, right? Because the coaches are female?"

"Yes, we are. One of the parents, probably." If none of them pull through, you're next on my list, my dear. But I did not say that.

"So you are going to have to put him in a separate room; he'll love you for it."

"Why so?"

"So that no one will disturb you when you are in your undies," he replied, with slight difficulty at my stubborn questioning of this taboo. I was reminded of the Sex and the City episode: "I was not raised in a naked house." "Neither was I. She probably was." While I am young and have the abs of an aikidoist and the legs of a dancer, I like myself in my undies, thank you very much.

He continued, "If there was a female chaperone coming with the volleyball team, I would have put her in a separate room all by herself."

"And she would have loved you for it," I said.

"She would have. Seeing members of the same sex in their undies is ok; seeing members of the opposite sex is taboo. And it can lead to big problems."

I thought of our wonderful dojo, with the washroom-and-corner to change in; spend enough time practicing low-budget aikido, and you forget about any such taboos. Guys all look the same. As do girls.

"So talk it out with Lady Mollweide."

"I will; I am just polling various people. So I will need the iMac."

"So you will need four rooms. You can put 2 guys in one room and 3 in another and rotate so that one of them gets a single bed."

The ridiculous mathematics of this! Even if Lady Mollweide talks Lord Mollweide into going (or I take a lover), I can see that instead of Lady Mollweide and me, The Man, and the team, it will have to be The Couple, The Other Woman, and the team. Come to think of it, I'd like to be the Other Woman. And bounce around on TWO queen beds all by myself.

"Or we can have one of them sleep on chairs," I recalled our grade eight trip to Canada's Wonderland, where Athaira preferred to sleep in two armchairs instead of with me (Athaira, that experience made me feel inadequate ever since; just kidding).

"Or get a bus," he suggested. "It is Chicago, there are buses, get one of them to ride on them back and forth. Once it finishes, make him go on another bus," he paused before an exit.

"Pick a direction, any direction," I called cheerily.

"This way." He let me ahead of him into the drizzling afternoon.

"It's rainy."

"We won't melt," he replied. "Contrary to popular belief, I am not a warlock."

I stopped in my tracks. "Hold on a moment, paradigm shift here. You are not a warlock?"

"Nope."

He let me go on ahead of him (never let a warlock at your back!) while he reprimanded a bunch of lads for playing ball in the traffic circle. "We did get one student hit by a car and get head trauma; we don't want to lose any more students."

When he caught up with me, I asked, "When did this happen?"

"A few years ago."

"Before you came or after?"

"I think it was a little bit before I came."

"Then I must have been there," said the sage elder me, "and I have never heard of this story."

We proceeded down to the Mac lab. "This won't take you long, would it?" he asked. "You just need to erase your files?"

"And iTunes," I reminded him. "Your students don't need to listen to my wonderful comforting German music." Oh, la plage de St. Tropez, we had a dirty love affair and there is music in the air when we're in love...

"Well, it won't take long. Because I have six students waiting for math help upstairs."

"Crying?" I grinned with anticipation of the sight.

"No, just trying."

"You aren't doing your job well, then."

"I told them I do not appreciate crying."

I settled down to the iMac and selected my folder for termination.

"So how did it go?" the Dark Lord asked me .

I gave him a quick summary. "Well," he replied, "I am sure they were all really impressed with your efforts."

"It is not what you are sure," that way of his of being certain of my success has always annoyed me, even though I know he knows no other way to express himself in this context, "it is what they are sure."

"That's true. So, would you do it again?" the Dark Lord asked as he did his own fussing with another iMac. He knew the answer already, probably. In that sense, he knows me not wisely but too well.

"You know, when Lord Bedivere announced 'The School's first annual Trivia Night!' I wanted to say 'You've got to be dreaming in Technicolor!' "

"You mean, you did not mention to Lady Mollweide that this is a one-time contract?" he teased.

"Well, you know, Dark Lord," I said, "you accused me once that I like volunteering for stuff. It is indeed a flaw of mine. A really big flaw."

He laughed, and I deleted the iTunes in one massive clump. We spoke of the future of the Mac lab, and of burning the DVD of the musical.

"Well," I said, having nothing more to do there but to let the Dark Lord consume his dark chocolate, "I shall see you around."

He shut the Mac lab door and turned out the light; we were in darkness in the outer lab as he said, "Well, I hope it all irons out for you."

If it irons out, this blog would not be interesting for my fan club to read. "As soon as something irons out, something else takes its place. It's a fact of life," I said.

"I mean, about your trip and all," he opened the outer lab door and we proceeded upstairs.

"Whether it irons out or not," I said, "I am going ahead with it. Darn those other hotel rooms, though, they're on my credit card."

"They're on your credit card?" he repeated as we crossed the courtyard.

"Well, I reserved them on my credit card."

"And you are sure the school will pay you back?" he looked at me archly.

"If they're not, I would sever all..." I began, and then, in the words of CHAT transcribers everywhere, "triple-slashed." My connections with the school will not pull a single brick of it down if I severed them - except for maybe that of Lady Mollweide and the trivia team. "If not, I would sue them."

And very maybe that of the Dark Lord. "You'll have to make a PowerPoint presentation to the judge about it."

"Keynote, Keynote!" I laughed. "I'll go to you."

And thus went the first real true Dark Lord and Tourmaline conversation in months and months.

And so endeth this part of my saga, but since there are still plenty of loose ends, it would be an insult to my readers to end the story now. More tomorrow.
syncategorematic: (erythraean sibyl)
( Mar. 31st, 2006 12:48 pm)
And so Friday came. And after work came.

I ran down to the Social Science office, carrying the laptop along. "Please tell Lady Mollweide that if anyone needs me I will be in the Mac lab. The dungeon one."

I managed to locate the Dark Lord. As we walked to the lab itself, and a silence I find uncomfortable fell, I asked, "How many InFocus projectors does the school have?"

"Thirteen, I think," the Dark Lord replied.

"Well, then there will be plenty for us," I pondered this. But then the Dark lord elaborated that at least seven of them are in the math classrooms and could not be moved. I winced, "I should have asked how many usable InFocus projectors we had."

"Well, there is the one in the main office..."

"The one Lord Administrator and I tested yesterday."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Ok, is there a way to network together an iBook and an iMac so that I can get the other files?"

The lab was peaceful. The Dark Lord showed me, after a couple of misunderstandings (I could not recall now whether it was to be turned off first or not) the wire connection that slaves the iMac hard drive to the iBook, and I began transferring my files. Meanwhile, the Dark Lord worked on his laptop at the other end of the room.

I tested the iBook's internet to download the music I needed. "Dark Lord, is there wireless in this building?"

"You kidding me?" He found me an Ethernet plug. I now know what an Ethernet plug looks like, but more on that later. Thankfully, downloading did not take that long, and I settled down to fixing the animations for the shows I did not do the night before, in the peace of the quiet Mac lab. Then the phone rang.

The Dark Lord, naturally, picked up. "It is for you." The AVA, darn them, wanted me to come and test the laptop. I considered the idea of reconnecting it all once I returned, then realised I now needed neither the iMac nor the Internet, got the Dark Lord's assurance that the lab will be open for me when I return, and proceeded upstairs.

My low opinion of the AVA was justified. No one knew who was supposed to do what, or how the game was supposed to be run; the AVA head thought that he will be managing the slide show; I replied in no uncertain terms that I trust no one but myself with my brother's laptop. The laptop worked on the single InFocus there, and so I informed them that a second InFocus will be needed, I will be back at 5:30, and returned to the Mac lab to finish my work. Not that I could not finish my work any otherp place, given that I had a laptop, but, as I had remarked when I first saw the Mac lab, and which had now proved to be a prophecy, the Mac lab was the place to hide out when warfare and chaos were raging above. The lab was peaceful.

"So it works," I told the Dark Lord.

"So you will not need my laptop then?" he asked.

"No, I don't think so. You were the one who said that Friday nights should be to go out and watch movies...and watch V for Vendetta... But I do need to get an InFocus projector."

The Dark Lord at first indicated I should apply to Lady Mollweide, then, to my own surprise, volunteered the use of the one in the lab.

I fell to more correcting of the show. I did not turn iTunes on; I felt that the Dark Lord himself was tense and tired, as he worked in silence on his own stuff. But I cannot live without music, not when the task at hand only occupies part of my mind; I cannot remember when I started humming, but it was a mixed medley of all the soundtrack of this great endeavour. Catching myself, I issued the source of all my success a respectful "If my singing bothers you, tell me and I'll stop."

"No, it is all right," came the response that made me file the Dark Lord still farther into Not Normal. He himself was going to stay there until his students returned him the cameras they had borrowed for their assignments, however long that would take. Two of them came to return cameras - I believe. I have now become proficient at obeying the Somebody Else's Problem Field.

I did not have time before 5:30 to complete the entire corrections; I knew I still had Sports to do. But the Dark Lord packed up the InFocus for me.

"Oh, and Tourmaline?" he remembered. "The same remote works for both projectors. So when you are pointing it, make sure you point it directly at one or the other."

"Thank you," I said. "So, after the trivia night is done, how do I return this projector?"

"Oh, leave it to Lady Mollweide. She is the department head, she will be the one to return it."

"Ok. So, if I do not see you again tonight, I will come in on Monday."

"Monday it is." And so, still humming, laptop case under one arm and projector under the other, I proceeded upstairs. I know not whether the Dark Lord got his cameras back on time, but he looked sane on Monday.

However, I had a tendency to be insane.

Point 1: Lord Bedivere would be the quizmaster. However, we could not get the actual text of the questions to him sufficiently ahead of time. I sent him the PDFs for History, Geography, Miscellaneous and Music that I had made earlier, but as for the rest, I had to do a massive printout of the master PowerPoint copy. On pink paper from the lab (I had donated to the lab my father's erroneous purchase of a pack of legal-sized pink paper, and had spent a happy hour chopping them to letter size on the secretary's paper cutter. They now went. The Sports round I printed just that lunch.) He was now leafing through the pink paper bundle after I explained to him the order the rounds should go in.

Point 2: It took the AVA forever to focus the InFocus so the screen actually looked presentable. Then the AVA captain would be manning the InFocus remote. More on that later; there is a reason why the AVA captain does not get a name in this blog. On the other side, Galois got settled with the PC, and proposed a brilliant idea: on a second spreadsheet, keep a tally of what percent of the teams got each of the questions. I agreed, if that was not too difficult.

Point 3: Lord Bedivere is partially deaf, so he requested a clock with a loud timer for when we should switch to the next question. It finally worked out that Roland would be manning the timer while I man the laptop, but I leave it to the gentle reader to imagine the tangle of sorting out who was doing what.

Point 4: I discovered that my brief music clip for the acknowledging slide show was too brief, so I decided to change the music. Feeling impish, I tested the speakers with "Cruel Angel's Thesis." The AVA objected, saying it sounded too much like Chinese music: I shot back that it was Japanese. However, feeling that they were concrete objections, I searched for the Internet. The laptop being wireless does not mean that it gets Internet everywhere; another thing I learned that day.

Finally I had Lady Mollweide let me into an empty math classroom to try to get some Internet. At first confused, I examined the back of the computer, lost and filing a request that the teacher advisor for the AVA please assist. Then I saw the socket saying Ethernet, the cable leading to it, unplugged the cable, and stuck it into the iBook, delighted at my own sagacity. From my email I downloaded "Pop Corn" and "Ride of the Valkyries," and proceeded in triumph back to the auditorium. "Pop Corn" was voted unanimously as the music of choice.

Point 6: I was almost sitting pretty. The Improv Team came on, and hilariously played Party Quirks (particularly memorable was their portrayal of softwood lumber: "Feel me, I'm soft.") Then Kilhuch came up to me and said quietly, "The marking team needs the answers to the questions."

Merciful heavens! What ended up happening was that we borrowed Lord Bedivere's pink pack, and Lady Mollweide and I rushed frantically to the office photocopier, photocopying that answer slides in order of priority, and then returning the round text as soon as they were photocopied.

The game began. Launch EVA!!!

Point 7: The idiot AVA captain turned the InFocus on just as I was logging in, letting the entire audience see my brother's login page. I hate that; it made me feel exposed. Also making me feel like everyone saw my underwear was at the end of the round, when it returned to the Keynote page, and I was frantically hissing at the AVA captain, "Mute it, mute it!" "Ok," I said as soon as it was muted. "The show is on Play, each show has ten slides. As soon as question 10 comes on, be ready to mute. Now."

Point 8: Lord Bedivere's deafness did not allow me to hear my frantic requests from the audience to repeat the question he was reading (background music was abandoned very soon, me muting the iBook until the Music round, when I had to work out the loudness levels for a few seconds). He also was completely unsynchronised with the build animations, often finishing reading the question before its text came on. One question text I had changed from PowerPoint to Keynote, causing great flustering. That one was mea culpa, but as for the others...I hate saying this, since Lord Bedivere did so much for the club he deserved the privilege, but I did find myself growling under my breath: "And whose bright idea was this?"

Point 9: Isn't the whole idea of getting the questions ahead of time that you find the words that you do not know how to pronounce, and then head to me to ask how to pronounce them? No, no, Lord Bedivere did not even think of asking me ahead of time, and mangled pronunciations to make me wince - or even relegated a few to me, making me wince further at this unprofessionalism.

Point 10: My computer was slow. Very slow. I was begging for clear communication such that they play door prizes between each round, giving me time to boot up the new file. Ouch.

Well, Literature was the throwaway first horrible round. Science, the next one, actually went without a glitch, which was a welcome relief. Lord Bedivere and I finally established a sort-of line of communication, and Roland was working smoothly too.

Then came History.

The first slide same on in twirling "Camera" animation, stayed for about three seconds - and then the computer faded into sleep mode, right with the screen showing everyone this.

I frantically pressed the button to reanimate the computer, achieving this after a few seconds. But after three seconds it faded again. And continued doing this throughout the round.

If anyone is wondering what it is like to have apoplexy, ask me, I know. Despite all the things that have gone before, this is the only occasion of my life so far on which within the boundaries of the school I said out loud that brief emphatic word that grammar accepts as a verb, noun, or English's only infix, but the school's Internet filter does not accept in any form. In the auditorium, beside the stage, before seventeen teams from the community, but only Roland being able to overhear, and he knows that word anyway.

The round finally ended, and my shoulders collapsed.

"You know," Roland, considerate Roland, repaid me for once upon a time fixing his insecurities by now fixing mine, "it is probably happening because the computer cannot handle the slide transitions."

He hit the nail on the head; I do not think I am allowed to say I love the students I coach, but he has a name in this blog and may it endure forever. I started using all the time available to me to replace all slide transitions in all the rounds to the ones that worked during the seamless Science round. Thank goodness, I finally figured out that you can highlight all the slides when working in Inspector. During the intermission, I figured I could quietly do all of the transitions and set my heart at ease.

During the intermission it did not happen. One of the last minute Bronze sponsors came up to Lady Mollweide and me and started complaining that the acknowledgement slide show was not playing, as was promised to them to play between rounds and during the intermission, which is contrary to advertising.

Well, first of all, mister, you are both our bronze sponsor and Roland's family, and Roland has just saved mine petite arsé, so I do not say this out loud to you: but you haven't a leg to stand on. As a bronze sponsor, you're not even supposed to be in the acknowledging slide show; I put you in as courtesy. And besides, between the rounds is my boot-up-the-file time. If you want the slide show to play during those, then you will need to wait even longer between rounds; or, to put it briefly, what you ask for is absolutely impossible, and I did not violate your contract, but because despite my tense shoulders killing me and all that fun stuff I am still angelically nice, I will put the slide show on and redo the transitions so you can read your questions later. Somebody give me a halo.

I put the slide show on and went to say hi to a few of the participants, including the Plush Toy of Darkness team. The captain of the Plush Toys had coached the school Reach team when I was in grade 10, and he and his wife were Provincials chaperones then, so I knew him from there and later from competing against Plush Toy incarnations at VETO and similar QuizBowl unofficial events. One of his Plush Toy gang members congratulated me on using Keynote; it looked very well indeed, he said. I, still scarred from the interesting transitions failing me, sighed in gratitude; this was the one sentence that sort of made my months of work and insanity worth it. I told him breifly of Keynote's trouble handling huge files; he said he never had a problem with that. "Ah," quoth I, "but were your slide shows 145 slides long? With animations in every one?"

The intermission ended and so we returned to the rounds.

Roland had to be absent for a few of the rounds; Rustem replaced him. Thus Roland did not see the slide shows I most wanted him to see: the Music question and answer rounds. For one thing, it had my editing of Eminem for the question,

Now this looks like a job for me
So everybody just follow me
'Cause we need a little controversy
'Cause it feels so empty without me.
Little hellions [it passed!]
Kids feeling rebellious
Embarrassed their parents still listen to Elvis
They start feeling like prisoners helpless
Till someone comes along on a mission and yells [elegant splice]
A visionary, vision is scary,
Could start a revolution, ruling the airwaves,
A rebel [even more elegant splice]
The center of attention, back for the winter
I'm interesting, the best thing since wrestling
Investing in your kid's ears a nest egg
Testing, attention please
Feel the tension, soon as someone mentions me
Here's my ten cents, my two cents is free
A nuisance, who sent? You sent for me?


I kept on all that; there is an advantage to being the person with the mouse button, and one thing many in the audience complained about afterwards was that most questions gave you little time to answer.

And when the answer slide came up with "Eminem" as the answer, I played

Guess he's back,
Back again,
Shady's back,
Tell a friend.
Guess he's back, guess he's back, guess he's back...


And another, indeed my favourite part of the whole show, was the question, "Which ABBA song did Madonna sample for her hit single 'Hung Up'?" I put in a bit of 'Hung Up' with the actual riffs she had sampled, and then for the answer, I put in

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight,
Help me chase my sorrows to the break of the day,


followed by those same riffs, and I heard people in the audience going "Oh yeah..." Yes! My sound-engineering skills!

The game finally ended. I put up the slide acknowledging question authors, but in the mess, no one seemed to be paying much attention to it. I did get, down the grapevine, comments that the slides were very nice indeed. Yes!

Then there was a problem: there seemed to be a tie for first place between the Plush Toys of Darkness and the Fighting Mongooses (the U of O team, with Steinbeck, Keira and two of their friends). I was just about ready to run back to the math classroom, steal some Ethernet again now that I knew the way, and download some tiebreaker questions...when it was found the Fighting Mongooses had been marked wrong on a science question where they were perfectly right. So they won. That casts suspicion on them being my teammates, but on the other hand, I do not go to Division I Nationals with any group less than the best.

There was also a quick challenge on the Isoroku Yamamoto question; I should have checked my facts. We ruled that the Philippines, Bougainville and Guadalcanal were all acceptable answers, as the contesters said Yamamoto was shot down at sea (he was found in the jungle, at, I believe, Bougainville, my sources tell me later. Henderson Field and his launch point were at Guadalcanal.)

I caught up with Roland. He did not get a chance to see the Music show; I promised him the QuickTimes.

"So have I gotten you hooked on Eminem, now? I should introduce you to others. NWA, Offspring..."

"Offspring?" I laughed. "Offspring was popular when I was in grade seven."

I never quite understood the lyrics to "Pretty Fly for a White Guy," then, and now that I do, I am amazed they let us play that at school dances and the grad dance, bouncing on the boat with the awful food:

Uno dos tres cuatro cinco cinco seís
You know its kinda hard just to get along today
Our subject isn't cool, but he thinks it anyway
He may not have a clue, and he may not have style
But everything he lacks, well he makes up in denial
So don't deflate, play it straight
You know he really doesn't get it anyway

Gonna play the field, keep it real
For you know a way, for you know a way
So if you don't break, just over compensate


Now that I know them, I like Weird Al's "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" better.

But I still needed to return the InFocus. However, instead of going to Lady Mollweide, I managed to get the Vice-Principal (who had played on a team that got sixth place) to take me down to the basement lab, and there I carefully deposited the InFocus projector (I did not wind the wires as neatly as had been my trademark back in robotics, though), laid the plugs alongside it without attemtping to sort out the sockets, and left.

It is done!
It is done!
It is done!

I still have a problem: in his welcoming speech, Lord Bedivere said "Welcome to the first annual School Trivia Night."

Maybe I was right to put up those "Pretty Fly" lyrics.
I seem to have difficulty writing about Reach tournaments I coached. Readers may wonder why, since trivia seems to be my one outward glory, do I not brag about it a little more. I do not know the answer to that; modesty is not it, though, since, as you may have noticed, I do give play-by-plays of the tournaments I play in (well, how can someone like me resist bragging that she knows about Tokhtamysh, Life of Pi, and the zeroes of the Riemann zeta function? However, I have a hard time writing about the Regional championship.

I will recount but one event: one is that I took one of the students to the Nepean Sportsplex to pick up some junk food. Two girls ahead of us, from other Reach teams, were confronted with the vendor saying he would only sell food with a chaperone, as prior teenagers had made messes.

I step in smoothly. "I'm a chaperone."

He looked at me from under his eyebrows. "You sure?"

"Yep, I'm twenty, I can show you ID if you like," I flashed a smile.

I think my complete self-assurance, the one Athaira especially sometimes comments on,
put him off; he let the student and me make our purchase without actually requesting ID.

What else should I tell? Oh, we won, by the way. Our school is the Reach champion of the national capital, yet again. Our only loss was a nasty 350-340 versus "Graham High School" (whom I highly dislike; they mocked Aizen-Miyoo). The Grahams are going to the Provincials, along with us and runner-ups Worcestershire High School (where the Lord of Reach is from). We like the Worcestershires and look forward to a good tournament.

But although making it to provincials is a great salve to our honour, and the gold-plated trophy a greater one still (at the beginning of the tournament, I show the students the trophy, point to the 2001 plate with our school's name and go: "Me!" Then point to the 2004 plate and go: "Coach: Me!" And then after we won it, the graduating students on the team joked about how next year they will visit the trophy in the showcase, and always point to the 2006 plate and say, again, "Me!") it still means money.

Which is why on Saturday at 9 a.m. I was in the lab at the university, quietly figuring out the idea of animations in PowerPoint. Now, since I had never dealt with PowerPoint before in my life (during the Lord of the Rings festival thing, I learned that you stop a slide show by hitting Esc; that was the limit of my knowledge), my mastering it in a few hours is indeed an interesting line in my resume.

The Language Acquisition Lab has several distinct advantages over the dungeon Mac lab at school:
a) I can come and go as I please; I have the key!
b) I can eat at my desk if I so desire
c) The window view is, though not the best view on campus, vastly superior to the window view from the school Mac lab, which view is absent due to the small factor of the absence of windows (we are in a dungeon, remember?)

But, I must admit, I did miss the Mac lab.

And I particularly missed Keynote's QuickTime exporting capability. At one point, I experimented with transferring a show to our fishbowl iMac, which has MS PowerPoint for the Mac OS, and tried exporting it there. But the results were frightening, and I abandoned the idea. Instead, I resolved, on Monday I will return, my meek, penitent, prodigal and imperious self, to the iMac I have grown to love, and export and burn the DVD there (and if everything is wrong, well, there were the PowerPoints; I had knelt to ensure this possibility), and all will be well and happy with the world.

Fat chance.

But I get ahead of myself. I did not spend the whole day before the PC; Psycholinguistic Shorts was also happening, and whenever I could (or at least for the coffee breaks) I would sneak off to there.

They were liberal with their coffee-break treats, providing cookies and Timbits and coffee and oolong tea (ah!) and other fun things. I was quite intrigued by a display that looked a little like a Passover plate, but sharing none of the actual elements except for the egg (besides, I may be, as Tsvi joked, a bad Jewish girl, but I know roughly when Passover falls and it is not on the last week of March, not in 2006). A linguist explained that it is the symbols of the Iranian new year. I now cannot remember all of them, except for the live little goldfish and the egg, and, if I recall correctly, the candle. But it was neat.

I watched a few of the presentations; and I asked questions. If the gentle reader has not yet noticed, I have an annoying habit of asking questions. I may be a simple little undergrad, but, brace yourselves, once Tourmaline raises her hand...

As Amico and her teammates found out when they made the presentation on Leo and Simon's verb use. At the end of it, hehe, Tourmaline raises her hand and asks whether the suffix dropping cannot be accounted for by simple phonological assimilation.

Amico's teammate Albina looked a little startled. "Well, we could not calculate all of the phonological factors, as you should know, you transcribed the stuff, you heard their phonology..."

I giggled like a schoolgirl (which I am) on the sofa.

As soon as the team headed back to their seats, Albina made a cut-the-throat motion towards me and hissed, "Darn you, Tourmaline, the exact same question was asked at the first conference we presented this at!"

I was myself startled at this information. "I didn't know that. It just seems...logical to wonder about, from the examples you give."

"So you didn't know about our previous conference, where someone asked us the same question?" another teammate joined in a playful desire to gut me.

"No, not at all."

During coffee breaks I got conversing with Prof. Jensen and with Neil, the TA for Sociolinguistics (Neil is his real name). We discussed various typing and coding programs: a PhD student complained that she wished she could actually see the codes in Word! "LaTeX," I replied, "LaTeX." I told them of my information theory paper for His de Maths, and they all laughed at me quoting Gerard van Herk: "You can be efficient, or you can be clear. Or you can be cool." Neil mentioned that his master's thesis was on the use of complexity theory in linguistics: apparently it dictates that if there are two words in the language that mean the same thing, they will find different niches so that gradually one would be used in one context and one in another; I cited evidence from Russian borrowing to agree with his point; there was so much data I wanted to include in my paper!

Then I returned to la plage de St.Tropez, that cool spring day I need you there... but I do not have you, so I went at it alone. By 9 p.m it was done: I had the animated slide shows, and so no matter what happens, we will have something to show at the trivia night. I went home in stark relief that I actually had nothing to do on Sunday. Other than my two assignments due Monday, my Syntax presentation on Wednesday, and my His de Maths presentation on Thursday. Of course.

But on Monday I did have something to do.

After a Dark Hunt that grows more efficient each time I do it, I located the Dark Lord in the math help room. Since, as the astute reader has noticed, Lady Cauchy knows and loves me, and I myself used to be a fixture in the math help room, long ago, before the world turned inside out, I proceeded straight to bandy words with my former tutorees on probability and statistics (which, the gentle reader will remember, I know nothing about.)

They were discussing the drawing of hands in poker and I tried to recall those wonderful words of choose and nCr and other probabilistic things (which I know nothing about.)

"How hard would the test be?" one of the girls asked the Dark Lord.

"I don't know," the Dark Lord grinned. "There are three versions: the easy test, the hard test, and the really hard test. Which one do I pick? It depends on what I feel like tomorrow. Sucks to be you."

"Pick the easy test, please!"

From my awaiting fifth position by the radiator, I remembered an argument over our Ferrari-Full-of-Geishas reunion dinner, and grinned to myself.

"You'll have to see what I feel like tomorrow," said the Dark Lord. "I shall have to leave you here; I also need to give Tourmaline what she wants."

"What are you doing here?" the girls asked me.

Both the Dark Lord and I avoided the question, although the Dark Lord did inquire of me whether I would take long.

"No, I only need to export the shows to QuickTime. Then tomorrow I will burn the DVD of them, and all should be fine."

Among the things that I did that evening was to take the four shows I already had the sponsors inserted into, and export them to PDF. Then I emailed them to Lady Mollweide, with a note that these were the first four rounds, any problems, etc.

The QuickTimes of them I saved on my key. I only had the patience to do four question rounds and four answer rounds, because changing the transitions back from PowerPoint to Keynote still took a long time. The rest will happen tomorrow, since the captain of the AVA had interrupted my Reach practice to ask when he will be able to practice with the slide show. I promised him I will have it for him by Wednesday.

I do not recall what problem I had asked the Dark Lord to solve. I only recall that when I realised he will not be able to solve it for me, I said, "I'm glad you are restraining yourself from saying 'It sucks to be you.'...But I did say I will get them the DVD by Wednesday."

"Alright then, I'll say it. It sucks to be you."

It never sucks to be Tourmaline the adult. To be Tourmaline the child sucked mightily: it was trying to find the way amid a people of strange tongue, in a world of indescribable loneliness. To be Tourmaline the adolescent sucked mightily: it was crazy in love and dying every minute, it was devastation and tragedy over each of the thousand and forty stupid mistakes that Barbara Hambly claimed each Jedi student must make (to think that there is a list is mistake number four). But being Tourmaline the adult does not suck; after all, I cannot even remember now what the problem was that inspired this exchange, so obviously we fixed it. Though I may not be able to afford all the things I want, though my brother leaves blog posts nagging me to find time for aikido, though I may not be able to do an obertas turn, though my love life currently be, in Carrie Bradshaw's words, "______ and the City": I come through. It does not suck to be me.

"Oh, Dark Lord," I asked, "tomorrow, should I bring you chocolate or should I bring a blank DVD?"

He considered the prospect. "No, just bring chocolate, it's fine."

However, when I woke the next morning, there was a message from the Lady Mollweide who had looked at the PDF's:

Lady Mollweide to Tourmaline, March 28, 12:19 AM:

I've been having intermittent problems with gmail this evening so have only just taken a look and the text seems very variable - positioning etc. I now have to track down my husband to take a look and see what he thinks. That may run into the morning...


That bloody positioning and fonts were my Achilles heel!

Tourmaline to Lady Mollweide, March 28 8:29 AM:
As for the PDF's - I hope you are not talking about the body text of the questions, because that was meant to be sometimes on the left with respect to the pictures, sometimes on the right, etc. A hundred and seventy-six slides with text right in the middle will grow dead boring. Now as to the titles, I admit, yes, it is a little difficult to always get them consistent. Sometimes the computer will allow me to copy-and-paste the title right in the same place...but sometimes it does not.

I did not elaborate on the difficulties I have had making this show. I did not point out to you, so no one knows but the Dark Lord and me, as to how the Apple program, although beautiful, refuses to save when you break up a show into parts, and refuses to open once the show gets big enough; as to how I had to do the "Everything Else" round several times over again from scratch because of this information loss; as to how I gave up and abandoned the Mac completely to switch to PowerPoint; as to how carrying out the switch took me from 9 a.m to 9 p.m on a Saturday; as to how I worked on Monday from when I left you to 9 in the evening converting the four rounds back again, because that way they still look better; as to how compiling each round to the QuickTime format takes at least half an hour of just the computer chugging and me furstrated out of my mind and thinking also of the huge History of Mathematics presentation I have to do on Wednesday, which is only a quarter done and which I am going to work on tonight while the iMac chugs away again... Yes, I will correct the texts in the Geography, History, Miscellaneous and Science sections - as well as doing the other four rounds. This will add three hours to my stay in the lab, not counting the forever-and-a-day it takes to burn the DVD. I will do it, but I hope you understand that my first reaction when I sent over a hundred hours of work and the first comment I got back was on the one weakness it cost me about twenty of those hours to work around - I said words that the school network blocks on web sites.


As the astute reader may remember (or I may not have specified), 8:30 AM is when Concolor and I are supposed to start work on Tuesdays. So I arrived late, growling under my breath, and I told Concolor the whole story. I did not quite do the proverbial weeping on his jacket, but I clearly voiced my frustrations.

I showed the QuickTimes to him. As we watched, I noticed where titles shifted here, fonts were inconsistent there...

"I don't see it," he said. "I mean, I don't notice it at all, and I am not under stress. The people there will be under stress, they won't see it. Trust me, it looks really good."

I looked at him archly. "Are you saying that because it is really good or only because you love me?"

He laughed. I did make two requests of him; one was to get the song "American Pie" and before four o'clock that day, since I planned to burn the DVD by then; the other was to get me some transparencies for my Syntax and His de Maths presentations. However, between Reach practice and His de Maths, I procured the transparencies myself; perhaps it was not the most economical method to get it at the Grand and Toy, but it was the most convenient. I was now the proud owner of fifty laser-printer transparencies - have fun!

And I was a lot more cheerful when I went to the Mac lab again.

"I will need two computers," I said. "Just so I can work on one while the other is compiling." I chuckled, "I know, give Tourmaline a computer and she will ask for two..."

"No, it's fine," said the Dark Lord. "I assume you will take the computer next to the one you are using?"

"Yes, of course," I laughed, and presented him with Lindt dark chocolates. "In exchange for a couple of DVDs."

"You didn't have to do that, you know," the Dark Lord tried his usual spiel, and as usual, indeed more than usual, in vain (hey, we had already arranged the trade exchange!) . I think he has accepted that it is in vain, and simply passed me two DVDs - "I think two would be enough." While I took care of my own logins and all that fun stuff, I, still trying to burn off the last of my hurt that morning, told him the story of how Lady Mollweide got me very angry indeed over underappreciating the amount of work I had put into the slide shows.

"I showed them to Concolor at work and they looked fine..."

"I won't get into it," the Dark Lord replied, "I won't get into it."

Now in retrospect, his reaction was incredibly predictable. Such behaviour as I tell of is far more often seen in another situation. However, my temper flared inside: Concolor and I are just friends! This is not a lovers' squabble or agreement, this is not ...

Are you saying this because it is really good or just because you love me?

Concolor, if you love me, I am sorry: you have a name in the blog, and I am perfectly satisfied with the way things are. But such is my fate as a young woman who can smile that I can never, ever be sure that I will get an honest answer to the above question.

But I said nothing of this to the Dark Lord; I was reminded of the several times in our junior high school when I would cross the courtyard and overhear grade sevens and grade eights point me out: "That's Concolor's girlfriend." I hadn't been; I had desperately wanted to be, even without appreciating at the time that being the girlfriend of someone on the AAA volleyball team, that junior high school's one pride, would give me power I had never had in that great dancing game of adolescent popularity dynamics. Now I appreciated it, and so I kept quiet. I sometimes joke I was born to be an expensive mistress, and being thought of as some man's mistress does have its occasional advantages. I cannot stop the Dark Lord thinking what he wants of me, no more than I can stop many of the rest of the school's population from thinking what they want of me and the Dark Lord.

I turned on the two computers, and "Don't Stop Me Now" as well; quietly, because the Dark Lord was in the outer lab helping a student study. I had known her back from my Acta days, when I was the grade 12 editor and she was in grade 9; I will give her a name: Olivia.

I set up two computers chugging away, and myself danced a little, then eavesdropped on the Dark Lord's conversation.

"I can't do this!" Olivia complained.

"That is why you study and ask for help," said the Dark Lord.

"I do study, and I do come for help. I am studying constantly, every day, and all the weekend - and I am still bad at this."

I leaned against the doorpost, smiling.

"Don't study all the time," said the Dark Lord. "On Friday nights, go out and watch a movie. Studying then does not help anyone. Go out. Watch a movie."

"Sage advice," I remarked. "Speaking of which sage advice, have you seen V for Vendetta yet?"

"No."

"Hmph!" said the alleged mistress of someone she had seen said movie with (it was such a romantic time; unfortunately they had to drag the rest of the Language Acquisition Lab along.) "By the way," she added, "which test did you go with for those people: the easy one, the hard one, or the very hard one?"

"Oh there was no easy one nor hard one; there was only the very hard one. I gave them the whole nine yards. By the way, so many people wonder about the expression 'the whole nine yards.' Shouldn't it be ten yards, they say, because they think it is about football, right?"

I know nothing about football - absolutely nothing - but I know and love an awful lot about historical linguistics, which the history of various sayings and expressions kind of touches, and so I pricked up my ears.

"It is not about football," the Dark Lord continued. "It comes because in the war, when they had the first machine guns, they were fed by belts of cartridges, right? And the belts were nine yards long. So if you wanted to really blast at an enemy, you would say, 'Give 'em the whole nine yards,' meaning that you blast all the bullets you've got at them. So I say it is not about football, it's about war. So that's what I tell to my students: give 'em the whole nine yards."

I raised my eyebrows. "Clever. Did anyone tell you, by the way, that you look like Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto?"

He neither showed complete bewilderment nor instant recognition. "No."

"You do," I grinned, "quite a bit."

The Dark Lord offered Olivia chocolate all around; I took some too, joking, "Isn't there the rule about no food or drink allowed in the computer labs?"

The Dark Lord shrugged it off.

I returned to my little computers chugging away to the annoyingly excruciatingly difficult intervals of Freddie Mercury, and got back to accepting the things I could not change, fixing the things I can, and judging the difference.

Don't stop me now ('cause I'm having a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes, I'm having a good time)
I don't want to stop at all


Olivia must have left, as the Dark Lord came back to the inner lab to work on something on his laptop.

"When I said you look like Isoroku Yamamoto, you did know of who I meant, yes?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Good. Are you extremely punctual?"

"Yes, I think so."

To myself, I quietly disagreed, here and there, but then who am I to complain? He had many, many opportunities to not be punctual in the almost-five years I have known him; he only took a few of them.

"Isoroku Yamamoto, the man who died because he was extremely punctual..." I mused.

The Dark Lord grinned. "They shot him down because he was flying in one of those Betty bombers," he became suddenly animated; from many many post-trivia-game storytelling sessions, I know the feeling. "They called them Betty bombers because they were easy to shoot down, right? Because when you hit the fuel tank, the whole thing would go up in flames. So they shot at one of those and they hit the fuel tank and he went down."

Smiling to myself, a few minutes later as the QuickTimes compiled, I pulled out my copy of David Kahn's The Codebreakers (I had it along with me in order to be able to use the DVD-burning time to catch up on my information theory project; Kahn has what is still one of the best explanations of information theory I have ever read, the reason I am what I am today) and checked the story of Yamamoto's death. "You're right," I announced to the Dark Lord. "You're right."

"I was better at history than I was at math, you know," he reminded me.

"Yes, you told me that," I said, remembering with fondness a talk we once had just before my birthday and just after a Calc 2 exam. "But teaching math is a lot easier than teaching history, you told me."

"Oh yes. Can't you think of me as a history teacher?"

"I do not think anything of you, Dark Lord." I replied, facetious and firm.

He looked startled at this; perhaps it did not come out the way I intended. What I meant was that many, many times I have made some assumption about him, only to gain a piece of data that made the assumption crumble into falsehood. So I try to no longer make assumptions or care, but enjoy things the way they are. It does not matter at all to me what he does during the hours I do not see him, except as a conversation starter and making sure that he is not hurt. He has his life, and I have mine, and learning that other people have their own lives to live and you cannot try to change theirs has made mine a lot happier and not sucking to be me at all.

Finally, the Dark Lord prepared to leave, leaving me the bag of chocolates, "in case you want any more."

Maybe I should have asked for advice then. But teaching myself so much in those long weeks had given me the impression that I could figure out by myself anything in that Mac OS 10 interface, so I simply said goodbye, resolving that I will not resort to the chocolates except as a matter of last resort in the result. The Dark Lord left, to head with his usual punctuality to other places and other roles I do not make assumptions about.

All of the QuickTimes were compiled to my satisfaction, if I recall correctly. I slid the DVD into the iMac, and opened up the iDVD program, created a new iDVD file, and dragged the first QuickTime to the box saying "Drag file here."

The computer turned orange.

Well, it did not turn orange. The entire screen turned an orange-yellow-brown burnt-sienna colour, except for a very narrow line at the bottom of the screen that showed the old desktop colours (turquoise with swirls; I know not if those are the iMac's default wallpaper settings or if the Dark Lord or other system administrator put them in, but suspect the former). Around the screen the cursor wandered, but clicking it, with or without the Ctrl button depressed, had no effect whatsoever.

The beloved Alt-Apple-Esc sequence that does such wonders when our dear fishbowl iMac refuses to cooperate had no effect whatsoever.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. Come and see Tourmaline Hessanite Variety, the first person in school and university history to test Keynote 3 to destruction and drive an iMac G4 insane.

I got up and paced, and ate a chocolate ("Praise be to you, o Dark Lord, and I love you!"). I waited.

I clicked on the On button on the iMac. The screen went dark. I clicked again. The screen went burnt sienna.

I shall not repeat how many times I repeated all of the above attempts (including the eating of chocolates). I thought of how my cranky little PC would do that sometimes, and what I would do then.

On the other iMac, I began composing an email to the Dark Lord, beginning with that riveting opening sentence:

Dark Lord,

The computer is orange.

Then I abandoned the email. For one thing, I was still (and am still) very very nervous about such an incursion of the Dark Lord's sacred privacy (it really is not sacred; that is for normal things; there should be another word beyond sacred, but I know of none in English; пресвятейшая, no, пресвятейшейшая was the only word to describe the way this concept has been hard instilled in me, enough to require a language with layered intensifying derivational affixes). For another, there was another remedy.

I wrote to him instead, as usual, explaining my predicament, the way it came to be, and the steps I had taken to attempt to solve it.

And then I ate a chocolate, crossed myself, and pulled the iMac's plug.

The screen went dark.

I counted three heartbeats and plugged it in again, then pressed the On button. And there came my beloved iMac desktop, as if I had never left it (almost; Keynote and iDVD were not on, of course), as if it had never been so very naughty.

But it was seven p.m, and, believe me, I was definitely not in the mood for any more experimenting with DVDs.

I completed the Dark Lord's letter, writing in abject apology as to how I pulled the plug on a computer. Then I saved all of my QuickTimes on my USB key (they just barely fit) and added that I will take the DVDs home to see just in case I could burn them there.

(I did leave the Dark Lord most of the chocolate.)

Well, Society Max prepared to burn DVDs. But then he took a very long time about the preparing part, and then preferred to watch a bit of dubbed Apocalypse Now Redux instead. And then my older brother came home, and then at 11 o'clock we all made the rash decision...to watch Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The Goblin translation, that is, The Bros and the Ring (when Arwen chants the spell to raise the waters of the Ford of Bruinen, she isn't chanting some random Quenya blabber; she is saying very clearly, approximately,

Blessed be sweet-smelling soap
And warm fluffy towels
Let's all wash and splash
And be clean and nice
(from a Russian children's poem about a boy who is taught the virtues of cleanliness)


which I consider a much more effective spell for washing up some Nazgul...)

In any case, the gentle reader may surmise that I finally approached my older brother about the DVD problem at around 1 a.m.

He considered the problem one way, considered it another way, then said, "Heck, why don't I just lend you a laptop and have you project the straight Keynote files from there?"

Blessed be sweet-smelling soap
And problems' simple solutions
And blessed be friends who have laptops
And who love me. And blessed be sleep.


(To Be Continued:

Wednesday - Syntax presentation, hopefully I will not be here for very long, God's in his heaven and all is well with the world but watch the skies for news of me.

Thursday - Mac OS Ghostwheel, my Info Thry talk and the entropy game, seeking the AVA and testing the laptop with office admin, I forget to return the auditorium keys, I will see you at 3, emailing does not work.)
The week before me writing this has been a very very trying week.

On Monday I came back to the school to work on the slideshow, and finally learned enough to go straight to the downstairs lab to seek the Dark Lord.

He was sitting at his desk without his glasses as I came in, and he regarded me with eyes to which I was probably a blur (I have the feeling I learned once that he is myopic). I have only ever seen him without his glasses at times when he and I were both very tired, so the sight of his face without them must always trigger the protective instinct in me. So a few seconds after I entered the Mac lab, I asked, "Is everything all right?"

Not that I expected him to admit that anything was not; I suppose my motivations were just to convey that I do occasionally care. In exchange for getting the iMac.

As he opened the Mac lab door for me, I ask, "So, have you seen V for Vendetta yet?"

"No, not yet."

What sort of evil powers were keeping the Dark Lord, the man who saw The Matrix Reloaded at the 12:01 a.m screening, from watching a Wachowski brothers' movie on his March Break? "You'll like it."

"Did you see it?"

"Yeah, Concolor and I saw it on Saturday." Somehow the imp that lives behind my tongue did not mention that nearly the entire Language Acquisition Lab accompanied us.

"Concolor? And how is he?"

"Being a gentleman who would pay for concessions," said I. "Do you want some chocolate?"

"Maybe later. How long do you think it will take you to finish this?"

"Maybe another four or five hours, barring any accidents."

"Nothing can go wrong with a Macintosh," the Dark Lord said confidently.

"You need to meet the iMac at work then," I laughed.

"It goes wrong?"

"Yeah, it's one of the fishbowl ones. But I think this show is beginning to look really good. Knock wood." I looked around for wood. "Knock wood laminate substitute." I knocked the table.

"Yeah, it is looking really good," the Dark Lord agreed.

Oh gods above, why were the evil ones among you listening?

The Dark Lord left, promising that he would be back, and I worked on. After a while, I needed to go to the washroom. Realising that, given my luck, the Dark Lord would return exactly on time to see the lab empty, I carefully closed the door of the inner lab. So carefully, indeed, that I heard the lock click, and realised that what I had done was lock myself out.

To prevent this, I carefully put a doorstop against the outer door. And returned from the washroom to find that guess what? The door had slipped over the doorstop, and now I had no choice but to seek the Dark Lord.

As I entered the main building, a sinewy arm in a rolled-up blue sleeve held open the door for me.

"Oh, there you are! I have locked myself out of the lab."

"That's ok."

"I mean, I knew that if I left the door open, that would be the precise minute when the Dark Lord comes back and sees the lab abandoned..."

"That's ok, I know that you would only be gone for a short while."

High, high opinions, I thought to myself as I got back into my seat. The Dark Lord puttered about the lab, out of the corner of my eyes looking like I imagine wizards to move about their laboratories, only I do not picture wizards' labs to be as austere as the Mac lab. "It arrived," he said cheerfully, picking up a round box the size and shape of a film reel.

"What did?"

The box contained a slim book and some other objects. "It's the kit The Director in the Classroom. So I can teach my students how to make movies."

"Ooh, where did you get it, and can I have some?"

"I ordered it."

"Did you expense it?" As I said when Consuelo picked up the tab for our entire dinner at the Elephant and Castle, one of my fondest wishes is to be rich enough to expense my meals.

"No, that takes too much paperwork. I hate paperwork."

"I hear you." He had taught me that expression. "I hear you."

As the Dark Lord finally put on his coat to leave, I repeated my offer of chocolate.

"No, not now."

"Is the place where you are going likely to have chocolate?" I challenged.

"Yes, I think so."

He left me behind, and at around 7 the catastrophe came.

First I put some new animations in, but then Build Inspector refused to let me change their order or change them from On Click to Automatically, those fields in it remaining mute and unresponsive. Growing frustrated, I moved back to a slide where I knew I had changed the builds before, only to find it not working there too. Desperate, I closed the file and went to open it again.

And up came the worst possible message you can imagine without someone being dead, sick or injured.

Keynote cannot open the file triivia night.key.

"Why?!" I screamed at the flat screen. "For the love of all the gods there are, tell me why?"

In my History of Mathematics presentation, I make the argument that computers are still a long way from understanding human language. The Apple iMac G5 with iWorks 2006 is a case in point.

I went to pull the unresponsive file to my memory key, and was relieved to see the blue bar "Saving..." grow. At least it was not "Keynote cannot save the file triivia night.key because it is damaged," another memory error I am familiar with. Well, there was the memory key, and if worst comes to worst, there was the backup CD I burned two weeks ago. Well, one of those weeks was March Break and another was truncated because of that stupid emergency and the Dark Lord's meeting. So there was not that much work to be made up.

It is an interesting observation that all through that long trivia night slideshow saga, I never felt despair. I felt frustrated, yes; I felt stressed out, yes; I felt angry at technology and the people around me, yes; but I never felt that it was not going to work out. I felt that, given only a titanic effort on my part, it will all work out fine. The good will end happily, and the bad unhappily. That's what fiction means.

And it did take a titanic effort.

The next morning I dropped by the school before work to write a note to the Dark Lord telling of my plight and telling him I will be back on Wednesday. Tuesday was out of the question, because on Wednesday was the English Syntax (which has no exam) final test, and I meant to study for it. After filling another sheet of foolscap with writing, I headed off to the lab where Concolor must be waiting, humming under my breath Kipling's

Where my lover calls I go,
Shame it were to treat him coldly.
'Twas a fish that rippled so
Turning over boldly.


And having no idea who I meant.

I entered a darkened lab, with the lights off, and it took me a moment to scan the quiescent computers, the bag on the floor, the Concolor sprawled on the floor catching up on a sleep deficit... I laughed and we slowly got to work, confirming that the His de Math assignment was indeed due on Thursday.

I came back to the lab after Reach practice, having nowhere else in particular to go. Concolor greeted me.

"I have done all of the questions except the fourth one, and it's the last one so it must be the hardest."

"Let's see?" It was on Q's polynomial division ring, and its imposed order. I fell to thinking, almost literally although not so rapidly, as I lay down on the floor, feeling myself almost as strong a sleep deficit as Concolor's, and pondered out loud. "So assuming x is less than y, without loss of generality..."

Concolor lay down about a foot away from me. "The fact the you can divide by polynomials within it must be important..."

The key clicked in the lock and we both sprang up and got into chairs, I at least thinking that even the Language Acquisition Lab would find it odd to see us two lying on the floor together...discussing total orders of polynomial fields.

"How long are you staying?" Aldonza, for it was she and Amico, asked us.

"Well, we have History of Math at 1:00," said Concolor, "but one can never be late for history."

"I like that," I laughed. "One can never be late for history. I should put that as the title of a blog post."

Gentle reader, you have been warned.

That afternoon, though, was not for much studying, as
(a) Society Max showed me how to access his computer, and his MP3 collection, on mine through the LAN, and so I spent a great while emailing myself Marek and Vacek, my favourite Vanessa Mae songs, and my favourite Queen song of all time.

(b) Remember my discussion of the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab?
Tourmaline to Irene, March 21:
P.S The oils arrived!

I just realised that the envelope I was kicking aroudn the floor is a
priority mail package for me that my kind family had tossed into my room...

Irene to Tourmaline, March 21
!! Tell me how they turn out!

Oh, and --

You got Snake Oil, right? ... a quick warning about that one: like a
fine wine, it's meant to be aged.

Tourmaline to Irene, March 21

No I did not get Snake Oil, I got Silk Road, Aizen-Miyoo, Lightning, Dragon's Heart, O, Fallen and Haunted. Hey, that makes seven. I had wanted all of them, which one was the freebie? Oh, (checking my order) the mind-readers! The mind readers! Dragon's Heart was the freebie! And here I am, picking that precise one to try first, and I am stinking up the place ;-) wearing it and listening to Ride of the Valkyries ;-). I won't rant about individual notes, but so far I love it, and a sniff at the imps made me immediately love all of them except Aizen-Miyoo, which reminded me too much of guava or etrog (you Israeli, you know what guava and etrog are ;-) But I'll give Aizen-Miyoo a chance.

Me studying disliked Syntax for exam tomorrow, but me very happy.

Ok, examining the description of Dragon's Heart, I am smelling the musks - I cannot tell the smell of whatever dragon's blood smells like, or fig or currant either. Since I like musks, that's fine by me. If I sniff up close, I am getting a resiny amberlike scent, so maybe that is the dragon's blood. But the musks definitely dominate. I am not getting a dragon impression, but I don't mind; I like the scent.

I will check which of the oils I have is best for exam-taking.

And a double-check shows: Fallen: amber and musk, O: Amber and musk, Haunted: Amber and musk, Silk Road: everything, Lightning: ozone and marine, Aizen-Miyoo: funky spices. "We're guessing the gal likes amber and musk," think the experts at the lab.

Now that I have put some on, me likes Aizen-Miyoo. It smells...as if guava and a really nice citrus mated and had a child. Not something I would eat, but yummy to smell. That's first application. I will keep you posted.

To self: Go study passive structure, girl!

Ok, Aizen-Miyoo had a chance to dry a little, and it is still very interesting: almost-fruity, almost-spicy, with some kind of cool (temperature; and expression of admiration) undertone. Me likes this lotsa.

On the other wrist, Dragon's Heart is now strongly amber resin - and I smell the dragonfire! And ta little bit of something that I think has to be currant.

I thank you for introducing me to this wonderful company.

Now that Aizen-Miyoo is dry, I can smell the sweetness - something similar to vanilla; although the citrusiness lingers. It now smell like something you'd like to put on your chai latte (if you're me, and I've had Timothy's new chai latte that is fantastic, with sweet and spices...).

On the other wrist, Dragon's Heart has gone to a very clear resin amber smell all the way -with that fiery hint.

Me loves both.

Tomorrow is going to be either Lightning or Fallen for the test, and then maybe some O to try... hmm...


I wore Lightning for the test.

Tourmaline to Irene, March 21

So, I think O is not the smash hit it was cracked up to be, with me. Yesterday I tried it before going to bed, O on one wrist, Fallen on the other.

I love Fallen. I was intentionally lying with my wrist near my nose. I think I want to make Fallen my signature scent for night (Lightning works for day so far, although I have not yet tried Silk Road or Haunted).

But O is just a blend of something sweet and something medicinal, and it did not make me feel sexy and lustful and whatever - it just made me go "ok, this is an ok smell, but nothing in comparison to Fallen."

I think my body chemistry may bring out musks really strongly on first application. But I will give O another chance at a different time of the month before writing it off, as I love Aizen-Miyoo now.

Lightning is beautifully fresh - something indeed like a garden after a thunderstorm. It clears my notstrils.

Although I should note in my observations that my nose is slightly stuffed up and I may only pick up the strongest notes.

I will bring some of the imps tomorrow to show you.

Tata for now, I wish you joy.


The test I finished quickly enough to go back to the lab and write another email to Irene.

Tourmaline to Irene, March 22

Lightning smells like fresh wet flowers. I like it.

Now Fallen time again. Musk, here I come. And something that I think is votiver. I can smell the breath of imperial florals now.

Me going for lunch.


Not just any lunch; the whole bunch of us were going to Perfection-Satisfaction-Promise for Aldonza's farewell lunch.

Interestingly enough, the conversation at the peaceful restaurant turned to Scientology this time. Now that Amico has sent me the link to the South Park Blainetology episode, and while waiting for it to download I read a whole lot of the xenu.net site explaining the evils of Scientology, I think I dislike Scientology intensely.

Today I am not alone. The fragrance of my home-flower garden shall stay with me. Thus ran the quotation from Sri Chinmoy on a flower box at PSP, and we all had a laugh over it.

Fare well, Aldonza.

At the school, the Dark Lord was working with a few other students in the lab, and let me past them to get into the Mac lab.

"So," he said, "I tried opening your file, and it gives me the same error message. I wish I knew what it is, but it says nothing about what kind of error it is. So I am afraid I can't help you."

"Well," I said, "it's saved on the USB key. Could we try it on another computer, to see whether it is a local computer problem or a Keynote problem?"

We opened the computer next to mine, stuck the USB key imn, rebooted the iMac to make it recognise the USB key...

And got the same message: Keynote cannot open the file triivia night.key.

"Well," said the Dark Lord, "I guess you'll have to take it off the CD and reconstruct your work. And you know what? Every time you save, try exporting to PowerPoint. That way, even if the Keynote file fails, we'll still have the PowerPoint file."

I got to work, but before I did, I accessed my email and downloaded a certain song to open with iTunes, and perhaps the Dark Lord and his student heard, with irony set to delicate silk.

Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive
And the world is turning inside out
Floating around in ecstasy
So don't stop me now
Don't stop me
'cause I'm having a good time
Having a good time

I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go there's no stopping me
I'm burning through the sky yeah
Two hundred degrees that's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit
I'm travelling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time
Just give me a call
Don't stop me now
'cause I'm having a good time
Don't stop me now
Yes I'm having a good time
I don't wanna stop at all

I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite
I'm out of control
I'm a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to oh oh oh oh oh explode
I'm burning through the sky yeah
Two hundred degrees that's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit
I'm travelling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don't stop me don't stop me, don't stop me hey hey hey!
Don't stop me don't stop me ooh ooh ooh (I like it)
Don't stop me don't stop me
Have a good time good time
Don't stop me don't stop me
ohhhhhhh!

oh
I'm burning through the sky yeah
Two hundred degrees that's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit
I'm travelling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time
Just give me a call
Don't stop me now
'cause I'm having a good time
Don't stop me now
Yes I'm having a good time
I don't wanna stop at all


Well, I turned the volume down at "I'm a sex machine ready to reload." The school has its standards; just like in the USSR, except in Health classes every person in the school came into being by immaculate conception.

I listened to the Dark Lord joking to his student, to his irony and the dry humour I used to love so well and missed so much, and the thought struck me - maybe it was not the Dark Lord changing and seeming so depressed that I reacted to last fall. Maybe he is one of those people who only know how to act around teenagers with that dry humourous mockery. And now that I am not a teenager anymore, the power balance between us has shifted (and he has been a little afraid of me, believing my intellect to be superior to his, for a long time now, and I can cite many quotations to prove it.) So perhaps his apparent change to dry cold depression is simply because he does not know how to act around someone who used to be his inferior and is now his equal in our societal balance. I have broken out of the student-teacher relationship system, and, besides giving me what I want and more, and the very occasional mockery at a third party that we used to share all the time and now have not since the Cathcart Street tale, he has no idea how to act around me.

That's ok. A lot of men don't.

But what does it say about me that I enjoyed the inequality of the teacher-student relationship?

No, it was not that which I enjoyed. It was the sense that, because I was the smart one, the responsible one, and the one with a similar sense of humour, that he would look at me when he was going, "They're hopeless. They're hopeless." And I would nod yes in understanding. I enjoyed that unity.

There is a Russian song, "I just waited and believed Though my heart denied That we two are two trees, two leaves, By the same riverside." Only the rhyme is kept in an alternative Russian verse that I would translate into English as

I just waited and believed,
Though my heart was in the dumps,
That we two are two trees, two leaves,
And all the rest are stumps.


The Dark Lord's entry interrupted my musings. "Oh, and save them under different names, do you get what I'm saying?"

"No, say that again?" Maybe the unity was gone - but I remembered the first time I had ever truly admitted that I did not understand something, and that had made me a much better person, and that had been to the Dark Lord too.

"Well, say you have worked for an hour, and you decide that's enough work, you decide to save..." (An hour? I had saved three times already in those twenty minutes.) "And you save under trivia night 1, say. Then you work for another hour, and you save - save it under trivia night 2. And the next time you save after that, save back on trivia night 1. So that if one of them breaks down, we can go to an earlier one and see what was different. I'll be upstairs if you need me. "

Wise advice. Trivia night 1.key, export to trivia night 1.ppt. Trivia night 12.key, export to trivia night 12.ppt. Trivia night 1.key, export to trivia night 1.ppt...

Out of Memory Error.

Delete everything unnecessary - songs, other files I could re-download, etc. Empty trash. Export to trivia night 1.ppt.

Out of Memory Error.

Carefully leave the lab door slightly open, go up to the math office, and knock twice.

"Dark Lord, PowerPoint is giving me an Out of Memory Error, even after I have deleted everything I could."

"Well," said he, "export it to Images, then."

That worked. He came back later, me happily exporting to Images, and he got ready to go.

"How long do you think it will take you?"

"Another four or five hours. Knock wood. Although I guess knocking on wood substitute did not work last time. There!" I sprang up and grabbed a dowel rod from behind the storage cabinet. "Knock wood."

I put on a song. It was for him as he put on his coat.

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
why don't you go where fashion sits,
Puttin' on the ritz.

Different types who wear a day coat, pants with stripes
and cutaway coat, perfect fits,
Puttin' on the ritz.

Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)

Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
or "umberellas" in their mitts,
Puttin' on the ritz.

Have you seen the well-to-do up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare with their noses in the air
High hats and Arrow collars white spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime for a wonderful time

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
why don't you go where fashion sits,
(Puttin' on the ritz)
(Puttin' on the ritz)
(Puttin' on the ritz)


But then, late in the eighth hour, with trivia night 1.key open, I clicked on trivia night 2.key.

Keynote cannot open the file trivia night 2.key


A cold sweat broke out on my forehead. I went to the iPhoto, opened the last album. I could not for the life of me figure out how to extract them one image at a time. Finally I clicked on "Make slideshow in QuickTime," and waited.

It did make a slideshow. In QuickTime. But very differently from the one that Keynote makes. iPhoto is designed for displaying people's digital camera photos, so its slide show simply drifts from one picture to the next. Cute for those snapshots of your baby with Aunt Matilda; totally impractical for any question game where you need to read text on the pictures. And it's half a gigabyte in size, too.

And then I accidentally closed trivia night 1.key while trying to minimise it.

Keynote cannot open the file trivia night 1.key


I deleted trivia night 2, the older previous export, and saved the previous PowerPoint on the USB key. Then I took one of the spare CDs the Dark Lord had given me when I burned the CD backup, and I burned the album on it. Then I wrote the Dark Lord a long and very sad note. Saying I will be back tomorrow.

In the morning I met Irene for coffee, and over our conversation she smelled the imps, and I frantically worked on my His de Maths assignment. Once that was done, she and I discussed Russian - particularly the tense vs. aspect. To explain the Russian past tense of the verb "go" I gave it, and realised that was the imperfective aspect. "I was going to visit my friend when a crocodile attacked me. So you never finished it."

"So in Russian, crocodiles attack on people?"

"Yep. It has the derivational affix from the verb 'to fall,' right? So a crocodile fell on you. That is even scarier."

"So you mean those things that we were doing in the past tense, we never finished any of them?"

"Nope. Or you did them repeatedly."

She and I went to watch several more His de Maths presentations. In some of them, the most interesting part was watching Pestov try not to nod off.

After school I came to the Dark Lord, but he was with a student. So meanwhile I worked on the not-yet-done sports round, waiting for his bidding on what to do with the main round.

Finally I came out to him. "I have all the show as it is saved on images. Is it possible to pull the builds out?"

"If you want pretty pictures. So do you want it animated, or do you want it to work?"

Dark Lord, haven't you learned yet that Tourmaline wants both? Always, Tourmaline wants it all. "Ok, so I have the PowerPoint presentation. I tried it on my computer last night and it could not open it, but I think that may be my computer. When we saved things on my key at work, I saw pictures of the PowerPoint, so I think it is there."

The Dark Lord plugged the key into his laptop, and pulled up the file. Leaning over his shoulder, I laid my hand before him, with the two fingers crossed.

The literature title page appeared, playing. With the builds in the wrong order, like I remembered they were, but all there.

"So there it is. I guess you will have to do it in PowerPoint and display it on a laptop."

"One of those PC computers out there?" I asked, pointing to the outside lab.

"Unfortunately none of them have USB ports."

Long long ago in my robotic days, I had overheard him complaining about that. Then I did not care. Now I cared. A lot. "So do you trust me with your laptop for four hours?"

"Unfortunately not. Where I go, my laptop is going with me."

"Ok, then," I decided, "the lab at work has a good computer with PowerPoint. I will export the sports round right now, save them both on the key, and go to the lab and do it there."

Quick and decisive as usual. "I think what is happening is that your file is getting too big," said the Dark Lord. "I think you need to split it up into little chunks."

"We tried that before, and it could not save, remember?"

"Ok then."

"So you will need a laptop to display them," said the Dark Lord as I came back with my precious burden. "The school has a laptop, but it would not be able to take this PowerPoint. Keynote exports to the newer version, the one that comes with Windows XP. The school laptop has Windows NT, and they fixed all the things wrong with NT and called that XP. That's ok, I am sure some of your friends have laptops you can borrow."

Friends? Dark Lord, there is Concolor, and maybe Irene. And... "If I grow really desperate, can I ask you?"

"Well...maybe."

"Do you know yet what you are doing on Friday, March 31, between 7 and 10 in the evening?"

"No. Ok, I'll see what I can do."

There is a way I learned in Lord Pencilturn's gypsy dance of pirouetting and going down on one knee. If done right it is very graceful; whether done right or wrong, it is murder on your knee, and I can only do it, on a good day, over the right, onto my damaged right knee. I did not do it then. I just went down on one knee before him. "Thank you. I do not know if I will come back here again."

I was going up the stairs when it hit me that if I am moving out, I might as well clear out. I returned to find the Dark Lord still there.

"Maybe I should erase the files I have on that computer," I said.

"No, don't for now. In case you need them again."

"I am just a little worried about the security of all this..."

"I told my students not to touch it."

"Yes," I said, "but how afraid are they of you?"

"If I tell them I will kick them out of the course right then and there if they touch it, they obey."

"All right, then even if I do not come back here, you will see me again."

Amico was a little surprised at seeing me at the lab, but accepted me working on that PC.

And so I settled down, and realised that of course I will need to come back to the Mac lab again; the acknowledgement show was still in Keynote. And then I did a trick to split the PowerPoint presentation into little chunks, a trick cunning in its very lowness: I saved seven copies of the big show, for the seven rounds in it...and in each copy I deleted every slide except for those of one round. So I got seven PowerPoint shows. And then I did the same thing to split each one into the questions and the answers.

And those things are huge in their memory. The whole show was 79 MB - and each round is between 20 and 30 MB. I would definitely not be able to carry these away in the free space on my brother's USB key.

Ok, I planned. Today I get all the files arranged and all the fonts changed. On Friday I do not work; it is Reach finals. On Saturday I will figure out the animations. And on Monday I will bring the show back to the Mac lab, have Keynote open each little chunk, export them all to QuickTime, and burn them all to DVD.

With each setback, I was still brought closer to the goal.

And so it went into a long night, with me listening over and over again to "Don't Stop Me Now," and that most trashy yet comforting of songs, Army of Lovers' "La plage de St. Tropez."

We drink tea for two,
The sky is blue and I love you,
It's in your eyes you love me too.
Where it never rains we drink a shower of champagne
Let's dance away, let's go insane.
Crying when I empty my last bottle of sherry
I survived the winter of Paris
Come on, la plage de St. Tropez,
that summer day I need you there
I take your hand, I say mon cher,
And we're in love.
Oh, on la plage de St. Tropez
We have a dirty love affair
And there is music in the air
When we're in love.
What was the week all about?

First of all, I forgot to tell that on Friday afternoon, tired of the boys' slacking off and the dead silence in the van when I asked about sponsorship approaches, I wrote the following email to the trivia team, cc Lady Mollweide:

Gentlemen

I was very disappointed by the news that none of you have yet raised a cent to help the trivia night in four weeks. So I am forced to state the following concrete instructions:

1. Each one of you has until the end of March Break (March 19, 11:59 pm EST) to raise at least $300, including one Gold Sponsor. Otherwise, at that time (12:00 am March 20) I will access our registration form at NAQT and REMOVE ALL PLAYERS WHO HAD NOT DONE ENOUGH FUNDRAISING FROM THE TEAM. Even if you are the best player on the team, if you really do not want to go, there is no point in taking you.

2. If doing this removing leaves me with less than THREE (3) players who have shown themselves willing to go, I WILL CANCEL OUR TEAM PARTICIPATION, THE TRIP, AND THE TRIVIA NIGHT. I do not care if the two remaining players raised a thousand dollars each; a two-person Canadian team against four-person American teams will make Canada look really bad, and so it is better not to go. i WILL CANCEL THE WEBSITE AS WELL. If we are bragging about our prowess to the world and are at the same time doing nothing to show we actually work hard, we are lying to the world.

So mobilise your family, print those attached letters on heavy paper, ordinary paper, pink paper, or flowery paper or what have you, and get to work. If you are absolutely desperate by the 19th, bring in $400 and your family will be named Gold Sponsor (the extra charge is so fewer of you will go for that option).

I simply cannot carry all the work of doing this on my own small shoulders. In case you do not know, I am a full-time third-year student in an honours double-degree program (fifteen hours a week PLUS homework and there's lots of it); I work ten hours a week, have dance rehearsal for eight hours a week, work on an instructional martial arts video for six hours a week, and work on your trivia night slideshow for five to six hours a week. And I also have to travel to all those places and to sleep. There simply is not enough time for me to try to raise at least eight trivia night sponsors by myself as well; otherwise there will be no trivia night anyway, because I will be in Royal Ottawa.

If you have any questions, please reply.

I will see you on Tuesday.


I returned home to tell my mother of this, and she reprimanded that I was being far too harsh on the boys. So I wrote a reply letter:

Tourmaline to Lady Mollweide
I will watch and see whether they will call my bluff; my own family is now accusing me of being too harsh on the kids. I may actually be lenient about the $300 and if they come crying to me on the 19th saying "Tourmaline, we only have $150 and one door prize!" I will definitely cut them slack. However, if they shoot for the moon and miss, they will still land among the stars somewhere, as that cliche goes, so for now I do not want them to know that I am prepared to settle for less. What I will settle for, in the end run, is some sponsor name on every slide, and at least ten teams actually appearing at the trivia night. Soceity Max is currently playing good cop to my bad cop; he is sending them Cyberus's sponsorship web page.

Don't tell 'em.


Society Max's letter itself is too amazing for words; however, it is not mine to quote, so I will not quote it.

Crows in the sky
Monks under the sky
And in a white shift
Between them I lie.
I lie in the open
Fair and bright.
Young is the wind.

Old is the light.

My funeral was
In a church's great inside.
I was a fair lady
A beautiful bride.
My soul stood near,
Stood singing right there...
But the people did not believe.
At the body they stared.

All fate and all prayer
Were all changing place.
My lover was silent
And on his pale face
The light from the candles
Would hardly fall...
Forgive, I
Always forgave him all.
...
The candle burned out,
The censer's chain gave,
The earth, with a moan,
Was becoming a grave...
I leapt past a chickadee
Into the sky -
Now I am free,
A white bird am I.

Above all my family
Circling I came,
And laughed, not understanding
Their grief at all.
We will meet again
But we won't be the same.
There is a true freedom...
I hear my flock's call.


Yuri Shevchuk apparently wrote that song in memory of his wife, who died of a brain tumour. My mother was talking at the dinner table of letting a friend listen to it, and weep. "It's the words he uses. Family (blood kin), the fact that she forgave her lover, always forgave him everything... We do that."

We do. (I took some liberties with the translation, and there is one verse I am missing.) Another song by the same author, I hummed more and more as I planned my sponsorship attacks:

I, I am a nerve coiled through, my throat is a fuse alight,
Ripping from the pressure to the ones that I will turn right.
I am the poet of the ending day, there are too many things I hate.
If you insult me in this way, I will simply kill you, Fate!

I am a shepherd, a wolf red-furred, no trick will I be taught.
Of toothless words I graze a herd, and of course I will marry the lot.
An electric chair am I of course, you can't sit long in my stead.
Yesterday I punched the Universe, raising my earthly cred!

Through the hungry mob
Standing in line for Art
Pushing them all aside
Uncaringly I shove through.
Press cheerfully harder on Art,
We will cut a path to its heart,
No doubts, to the heart of Art,
Friends, come with me and you!


(I managed internal rhyme, I managed internal rhyme in a translation, me clever as sin!)

At the Reach practice, I requested that someone, and not Kilhuch because he has enough with the website, and not me because I have already made that clear, design advertising posters for the trivia night.

A small scrappy grade nine volunteered, and I got his email address to give him the details, and as soon as I got home that afternoon I sent the following message (this is going to be quite the multi-style post):

Hi

Thank you very much for volunteering to do this; we really appreciate it. However, I must warn you, as I warned Kilhuch, that you will have to work under deadline, and the key word in deadline is dead :-)

Here is the info we need in the poster:
...
I think it will look better if the information is typed. If you do not have a graphics / photo editing program, my brother highly recommends the freeware GIMP from http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net - (if you use Windows) - that way you can either draw the whole thing on computer, or make a hand drawing, scan it in, and replace the handwritten text with typed text.

Now here comes the DEADLINE part: I would like to see and approve a soft copy of the poster (.jpg or .jpeg) by Thursday 12:20 pm, so that we can print them and start handing them out on Thursday after school or Friday. Which means that if you have a scanner at home or are doing the entire thing on computer, you have until Wednesday evening to do it; if you do not, you must get the poster, all but the typed text part, ready tonight and either scan it at school or give it to me on Wednesday at 3 o'clock by the Social Science office and I will take care of scanning it and replacing the text. Please send a reply email by 10 p.m today to let me know which of those options you prefer.

Good luck, and I will definitely find a way to reward you for that poster if it is good


I did not go home immediately because I stopped by the city hall. No one was sending anything to the mayor, so I guess I will. I was in luck: walking into the city hall I saw my dance ensemble director talking to Lord Pencilturn, and the two of them helped direct me to where the mayor's office actually was, where I eventually delivered the letter of request into someone's capable hands, then stopped to leave a letter to be passed to the office of the local councillor. However, silly me did not write in the councillor's name, which I myself consider rude, so I resolved to remedy my mistake the next day, as well as deliver letters to all other councillors Lady Mollweide and I judged to be even vaguely applicable.

There was no answer from the poster-writer by ten p.m. I resolved to go to the Social Science office by 3:00 the next day anyway. What can I say? I hope.

Wednesday was International Women's Day. As I explained to Carrie, in Russian culture that is basically Valentine's Day and Mother's Day rolled into one: if you do not give your women (mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, teacher, coworker, etc.) flowers or other tokens of your appreciation that day, o man, consider yourself a pariah doomed to sleeping on the couch for as long as memories last.

After 80 minutes' work with Carrie, where we got quite far in the transcription we were working on, I left for English Syntax. On coming back to the lab, I cannot even now remember for what, I greeted Carrie and Concolor --- for on Wednesday in the lab Concolor and I are like dawn and dusk in Pushkin's "and not allowing gloom to cover / The evening sky, dawn's roseate light / Flies to replace the blush of twilight / Giving but half an hour to night."

"So how far did you guys get?" I grinned.

"Nowhere," they sheepishly admitted. "Well, first we were talking about the Oscars, and..."

Carrie went on ahead, and Concolor and I had a conversation, that, in the spirit of my work, I will use a running joke Concolor started, and transcribe in CHAT format.

*TOU = Tourmaline
*CON = Concolor
%, %com = comments explaining the action
Of course, I am fudging it, and this conversation will definitely fail the CHECK command in the CLAN program all CHAT transcriptions are "compiled" with; there are neither hyphens not multiple utterance terminators (several sentences) allowed in the same speaker tier. And of course, there is no @Begin and @End. Derivation crashes.

However, let me remind Concolor that he was being very silly, and will probably be embarrassed later. but he did make me laugh. Perhaps the only time that day.

*TOU: I am going to the city hall again. You want to walk with me?
*CON: No, not this time. I am meeting Aldonza for lunch.
*TOU: [% mock pout] Aww, with Aldonza and not with me?
*CON: I can walk down to the first floor with you.
*TOU: Do that.
*CON: [% mischievously] I will walk down a floor with you. I think our relationship is ready to go to that next level, physically. We feel comfortable notching it up a level - or down a level, as the case might be.
*TOU: [% laughing hilariously] bye !
%com: Tourmaline walks outside; suddenly head of Concolor comes through the doors afterwards.
*CON: Wait, I have another one!
*CON: I am going to go down with you, that's it.

I was laughing all the way to City Hall. I can never think of walking downstairs with a man in the same way again.

However, my waiting at the Social Science office came to naught - the grade nine did not appear.

"Well," Lady Mollweide said, "I hate to ask yet another thing of you..."

"I will do it," I said quietly. "Tonight, after I am done at the Mac lab." At least coming in to the math office half an hour early should gain me half an hour of extra time.

The Dark Lord was not in his office. Nor was his coat. But his car was still there, so he must have gone somewhere that simply required crossing the campus, right? Saying hi to Lady Cauchy and Lady Runfar and Lady Melpomene, I declared that I will waylay him, parked myself in his chair again, and settled to read the Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen I had picked up in the Science Office.

I skip articles, but even so it takes me a while to read all the interesting content of two daily papers. The Ladies offered their sympathy, but they claimed they had not seen him at all in the last few days; he was always busy. At each slight sound in the hall, I was all ready to drop my paper and proceed to the lab to make a needed backup copy, but no sound was the lord whose dominion the lab was.

And dear all the gods there are, I hated wasting time, I who seems to live her days in hyperdrive, desperate to cram every bit of living she can into them. He could have left a message. He could have told someone. I was growing annoyed.

Finally, at 4:15 I stood up, and announced, "Ok, it's letter-writing time again."

The Ladies chuckled.

"The correspondence of the Dark Lord and the Lady Tourmaline," I sighed, "will be published one of those days. Of course, it is rather one-sided. May I have a piece of foolscap?"

Dark Lord,

3:30 - 4:15

"Tell them I came, and no one answered.
Tell them I kept my word."

And I ate your chocolate, too.

--- Tourmaline Variety


And as I walked away from the school, the Dark Lord, in his car, drove past me.

If you insult me in this way, I would simply kill you, Fate!

I have heard that there is at least one site on which girls who had been hurt in love post names, photos and coordinates of men who jilted or stood them up, to warn other women to beware. Oh, I was angry enough for my wasted forty-five minutes to want to go to that site and enter the real name, real coordinates, and real photo of the Dark Lord, doing my part to ensure he sleeps on the couch for the rest of his life, for standing up Tourmaline Variety on International Women's Day!

Well, making the posters took the entire rest of my afternoon. And on to one in the morning. Since I do not have a colour printer, and the school does not have a colour printer (as far as I know; I go by Lady Mollweide's words, not the Dark Lord's), but Lady Mollweide does, it was to her that I was emailing every new version of the poster. The first one, although lovely in my sight, was too dark and too small-printed. I ended up making ten versions of the darned poster, in different colour schemes, and finally making a white one, I went to sleep without either showering, or, though it was my turn, washing the dishes.

The next day I got up to wash the dishes, only to meet my father's anger that I had not washed them the night before.

"I stayed up until one in the morning," I snarled, "making stupid posters for stupid trivia night, for your information."

"Well, why didn't you get someone else to do it?"

That was the straw that drove me to tears. It may be that birds and butterflies break out of shells when they grow up. Us humans build shells around ourselves on reaching adulthood, and mine is still too thin and too easily broken in places. "I did ask someone to do it! He never showed up! I had to do it myself!"

"Well," my father said practically, "don't associate with bastards."

"I know, easy for you to say! You can't know someone is a bastard until you find out!"

"True," my mother defended me, "you can't just assume everyone is a bastard to begin with."

"Well, you know what," my father said, "don't try doing it all yourself. Let it go on autopilot for a while, and watch what happens. What are those flowers doing on the table?"

"They're from your eldest son. He bought flowers for Tourmaline and me for Women's Day. We should take the carnations out, though; they'll kill the others soon if left with them."

Easy for you to say, I thought again. Thank be to the gods for Carrie, and for the fact I dropped Topology. I was twenty minutes late to my prescribed half-hour coding session, but I worked into the hour to balance everything out, letting Carrie read the Dose on the clock.

And I did not go to His de Maths either. There were two presentations scheduled, both in French, which the English speakers had the right to skip. Although I am by no means monolingual, I am even more vengeful than I am a French speaker. There had been three times in our nearly-five-year association that I had come to an appointed meeting to find the Dark Lord AWOL. And I, for one, am determined to not let such things pass without an explanation, or a making it clear that I am one to not let such things pass without an explanation.

My hunting led me to the math office, several times. His coat was in his office, but his laptop was not; his desk looked exactly as I left it yesterday, except for my letter. Out of curiosity, I casually looked into the garbage and recycling bins to see if my letter was there. It was not, but their levels were low' they could have been recently dumped.

"I tell you, Tourmaline," Lady Cauchy said, "I still haven't seen him."

"Well," I declared to the math office, "when you do see him, please tell him that Tourmaline is very angry with him, and she will probably yell at him when she next sees him."

I did not plan to yell at him. I planned to quietly explain to him that several people had let me down that day, and he was a person I had least wanted to be among them. That while I depended on him for the Mac lab access, on my side I had absolutely no leverage on him but whatever respect he had for me, and I was hurt to see no evidence of such respect yesterday.

It was Tanaquil who gave me the hint I needed to complete my hunt. He sat before his laptop in a computer lab. And of course, it is a truth universally avoiding acknowledgement that whenever I see the Dark Lord, whatever I planned to say in advance is lucky if 1% of it gets said (this is not a trait restircted to the Dark Lord alone, but strongly correlated with him). Darn the man, but perhaps what I do say is always the best of all possible statements.

*TOU: What happened yesterday?
*DAR: I had a meeting.
*TOU: And you could not have told someone in the math department to tell me?
*DAR: No.
*TOU: Well, I was very unhappy.
*DAR: I'm sorry. # You'll have time.
*TOU: [% trying to civilly get a point across] We seem to be running on different timelines. I don't have time.
*DAR: Isn't it for your thing in May?
*TOU: No, for my thing on March 31st. Which you kindly registered for me.
*DAR: You'll have time.
*TOU: How does Monday look?
*DAR: Monday looks fine."
*TOU: Okay then. [% Tourmaline moves to go] Have a good weekend.
*DAR: Wait a sec. Monday is March Break.
*TOU: Well, how does Friday look?
*DAR: You mean tomorrow? Bad.
*TOU: Even in the morning?
*DAR: Even in the morning.
*TOU: All right then. But it does make me hurt and unhappy. Have a good March Break.
%com: Tourmaline exits stage right and the camera follows her; end of session
@End

And thus went the reputed yelling session. If I go on this way, how would anyone believe that I can, and do, yell, that I can, and do, get mad at people, and that I can, if pressed, use all of my very extensive memory of someone I cared about enough to get angry at, and I can hit them where it really hurts. I do have a small nuke against the Dark Lord; I toyed very briefly while raging as to whether I should use it. But that is mutually assured destruction while I need the darned Mac because 80 MB of one of my heart's love children are stored on it; I cannot commit such evil. And so I had to grit my teeth and endure two men letting me down on International Women's Day. And, and my Russian woman's soul made tears sting at my eyes at this as I walked back to the university, my brother being the only man who gave me flowers. Well, I regarded it in perspective, if there had been a Mac session, I would not have had time to do all the posters. But I don't want to be a meek Patient Griselda. I remembered Zog's accusation of me being imperious, and I welcomed it with pleasure.
"Because it is now over. Because Ve-Kesh had his reasons."

"He had his reasons!" It was Juan's outburst this time. "Rimma, if someone was going to murder you, would you lie back and let him because he has his reasons?"

"For one thing, if he is incredibly abysmally stupid enough to actually consider murdering me," Rimma dragged out, "he'd better have pretty amazingly good reasons, and I don't think insanity or brainlessness count. For another, let's now stop discussing the past we cannot change, and turn to the future that we must."

- From an early draft of my novel, deleted in later versions to make the plot sleeker. Yet Rimma is my alter ego, and I am the same way now as I was then. I yield to this alleged meeting. Because he had his reasons. And because that did allow me enough time for mine.

But that afternoon, our posse semi-organised a letter-handing-out trip. Cuchulain and Bedivere went with me, and, wonder of wonders, we managed to get three door prizes! As well as a bunch of letters handed out. We were safe, we were safe, we were safe!

Friday, though, I needed to pick up more letters from the school - it was the last day before March Break, everyone should have campaign letters, right?. I wheedled a twenty-minute break out of Carrie, and, humming, I proceeded on that path I tread so often.

The little grade nine who had failed me was talking to his friends in front of the building. His eyes on seeing me were full of that false bravado that this age seems to assume, as I gathered the deepest disgust my voice is capable of to tell him: "You're fired."

(I never watch reality TV, so I do not know how Donald Trump does it. I do it like me.)

"I quit!" he replied, protesting, as I walked past, coldly, without bothering to explain to him that normal people, when quitting, give two weeks' notice and reasonable reasons, and clear up all of their running obligations before leaving. I should know: I have quit two courses, a job, and three potential boyfriends; I know how to do it with dignity.

The Lady Mollweide greeted me warmly, but explained that I will need to print new letters - she will gladly sign them, but their department had a staff meeting right now, so she would be busy.

I know the sequence of steps by now and will remember it for a long time: the colours as once again the letter downloads from my email, the whirr of the warming laser printer --- and the smell, that soapy smell of heavy paper hot from laser ink, mixing with the smell of ballpoint ink as I deposit my messy signature on forty letters, one after another as still more are spewed by the dragon printer. The staff meeting ended just as my patience did, and I had time to tell the Lady Mollweide that I have taken all the prepared letters with her signature as well as mine. My letters are waiting for her signature to be complete. Then I headed back to the university with the quip I learned from CSI "Gotta go, I'm on the clock."

Then the realisation struck me: I had forgotten to get a newspaper! Any other day of the week I can live without a newspaper, but on Fridays, how can I live without knowing what Jay Stone of the Ottawa Citizen and the people at the Globe and Mail Review think of the movies opening in theatres that week? I asked Carrie's permission one more time to absent myself from work at 3:00, and ran off to the SocSci Office, ostensibly to pick up some politicians' letters, truly to pick up my movie and Facts and Arguments fix.

I strode out again, Citizen and Globe and Mail under my arm, keeping them pressed against my chest and only folded two-ply because of the heavy-paper letters between the sheets, when in the crowd of students rushing off to March Break I saw the Dark Lord exit.

"Have a good March Break," I said archly, with no trace of hard feelings in my voice, turned away, sidestepped off the sidewalk to avoid two overfashioned girls walking abreast, and landed hard on the side of my foot. I remained upright but I strained my left outside tendon that runs along the fibula, and it hurt annoyingly during dance class and still hurts now, on Monday. Moral, boys and girls, is: if your life involves a lot of dancing piqué turns in circles, saying hi to the Dark Lord may be hazardous to your career. Whether you have or have not forgiven him.

"Soren," I asked at dance rehearsal, "may I infringe on the hospitality of your car again this evening?" That is my convoluted way of asking people for a drive.

"Of course, of course."

"I feel a little embarrassed to be asking for things all the time," I said, stretching my leg on the barre.

"Well, you know," Soren said in that manner of his in which he and Rustem are identical, "most people, given the chance, are nice people. They like helping others. You know, there was a study done: they lost wallets in various cities, with $100 in them, and 99 times out of one hundred, the wallet would be returned with all the money intact."

"I heard of a different study," I said. "They put keys on the sidewalk and timed how long it would take for the keys to be stolen, in various cities. Moscow was the record, at seven minutes."

I spent my spare time watching Russian music awards shows - I need my fluff for my overtaxed soul. On Monday night, my whole family watched again as singer Dima Bilan (now Russia's representative for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest) performed the song that won the professional jury prize for "New Songs About The Most Important Things"" "You Have To Be Near." I must say that whatever the song is like, that young man sang it believing in it - and currently I feel strongly when people sing without believing in their song - and I respect that. Indeed, he drove himself to a fever pitch in his performance, and in the post-song interview he still had trouble coming down from that transcendent existence. I know that feeling; it is the finest part of the performing arts, love, and bipolar disorder.

"He is a man possessed," my mother remarked. "Tourmaline, beware of tying your life to such a man."

I pointedly looked at my father. "Too late," I said, grinning mischievously.
I slept in for Topology today, and, rejoicing that I do not have to go to it, I finally rose and headed for an area of my computer I had long neglected. Yesterday, rooting around in another account on my computer, I discovered to my joy that a draft of my old Theocracy story I had given up for dead when my hard drive went comatose last summer was actually recovered, and was openable. As soon as I got it back into reading format, I fell to reading, and could not tear myself away. "What will happen next, what will happen next?" "Of course you know what will happen next, narcissistic honey, you wrote the thing." "Aye, I do remember who dies and who lives - but I do not remember how they got there. And I am always pleasantly surprised when I go back to any piece of writing I did and discover that no matter what I learned in the intervening interval, it does not make me cringe.

Tourmaline writes in this blog of hers about her love life but obliquely until now; brace yourselves, dears, because her first and greatest and most loyal love is writing itself, and to that, every sentence I craft of my own free will is epithalamion and drug hit.

Jane gave me the necklace she made for me, and I love it dearly, intentionally going to every mirror in my range to admire myself in it. I wore it to the trivia practice where I beat BInturong 335 to 110; they told me of a kid who came in as I was leaving last week, and when told that I would be pretty difficult to beat, yelled, "One month, and I will beat her!" The University of Ottawa Trivia Team laughs. Out loud. I am bad at sports, pop culture, and physics, I admit. There are plenty of things I do not know, including the capital of Maryland. But the Trivia Team still laughs at him.

After a cursory Dark Hunt, I again parked myself in the chair of the Dark Lord: "His coat is here, his laptop is here; he cannot be far away, and he has to go through me." I am the very pink of courtesy; I do not move any thing to look closely at other things, for when the Dark Lord feels his privacy is threatened, he bites. I regarded the staff lists, and the board school year calendar, and the list of school contact numbers, and the white board on which the math department put "quotes" by their number, including one by the Finance teacher: "After my first time, I was in traction." I did not seek to invent meanings behind this; it was probably actually the first time skiing.

And I noticed a glass jar of lollipops and chocolate hearts. "Ok," I announced to Lady Runfar and Lady at 4:05, "I'll give him another ten minutes, and then I'm eating his chocolate."

"Does he know you are waiting for him here?" Lady Runfar asked me.

"He should; I always come here at 4:00 on Monday. Of course, I will not make any nasty remarks about the Dark Lord's memory."

The Dark Lord arrived nine minutes later, and I repeated my now-cancelled threat to him for historical reasons.

"You could have taken it without waiting," he said.

"I could? Well then, I will." The lollipops please me not, but I helped myself to three red-foil-wrapped milk-chocolate hearts left over from Valentine's Day. Then we went to find out why the traditional new-file-copy-paste-save algortihm breaks down when it comes to Keynote. Alas, we could not determine this, putting into jeopardy my idea of having the separate rounds be separate video files.

"You do realise that this will just cause you more headache, right?" our local defender of a headache-free lifestyle spoke up.

I sighed and agreed that if Keynote itself is against my getting headaches, who am I to object, and I settled down to work to the music I had, following the principle "loop the song you like until you hate it, then switch to another song you like and repeat." I particularly listened to Vyssotsky's "Private Borisov."

"Private Borisov!" "Sir, yes, sir!" "Tell how it went, alright?"
"I was on my last legs, I barely stood.
It rained hard, and I grew tired, then came a foggy night...
Only I had warned him like I should!

"He joked around when "Who goes there?" I shout,
At my shot in the air he yelled, "Cut it out!"
I hesitated, but I didn't quarrel;
I spat out my fag and discharged the barrel."

"Quit it, private, better for you if the truth comes out.
You'd have known him a mile away..."
"No, I just heard someone coming, in the dark I shout -
It was cloudy, rain, and fog, I say."

"He joked around when "Who goes there?" I shout,
At my shot in the air he yelled, "Cut it out!"
I hesitated, but I didn't quarrel;
I spat out my fag and discharged the barrel."

"Private!" the investigator tortured on out loud,
"The court martial won't be so nice again!"
"It was dark, I couldn't recognise no one with fog and cloud,"
I went on repeating my refrain.

"He joked around when "Who goes there?" I shout,
At my shot in the air he yelled, "Cut it out!"
I hesitated, but I didn't quarrel;
I spat out my fag and discharged the barrel."

A year ago, and I do not forget old deprivations,
We had argued a little in the mine.
Too bad we didn't get to finish the conversation:
There was the bell for the evening line.

And there he'd joked when "Leave her alone!" I shout,
On my right punch he there yelled, "Cut it out!"
I hesitated - I was hurt, too mad to say -
I spat out my fag, threw down my knife, and walked away.

Luck was with me then, that he survived the year...
While I just did my duty well that night.
It was true, rain, dark and fog, I was on guard right here...
By all the rules, shooting him was right.

For he joked when "Who goes there?" I shout,
At my shot in the air he yelled, "Cut it out!"
I hesitated, but I didn't quarrel;
I spat out my fag and discharged the barrel."


Until I tried translating that song, I had never noticed the importance of the line "Luck was with me then that he survived the year," literally, "that he turned out a survivor." Hmm, I will not comment to explain that song; it explains itself, and trying to go deeper into it is "like dissecting a frog: few people around are interested, and the frog dies." I wish I had a better knowledge of English slang, but I do the best I can. I shoudl reread Athaira's Dictionary of the Underworld.

Afterwards, I headed home, tired and drained and feeling almost dull. And I watched the 23 and 24th episodes of Evangelion.

My, how did they do it? Concolor did say that Episode 24 was his favourite episode, a ray of light in the darkening mood of the series. But it was the first episode about which I now think, "I have to rewatch this. Watch it again."

However, I had no time. There were too many other things I wanted.

What do people want? On Friday's rehearsal, I was stretching with Elizaveta, Soren, Taglioni and Sylvie, and Soren looked at me in full butterfly and said, "I wish I was that flexible."

"I wish I could jump that high," I replied. "I wonder what Taglioni wishes for." She seems to have everything.

"What do you wish for, Taglioni," Soren and I asked, "that other dancers in this group have and you do not?"

Never let your sister be in the same rehearsal with you. "Boobs," Sylvie grinned at us impishly.

Well, if the boyfriend is fine with them, why should anything else matter?

I do not worry in dance any more; I have so much trivia-night stuff to do that I just go in to dance, rehearse, do the best I can, and if I fluff or lose a turn sequence, or am not selected for a show, who cares? I now don't and who other than me does?
Alas, I left Concolor to go to the Reach players for their last Reach practice before the Regionals Part I. And, oddly enough, Zog showed up to practice.

Zog is a year younger than me: he was in the Reach club my first year of coaching, and now he is in his second year at Ottawa U. I teased him about Reading Week being over, and invited him to play; he did not get very many questions, but he got a few. "Zog is in the stats!" I yelled cheerily at his first correct answer.

Afterwards, as I packed up the buzzers, I asked him why he had actually come to the practice.

"I was sent by Kevin [the star of the Reach team that year]," Zog replied. "He is concerned about what you are doing. He thinks this showing people the stats is not right, and I agree with him. It makes people compete with each other."

"Well, if people don't want to receive the stats, they should just tell me so," I replied. "And why can't Kevin just tell me himself?"

"Because it is hard to. You are really imperious about things like Reach. People are afraid to talk to you."

Me? Imperious? Me the coward who does not dare speak up? Me the shy girl who does not dare tell people that they are not good enough for the team? I am imperious? People are afraid to talk to me? Zog himself seemed awkward and embarrassed trying to say this.

I had come up with the stats for what I thought were very good reasons: (a) it allows me, Lady Mollweide and whoever wishes to argue with me to see who is stronger than who without having to estimate, thus making the selection of the competitive team objective (b) it allows people to see in which areas of knowledge they are weaker, allowing themselves to improve if they so desire and brag of where they are strong (c) it allows me to monitor progress and give well-founded encouraging compliments to players who had made a sincere effort, as I did with Roland (d) it allows me to make more well-founded projections of our success at competitions, and (e) last of all, it does allow for healthy competition and personal bests. Aren't these good reasons? And if you do not want to see the stats, please tell me. If you don't want to be on the stats at all, please tell me and I will make an empty category for all players who wish not to be, or assign your points to myself to disguise which points were mine and which yours more effectively. Look, people, I don't bite, and when I see I am wrong, I admit it. I am not imperious. Am I?

Am I?

There were two presentations in His de Maths. The first was by a guy and a girl on cryptography. I made no notes during that entire presentation, except for writing down "Frequency Analysis" once, and then making a note I showed to Concolor: "The sponsor of MAT 3101 History of Mathematics II is Simon Singh. Last class: Fermat's Enigma, this class The Code Book." Concolor heartily agreed; although the presenters made several visual aids, they progressed in the history of cryptography in precisely Singh's order, even using the same transitions and metaphors: "Now the cryptanalysts are ahead of the cryptographers...If a guard was posted who would shave everyone's head and heat every piece of paper..." It was disgusting; have people forgotten how to do a real presentation because they have listened too long to professors quoting web notes? And the presentation stopped at the invention of the Vigenere. I raised my hand at question time: "Where does the math come in?" "Well, there was the Enigma, and..." they waffled.

Pestov began talking about the Shannon bound; I shushed him: "Mine, mine, mine! Don't steal my thunder!" I now knew what I needed for my presentation on the 31st, and if such a "cryptography" presentation was enough, I could make one that would knock people's socks off. Even without Keynote. Ah, coding theory: the only area of math in which I can get away with making a linguistics presentation.

Come to think of it, I can also make math presentations in linguistics class. Come to think of it, if meanings are sets, what is their point-set topology?

But the next presentation was the best one I have seen yet, on Nicolas Bourbaki. The presenter was articulate and funny, and I have not read his sources, so I was not criticising.

I used the break after His de Maths and before 4 o'clock to go ask Ravensara, a store I had formerly been fond of, for a door prize. I was saddened at the lady owner of Ravensara telling me she would not ask her husband - he would just say no - and would think about it herself. Merciful heavens, do all people become that way in old age? Stubbornly arguing and saying no?

Then at 4 o'clock almost on the dot, I was up on the math floor of the school. I saw the Dark Lord talking to Lady Cauchy about something. I ambled over and made my presence vaguely noticeable; the Dark Lord politely requested a brief wait, so I obediently trundled back to the math office area and stood perusing a poster on the wall. I got quietly amazed at my patience as I settled into that meditative waiting mode I get when letting someone finish while being in no rush myself, or when practicing tai sabaki over and over and over.

Then the Principal appeared on the second floor, and started talking to the Dark Lord of something about two people. I watched the Dark Lord check the bathroom for them, and I was vaguely bemused from my cocoon of no-hurry mode. Then there was a sudden P.A announcement:

"Would all staff and students remaining in the school please go down to the main floor now. Please lock down the classrooms behind you and please go down to the main floor now. Please check the washrooms for any persons remaining in there."

I met eyes with the Dark Lord as I headed for the stairs. "I suppose that includes me."

"Yes, please." And I allow for the stress he was under and I forgive his voice for being harsh to me.

I leaned against the wall of the entrance lobby on the main floor, and went back to the wait cocoon, watching students and teachers flock into a crowd around me. An agitated girls' volleyball team came in from the gym; when the Principal heard they were in the gym, she allowed them to return to their game. Most of them set off back across the open lot, but one tried to head for the tunnel, and was waylaid on the way by the Dark Lord. Lady Mollweide came up, and I met eyes with her and mouthed complacently, "Just my luck."

The Principal revealed the story: she had heard news of two strangers in the school, and saw two students in a classroom unsupervised. She called measures for a search of the school, and no one was found, but one has to take those measures just in case the students' safety was threatened. I rolled my eyes to myself. Yes, I know that all of those measures are there for a good reason; better my interlude of bored waiting by the lobby wall, standing in fifth position of the feet, than a child dead. But don't I love university and the quiet lab office I have my long security key to, where I can work alone if necessary, unsupervised, undisturbed, and trusted. And trusting my own aikido-coded instincts to, if it comes to trouble, get out of the way.

The brouhaha was finished, but the Dark Lord quietly recommended I go home and come back another time.

"Well," I sighed, "then please please please keep computer #5 safe in my absence."

"Nothing will happen to it," he promised.

As I headed out, I saw a classful of music students coming in, explaining, "We were playing music, so we hadn't heard the announcement!"

"Aw, you missed some excitement," I laughed, went home, made a phone call to a potential sponsor and left a voice message, sorted out various other affairs some, then went to aikido.

Oakenshield and Marc-Antoine were there, and we worked on, as usual, fourth kyu. Marc-Antoine wanted to get back to principles. "Yonkyo!" I grinned. "Fourth principle, perfectly good principle." But we ended up working on yokomenuchi ikkyo, with special emphasis on the pin.

That night I fell asleep without showering, an experience that always makes me feel guilty and restless. So guilty and restless that I got up at four a.m. and took a shower. And then lost my supper into the toilet.

Grr, I so did not want to get up for Morphology at eight o'clock in the morning. I even dawdled and was intentionally late, to give myself a little more time. Please, don't let me be sick, not now. Let me be sick on the weekend. Now I need to go and actually pick up the Morphology assignment.

I felt a little better at 7:30, and managed to get to Morphology class by 8:35 or thereabouts. However, in the middle of the class I quietly got up, quietly headed for the bathroom, and quietly lost my breakfast.

I tried to wash out my mouth by drinking some water; and I lost that too. I went to the lab, telling Carrie that I will try to work, but I won't go to English Syntax. Carrie, bless her heart, told me to go home and go to bed right then and there, and I had no strength to do anything but obey.

I came home to tell my mother about how I felt. "Ok, what did you eat?"

I described my food consumption, including the water. When you cannot keep water down, that is a problem. "Ok, next question: are you pregnant?"

The thought had occurred to me, and if this is what pregnancy feels like, there better be a wonderful husband around meanwhile and a wonderful child around afterwards to make it all worth this. "I gained the impression," it is amazing that I can still joke when feeling like this, "that you get an archangel giving you advance warning in such a situation."

My mother laughed, and told me to boil some green tea with ginger. Drinking it made me feel a lot better, and the news that an acquaintance of ours has donated $100 to our trivia night cause made me feel better yet. However, having to phone him to say thank you as soon as I could and leave a voice message was not good at all; his wife later told me that neither of them could understand a word of what I was blabbering about (I apologised and rephrased it then). Then I went and fell asleep, sleeping until 3:30, to head to meet the Dark Lord at 4:00, with the CD. No archangels came in my dreams.

"The CD should work," I muttered. "It is a read-write CD, isn't it?"

"Even read-write CDs don't work that well," the Dark Lord replied.

And it was not a read-write CD anyway; Society Max had deceived his sick, tired and un-tech-savvy sister by letting her get the wrong impression.

I heard an utterance from the Dark Lord that my linguist's mind (is my linguist's mind the last one that stays healthy when I am sick?) parsed with the syntax of a question but without a question's rising intonation contour. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"I said do you want a CD?" the Dark Lord said with his dry humour that I used to know so well, and which is possibly in complementary distribution with rising intonation contours.

I sighed. "Yes. I should, like, declare an un-birthday and give you a package of CDs and DVDs for it, afterwards."

"Don't worry about it, I get a really good deal on them," said the Dark Lord, giving me three.

So I did burn a CD. But then I went home, and I was still not in any mood to do a Topology assignment, especially since the only notes Pestov had put up on the website were about the assignment. So I still did not know what a cover was.

You are allowed to skip 20% of assignments; I would miss the class with Reach Regionals tomorrow anyway. I decided to skip this one.

I will tell about Reach Regionals in the next post. I will only say that I told Tanaquil about Topology, and remarked, "I will be dropping the course anyway."

And that evening, on the eve of the last day to drop courses:
Student: Tourmaline Hessanite Variety
Student Number: 35555555...
Course: MAT 3153 Introduction to Topology
Action: To drop
Response: Accepted


And a load slid off my shoulders. I have reached the pinnacle of understanding in the area of math I had most hoped for. Leaving me stranded, with my mathematical identity untethered from its hope. But, in any case, after this Trivia Night trouble passes over, dear gods what a resume I will have.

And I can always write.

Your favourite math-dancer-linguist signing off.
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