July 31, 2011

The Dinosaur: Part V

The Dinosaur has been fixed again!

Tonight, after I got home from an afternoon of Catan (oh my goodness, I've missed that game) I decided it was time to give fixing my audio problems another shot. By this point, the Dinosaur had started randomly beeping whenever it darn well pleased. While each been was something that made me incredibly excited and hopeful, I quickly realized that the beeping was not significant of a fix and really just the Dinosaur's way of continuing my torment and anguish by giving me hope. The monster. I don't know why it hates me so. I tried troubleshooting, I tried online tech support, I tried desperate searches through the bowels of the Internet for any sort of guidance.

After all this, I figured out that none of the drivers I had downloaded had taken or installed properly. My computer was convinced that the sound card didn't exist, and I couldn't do a darn thing to convince it otherwise. I resorted to a lot of key-mashing and raging. After a few hours of this, I had to call in the big guns - a former Geek Squad employee, to be specific - but in the end it was worth it. Since I already knew what was wrong with the Dinosaur, he was able to quickly fix the problem AND THEN SOME. Now my screen resolution is crisp again, my sound works, my touchpad works, and the Dinosaur as a whole is a lot happier.

Once the Dinosaur was working again, I logged onto Skype. My account worked just fine (HURRAH!) but about20 minutes in my power cord started acting funny.

Then it died.

Technology hates me.

July 30, 2011

The Dinosaur: Part IV

This thing officially hates me beyond all recognition.

It was fixed, it really was. It still boots up crazy fast and has over twice as much space on the hard disk and has twice as much ram and stopped crying whenever I tried to do anything and really was just happy. It was a beautiful couple of days, truly, and my blood pressure went down a lot.

Then I tried to play music on iTunes.

The Dinosaur is convinced it no longer has the built-in speakers it was born (err, manufactured) with. I can see the speakers. I can touch the speakers. I can fiddle with the speakers. They are sitting right underneath my wrists as I type. I promise you, they are there. But the Dinosaur doesn't believe me. I press the buttons and nothing happens. I try to play music and nothing happens. I open a youtube video and, while there is video, nothing happens (audio-wise). I don't know what to do anymore. I've exhausted my tech support (I'm sorry, but I can only download and re-download so many drivers before I start to lose hope) and my patience.

Maybe it's time to throw in the towel.

Of course, throwing in the towel would mean surrendering my laptop indefinitely. These things are crazy expensive. And I do still need a computer for, like, school and such and whatnot and things.

While we're on the subject of crazy expensive technology. Today I went to Best Buy to buy a webcam so I could communicate with my friends across the country/in college/etc. I've been meaning to buy one of these for a while, and I'm pretty happy with my purchase thus far (though the fact that I still lack the appropriate drivers to have any audio makes video chatting kind of, well, pointless). I was thoroughly amused at the fact that the salespeople were completely willing to discuss pirating and illegal downloads with customers. They're realists there. Mad respect.

But while we were in the store, I experienced a strange emotion, something that can only be described as Apple rage. My younger sister is insistent that the only way in the world that she will ever be happy again is if she replaces her (admittedly craptastic) Stinkpad with a Macbook. The salesperson loved this, and was doing his darndest to make a sale on a $2000 piece of plastic given that it's the end of the month and the store really needed to move some merchandise. The salesperson was less thrilled at my less-than-positive remarks on why NO 13-YEAR-OLD ACTUALLY NEEDS A MACBOOK. Apparently, I was a bit more educated (and far more influential on my mother's purchasing) than he was expecting.

I have a feeling this Dinosaur series is going to go on for quite some time. I'm already on Part IV, and it doesn't seem like this piece o' plastic is going to start behaving anytime soon. Chances are, a few months from now (okay, graduation) I'll have "The Dinosaur: Part XXIX" which will include the words "The Dinosaur is no more - say hello to the [name of my next computer]." I'm currently taking suggestions on choice of evolution after Dinosaur to then dub it's successor.

If I don't get a new laptop, this will be the Dinosaur's future.
It might be it's future even if I do.

July 29, 2011

Soundtrack to Summer: The Sequel

Yeah, I know, I already did one of these. Whatever. Deal with it. I could justify this as being the B-side to my first post, but in reality I just felt it necessary to update this since I’m not actually listening much to the music on the first soundtrack. This is mostly because I went to my public library a few days ago and sat on the floor (something I do regularly and in most places) in front of the stack of CDs. Before I realized what had happened I had 14 CDs in my hands (okay, I’m not that coordinated – they were toppling over in my arms and making quite a mess – but I got them to my car in one piece, and that is the point) and another 26 on order.

You see, I have this pesky thing called a conscience. It keeps me from illegally downloading anything. Yes, I recognize how fantasmagical torrenting is. Yes, I wish I could use it. But I can’t because I would feel dirty and awful. You don’t know how many hoops I’ve had to jump through to fabricate the mental justification I need to handle the fact that the version of Windows XP downloaded on the Dinosaur is pirated. My techie friend even went to extra effort to hide it from me, but to no avail. (Of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean logo with “Windows XP Pirated” written underneath it as the default background made things a bit obvious. Though I’m not going to lie, being able to adjust my settings so that my computer looks like it’s running Windows 7 is kind of cool, even though it’s making the Dinosaur feel much cooler than it actually is, especially given that it’s decided it no longer has speakers. Um, yes it does. I beg to differ. But I digress – this parenthetical has gotten to be far too long.)

So basically I have to get all of my music through legal mediums. It takes longer, but the moral satisfaction is worth it. Ripping music off CDs from the public library may fall on the shady side of things, but it’s still legal.

So here goes:

  1. “Sun of a Gun” – Oh Land
  2. “Not Fair” – Lily Allen (I’m going to be honest, there is another song on her album “It’s Not Me, It’s You” that I’m more obsessed with, but my parents would have a big of a qualm with me posting it on my blog given the profane nature of the song’s name. BUT IT’S SO FUNNY LULZ.)
  3. “12 Fingers” – Young the Giant
  4. “You Should Learn” – We are Scientists
  5. “Doctor” – Cute is What We Aim For
  6. “Hysteric” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  7. “Night of the Hunter” – 30 Seconds to Mars
  8. “Far Far” – Yael Naim
  9. “Headlong into the Abyss” – We are Augustines
  10. “Basket Case” – Sara Bareilles
  11. “This Too Shall Pass” – OK Go
  12. “Second Go” – Lights
  13. “Battery Kinzie” – Fleet Foxes
  14. “Rumor Has It” – Adele
  15. “Eet” – Regina Spektor
  16. “Something Good Can Work” – Two Door Cinema Club

Hopefully someone will enjoy this. Ah, the self-indulgence that is blogging.

Schrodinger's lolcat

July 27, 2011

Autocorrect Woes

Autocorrect blows. Like hard-core parkour blows. I'm not used to using an iPhone (or any device with an autocorrect function, for that matter), so while the Dinosaur was in the shop I had a bit of difficulty using the family iPad for all that completely necessary trolling and whatnot. One minute I would be innocently typing out a completely innocuous message to a friend, and the next minute the page would be filled with incoherent streams of unrelated nouns, expletives, innuendos, and general garbage assortments of letters.

Let's just say there was a lot of raging going on on my end.

I mean, autocorrect has some reeeeeeeally weird stuff in its databanks. There is an entire website devoted to allowing disgruntled (and often embarrassed) users to send in screenshots of the incredibly awkward and random autocorrects that slip through, causing innumerable misunderstandings and awkward moments.

However, you cannot imagine my excitement (and autocorrect's unending redemption) when I accidentally misspelled "ages" as "agrs" and it autocorrected to "gars."

Save Our Seeker.

Why wouldn't you want to save this?

July 25, 2011

True Blood

TV has gotten to be really weird.

Like really weird.

The evidence speaks for itself. Consider TLC. Called The Learning Channel, TLC used to show lots of educational shows about medical anomalies, strange cultures, and human oddities. It was, well, educational in some respect. Now? I recently spent a weekend binging on the horror that is My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. When asked about the show, the only comment I could muster was, “Oh my stars.” The show is ridiculous. It doesn’t count as “learning” – it counts as awkwardly gaping at a completely different culture that encourages girls to dress in bikinis at weddings and get married in two hundred pound gowns. (Morally I feel some sort of obligation to bash on Say Yes to the Dress as it also goes against everything TLC supposedly stands for, but that show is one of my guilty pleasures. They are pretty dresses. Don’t judge me.)

But I honestly thought I had seen the full gamut in terms of weird TV.

Then I watched half an episode of True Blood.

I got roped into watching the show with my mother after she wanted to turn it on and I was far too lazy to get off the couch. Five minutes in I had already identified one of the characters as an actress from the Harry Potter franchise (Aunt Petunia, if you were curious), made a half dozen comments comparing the relationships on the show to bestiality/furries, and called “glamouring” a really lame version of Jedi mind-tricks (“These are not the droids you are looking for…”)

Every twenty-two seconds, my mother felt the need to pause the show and explain the plot/character relationships to me so that I would have some semblance of understanding of what was going on. It went kind of like this:

Mom: Okay, that’s [random name of a character I didn’t bother to learn]. He’s a werewolf. And he’s hot. That guy is a changer, and she is the panther-chick. She wants to mate with [that other guy], but he doesn’t want to. Oh, look, there is a vampire there. She just got attacked by a witch, who is possessed by this other witch. OH MY GOODNESS SHE JUST MELTED HER FACE HAHAHAHAHAHA. And that’s Sookie.
Me: I know who Sookie is, Madre. I don’t live under a rock.
Mom: Oh, okay. Well she was dating Bill, but Eric always had the hots for her. Eric is the one that had that weird dominatrix-dungeon-thing in his basement.
Me: Got it.
Mom: Sookie and Bill broke up after Sookie spent 11 months with the fairies.
Me: I’m sorry, what now?
Mom: Well, she’s half fairy, so it made sense.
Me: [Face-palms]

I’m sorry, but in what world is the phrase “she’s a partial fairy” NORMAL?

What was worse was when I made a completely sane comment about the utterly ridiculous plot twists in this show and my mother said, “What? This isn’t nearly as bad as, like, Degrassi.

I resent that remark.

UPDATE: As I’m writing this my mother decides to turn on the same episode we were watching last night. It makes even less sense tonight than it did then.

UPDATE #2: My mother decided to read this over my shoulder (our iPad wasn't to her liking, I take it) and as she was laughing (yeah, I'm giving my comedic ability a lot of undue credit here) she kept pointing out errors in the True Blood plotline as I had it typed. THAT is how convoluted the story is - my notes were even confused, and I actually put some mental effort into those. SOS.

UPDATE #3: My mother has taken to saying "Don't judge me" as an excuse. I think she intends that as a way to mock me, but isn't imitation the highest form of flattery? (at least, that's what she's told me for 13 years about my little sister....yes, Mother, you've dug yourself a hole with this one)

July 24, 2011

The Dinosaur: Part III

The Dinosaur returneth!!!

It’s been three weeks, but my computer is back and better than ever. It works beautifully, it looks pretty, and get this – it booted up in less than three minutes. My friend was whining that it still took way too long to do anything, but I was amazed by the speed. Also amazing? His self-restraint in not downloading that evil plague that is Firefox onto my computer. Though I have been upgraded to ie8. I feel fancy.

So, to my friend:

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this is pointed.

There, with that being said I’m going to call it a night. Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode, when we get to discuss the lovely disease that is “True Blood.”

July 23, 2011


I went on a cruise to the Bahamas a little over a week ago. As many of you know, cruises are all about fun. Adults get wasted, kids go party, and we all eat as much as we can possibly take. And then some. I had a great time on my vacation – the other teens in O2 were amazing, the 24-hour ice cream and pizza were delicious, and the ice machine in the Lido buffet was fantastic (The ice was really good, okay? Don’t judge me.). And we ate a lot of food. Oh my stars, we ate a lot of food.

However, for those of you who don’t know, on the first day of a cruise, right as the ship is about to set sail, there is a mandatory safety briefing. On my last cruise, our muster station was in the bar. Yeah, we lucked out. This time we were in the giant lounge (a theater by any other name would be as Vegas-y), which did have one redeeming quality in the form of giant, comfy couches. All passengers must meet at their muster station where the crew teaches you how to use your life-vests (their lessons were nowhere near as entertaining as Southwest's), where to go in the event that the ship is sinking, and where the life boats are. And they aren’t messing around – the bars are closed. Oh yeah, they mean business. That being said, the crew does recognize that no one actually wants to go to these briefings. They try to make the brief as, well, brief as possible lest the guests become irritated and less willing to buy obscenely overpriced booze.

During the safety briefing, the crew at each muster station goes through the demonstrations while the Captain reads through the instructions on the intercom. After we were ushered out to our respective lifeboats, the Captain started reading the script for the second part of the briefing.

Captain: These are your lifeboats. The lifeboats are designed to hold between 100 and 150 passengers, depending upon the specific lifeboat. They have been specially designed for balance to avoid taking on water, and are unsinkable.

I’m sorry, WHAT???

Really now??? You just broke the cardinal rule of sailing! (The first is never get involved in a land war in Asia - only slightly less known is to never get involved in a battle of wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line.)

Have you never seen Titanic? The unsinkable boat that, well, SANK??? You NEVER describe a boat as unsinkable! That dooms it to, well, sink!

Let’s just say my confidence was a bit shaken after that.

July 22, 2011


I’m a nerd.

There, I admitted it. I know this may come as a shock to many of my adoring fans, but it is true. Alas, alack, and Aladdin. I have come to terms with this, and it is time you all did as well.

As I am a nerd, I enjoy doing dorky things. Like watching Star Trek reruns. And calculus. And playing Settlers of Catan. I think we’ve discussed my love of Settlers back in the early days of this blog. My mock trial coach is the person who initially introduced me to Settlers (and “BANG! The Bullet” for that matter), and to this day I have never won a game against him. I usually just settle (Haha, get it, settle? So punny.) for wreaking as much havoc on Catan as I possibly can. And making the longest road. Because of how I took to Settlers, my coach (who is singlehandedly the coolest person I know) insisted that I learn how to play Risk. However, he always failed to bring a Risk board on mock trial and history day trips. Sob sob.

This year, I got my first chance to play Risk in Calculus after the AP test. Our teacher insisted we be completely productive after AP testing – we worked studiously on new formulas and methods, and all managed to master Taylor polynomials and infinite limits with little effort.

JK dawg. Don’t get crazy now.

We watched movies. And played “BANG! The Bullet.” And ate food. AND played Risk one day.

First, I had never played before, nor had my partner (there were a lot of us that wanted to play, so all of the noobs got paired up. GO TEAM GREEN!) in years. Factor in my complete exhaustion, both physically and emotionally, and we can safely say that I had no idea what I was doing.

This is what I spent most of the game doing.
When I wasn't sabotaging Eastern Europe.

One of the best things about playing Risk in this generation is that alliances can be formed via text message. Of course, Robyn and I never carried through with these alliances. It was much more fun to ally, pretend, then screw the other person over. Sorry, Phillip.

My one hang-up throughout the whole game (when I was actually paying attention to the board and not my new action figures) was the size of Venezuela. And Russia. And frigging AFGHANISTAN.

You have to be kidding me.

To begin, that is barely the appropriate continent. You know what? I’ll let that slide. But the size? I’m sorry, but really now? Since when is Afghanistan physically large enough to take down Russia? (We’re completely ignoring those pesky little things like nuclear armament and pure, unadulterated rage) If you’re going to be THAT loose with geography, you might as well just make up your own countries/mythical land. At least then I would be able to play the game in peace.

Scratch that. Anybody up for a game of Settlers?

July 21, 2011

Letter #4

Dear all those Americans who drive (legally or illegally),

Hi there. I know we don’t have the best history. I haven’t always been the nicest to you in the past (generally because you tend to act like a giant tool or cut me off or go 30 in a 45 zone or insist that your giant SUV can fit in the compact spot therefore making the spots on either side unusable to those of us that actually drive compacts or – wait, sorry, that’s beside the point, no need to start pointing fingers…even though you drive like a blind 85 year old with a cotton swab for a brain), and I’m sorry if anything I’ve said has hurt your feelings or come across…strongly. No, that wasn’t yelling, I was just trying to make sure you heard me through the glass and stuff. And that was totally my ring finger, I was just, uh, checking to see that I still had my ring on…. Don’t question me!


So, I just thought I’d write you this friendly letter to check up on things. I want to make a fresh start. I feel like we could be great friends if we tried. Thus, I propose a clean slate. How are you? How’s the wife (or husband or significant other if you happen to have one – if not that’s cool too, bud) and kids? Did you get that promotion you were looking for?

There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? This looks to be the start of a beautiful friendship, built on mutual respect and understanding. Isn’t this nice?

So, friend, while we’re talking so openly, I just had one teensy thing I wanted to mention. It’s nothing major, don’t fret. It’s just –

No, don’t shut me out like that! This isn’t any sort of attack on your driving abilities, I promise. You just seem to be having a bit of trouble with the concept of four-way stops. Don’t worry; it happens to all of us. And as your new friend I felt it fitting that I be the one to bring this up, comrade. But there are a few things that we can use to fix this little issue.

1.       When I get to the four way stop first, I have the right of way.
2.       When we arrive at the same time and I am on the right, I have the right of way.
3.       When the car in front of you goes and I am next in line in my lane, I have the right of way.
4.       When my car is bigger than yours, I have the right of way.
5.       When I’m in a hurry, I have the right of way.
6.       When you don’t pay attention and decide to sleep through your turn, I have the right of way.
7.       When in doubt, I have the right of way.
8.       When I have the right of way, you best get out of the way.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Just two friends having a friendly chat and hashing out one friend’s idiocy in a nice, friendly fashion.


P.S. I swear to whatever deity you follow, if you cut me off one more time…

July 20, 2011

Harry Potter and the Failtastic Continuity

So, like the rest of the free world (excluding this guy ) I recently saw the newest installment in the Harry Potter franchise. I have been a devoted Potter fan since I was a wee tike, so you can imagine my disappointment when I found out that I was going to be in the Bahamas during the premiere. No, scratch that, you can’t. It was heart-wrenching. This was the one movie premiere I was to be permitted to go to (I have gone to three book premieres over the years, which were all incredibly enjoyable nerd events full of fantastic dorkdom). The night of the premiere all of the kids on the ship sat together for a moment so that we could all mourn our loss.

So, suffice it to say, after I got back to the States I made sure to get to a movie theater as fast as my feet (or, rather, my car) could carry me.

Now, I’m going to start by saying that I did in fact love the movie. I am completely loyal to the series, and I felt that this movie did all it could to do justice to JK’s vision. The cinematography and special effects were brilliant, and the acting was as flawless as it has always been. And McGonagall was a beast. The end.

I’d also like to establish here that, unlike the sheeple that populate the interwebs with their mindless drivel, I will not be complaining about the complete and utter awk that was Voldemort. Even though it was so, so awk. If you came here looking for a dissertation on the subject, I am sorry. If your heart is set on getting your fix of awkward Draco-Voldemort man-love, please enjoy the following video.

(Yes, that is ten minutes of the most awkward hug in the history of cinema on a continuous loop. You're welcome.)

That being said, there was this one teensy weensy little thing that bothered me, just a tiny bit.

THE @$*#&^%$#^*%&*$(&()$#&%()$#*()%$(*&(*%$ DIADEM.

I’m sorry, but really now?


That’s the ONE THING you decide to change?

That was one of my FAVORITE pieces of continuity in the books.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s how it went down:

In the sixth book, Harry goes to the Room of Requirement alone to get rid of the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book. While there, he starts to mess around (in a totally productive and plot-relevant way) with some of the, for lack of a prettier word, crap that generations of Hogwarts students have abandoned in their haste and general sloth. Let’s be honest, this place was basically the nasty-hole in which lazy teenagers got to dump their junk so as to avoid ever seeing ever again.

10 points for Dumbledore.

While Harry is being unproductive and ADD he picks up a seemingly innocuous tiara and puts it on top of a statue in the middle of the room for kicks and giggles. He then walks away, thinking nothing of it. Later, in the seventh book, Harry figures out that Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem is hidden in the room of requirement. In one of his few and fleeting moments of intelligence, he realizes that the tiara and the diadem are the same @#$(*U#@ thing, and this saves him the precious few seconds he needs to be ultimately successful.


I mean, come on? Who here actually remembered the tiara-statue thing from Book 6 when they were reading Deathly Hallows before the clue from the Grey Lady? If you say you do, you’re a dirty rotten liar and most likely a hipster.

So, as cool as that bit of literary continuity was, the movie producers/writers/directors/whatevers forgot or simply neglected to put the tiara-fiddling in the sixth movie. When it came time to release Deathly Hallows: Part II there was nothing to remind the people that the tiara SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE STATUE, so you know what those tools did?

They put it in a box. A frigging jewelry box. And had the horcrux just talk to Harry.

Yeah, that is lame. As lame as me on a dance floor.

It comes down to pure laziness. I mean, how easy would it be to have added six seconds of film to the sixth movie? Rather than one of the most awkward kisses of all time (again with the Potter awkwardness), we could have cut Ginny from the scene (or even her awful one liner of, “That can stay in here too, if you like” after she and Harry play a bit of tonsil-hockey) and added him messing around with a tiara and a statue while he was leaving. That much would have satiated me. But no.

So yeah, I’m a bit upset.

July 19, 2011

Emotional Housekeeping

Yesterday I went through the painful process of cleaning my room, something that really only happens once a year. Most other times I’m too busy to dedicate the necessary four or five days to the task, so I usually have to wait until summer or some other extended period of time in which I don’t have school. Don’t get me wrong, my room isn’t a pigsty by any definition of the word other than my mother’s (she, by the way, has asked that I emphasize that she has allegedly asked me to clean my room for two years – I beg to differ). It just had fallen into a bit of disarray since Academic New Year (the weekend of Robotics Kickoff and the first Mock Trial tournament, when we all sign an oath in our own blood promising not to get more than two hours of sleep each night on average – most likely I’ll post another day explaining this strange academic phenomenon), meaning that there were piles of textbooks, study books, binders, papers, assignments, and other miscellaneous crap strewn about my floor (in organized piles because, of course, I can be a slob, but I must be an OCD slob).

So, after certain events caused me to be unduly stressed, I began the cathartic process of violently attacking this mess. I began in one area – the disaster area between my TV and my desk – but as I proceeded to clean that I realized that there were a half dozen areas I would have to clean before I could appropriately organize that one location. It was a veritable domino effect of cleaning, and I still only got to about a third of the mess before sheer exhaustion ended my frenzy.

Let’s just say that by the end of this process I had four of those giant, black garbage bags full of stuff to get rid of (two trash, one donation, and one recycle – don’t worry, I made sure to separate all of the school papers for the recycling bin, I know you were worried). While my problems hadn’t gone away, they seemed a bit more manageable once my thinking space was less disorganized.

But in going through my room there were a few things that I found quite a lot of, and this caught my eye.

First: school stuff. I am a self-admitted academic hoarder. I found papers from 2005 and 2006 in my closet, notebooks from the early days of middle school, sheet music from years back, and worksheets dating back to when my handwriting still included little hearts over the i’s. In the spirit of fresh beginnings, I got rid of most of it. Admittedly, I had to go through it piece by piece and justify throwing it all away (“No, Kait, your 7th grade biology notebook will not come in handy when you’re in college, I promise you…”), and yet my heart still cried at the thought of all of those memories hitting the recycling plant and being turned into toilet paper. What this made me realize is that school is my life. Now, most people I know would say that this was obvious and refute any claim that this was still in question. I guess I was just in denial, then. My entire life is devoted to school, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing at this point. Yes, academic focus is important, but I’m reconsidering whether or not I’ve prioritized it more than other more important things like my relationships with people or my self-growth or my faith. I don’t know. These questions can’t be answered right now, given that it’s almost midnight and I’m not of the frame of mind to attack these kinds of issues from a rational standpoint, but they gave me a lot to think about.

Second: birthday cards. You wouldn’t believe the sheer volume of birthday cards, thank you cards, random letters, and congratulation cards I have kept over the years. I thought that during the last Great Bedroom Cleaning (it was Christmas 2009, if my memory serves me correctly) I got rid of most of those old cards, but apparently I missed some. Okay, a lot. What amused me wasn’t the fact that I had that many cards – the funny part was the name signed at the bottom of each card. These were girls who I used to be best friends with, or so I thought. Nowadays they wouldn’t talk to me if someone paid them, and, to be honest, I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk to them either. It’s funny how people can change so much in so few years. Hey, that’s puberty for you. But it wasn’t all bad. I found a card from my best friend who moved here from South Korea in the fifth grade. The note made me smile – she had written it right after coming here, when she only knew how to say a few things in English and was just hoping for a friend. I’ve pulled the letter out a few times since, just because it reminds me that there are genuinely kind people out there, if you’re willing to look hard enough.

Third: art supplies. I guess when I was little I was convinced that if I just tried hard enough I would magically turn into the next Picasso and be some sort of splendiferous child prodigy, traveling across the world and earning obscene amounts of money while people regularly discussed my genius. Ha. I know better now.

Fourth: books. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t throw any of these away, but I have a feeling you can all understand that.  

Fifth: McDonald’s toys. I’m not kidding. You don’t even want to know.

I found a lot more than just those five, things I could probably write another six or seven page-long blog post about if I were to have the time or the motivation, but those were what really made an impression on me. Going through half a childhood’s worth of accumulated crap made me realize that there are a lot of things I’ve wasted my time on a lot of things over the years, made a lot of mistakes, and had a lot of regrets. But there were a few things that reminded me why I keep trying, like my friends. I don’t deserve how amazing they are, but I know I am going to continue to try to show them the kindness and love they have showed to me. While I may never be able to do for them what they have done for me, I can only hope that one day something I have done will make a difference.

Note to reader: Dang this post was long. Sorry about that. If you were looking for something funny, I’m sorry. I’m not myself tonight, and Not Myself isn’t very hilarious - in fact, she tends to be overly reflective and mopey, which is what leads to self-indulgent blogging like this. I’ll try again tomorrow night, after I’ve gotten some sleep. In the meantime, if you want some giggles read this or maybe this. They always make me smile.

If that doesn’t work to make you laugh, this picture should:

July 18, 2011

The Dinosaur: Part II

As many of you know, the Dinosaur recently went to the "shop" while I was on vacation with the goal that it would hopefully become less failtastic while I was gone. A Herculean task, but one that my friend was convinced he could handle. I warned him repeatedly, yet he insisted he was up to the challenge. That poor, sad, naïve boy. Yesterday, after I got back from the Bahamas, I went to go check up on the lovely piece of plastic.

I think the Dinosaur broke my friend.

Let’s just say that my Facebook wall has a steady stream of wall posts from him whining and crying about my computer, which apparently is not up to his standards.

I walked into his house and saw my beloved computer plugged into a half dozen different cords and plugs. He opened up the laptop, complained about how the hinges like to close randomly on your hand (yeah, I kind of forgot to mention that to him beforehand….), and suddenly loaded Ubuntu. On my computer. After I raged at him for defiling my computer with that, I noticed something funny: the Dinosaur booted up in less than a minute. After I regained my powers of speech (and asked him if he weighed the same as a duck) we began to look at the computer, its progress, and what had worsened since it had entered his care.

As we tried to load any program we could (our goal was to back up my files) he got increasingly angry at my laptop. It took less time to boot up than I was used to, which apparently was still not good enough for him. He then raged at how long it took to load anything and insisted that because my hard drive has only 40 usable gigs what I have is not a “real computer – it just pretends.” My friend had a look in his eyes that clearly expressed a desire to get his murder on, Office Space-style.

The Dinosaur then jumped up from the table and swallowed my friend whole into a writhing vortex of wires and RAM for insulting the Dinosaur’s technological value.

The end.

Okay, not really, but whatever.

Point being, this is where the Dinosaur is: I need to back up all of my files onto an external drive so that he can basically gut the Dinosaur and reinstall all of my programs, Windows, and my old files.  Supposedly, the Dinosaur will run faster as a result. However, I have made it clear that there are two things that must be kept safe on my computer: my music and my Internet Explorer.

Don’t judge.

I will update with the Dinosaur's progress when I visit my poor computer again soon. It is so scared in my friend's hands - the Dinosaur feels threatened, and justly so. Poor thing.

I promise you, my ie7 looks nothing like this.

July 17, 2011

Hipster Heaven

As many of you know, I recently traveled to the Deep South for a family vacation. Though I have many stories about my adventures south of the Mason-Dixon Line, as many of you also know I am currently sans Dinosaur (If you are confused read my older post entitled "The Dinosaur" - although I do know how to embed a link in a post, the iPad in all of its glory will not let me, meaning you all will have to go to the extra effort of actually finding the button on your own or just scrolling down two posts. Yes, your lives are so hard.), meaning that I am unable to properly type and write. Also, seeing as my stories run the risk of being offensive to certain involved parties, if I ever stumble upon the chesticular fortitude to post any of my stories, you will be the first to know.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this picture, which will most definitely go down in history as the most epic hipster picture of my life. If only I was wearing prescription-less, horn-rimmed glasses and something vintage. Wait, my mainstream outfit is ironic, which is way more hipster. Win.

Dear Hipsters,
You know I love you. I am secretly one of you (albeit, self-loathing). But so long as there are hipsters, I will poke fun. Just know it is all in good fun. No, please don't leave me, I miss you so!
Love always, Kait

July 8, 2011

You sure do talk funny.

I don't have an accent.

I promise you. I really don't. But people from other states definitely do.

Shut up. I talk normally.

It always baffles me when I go to other states and (after I open my mouth) locals and/or other tourists look at me like I'm "not from around these parts." Which I'm not. Okay, fine. I've heard a theory that the California accent is the "American accent" because we have Hollywood here, meaning that movie stars/actors/newscasters/etc. all strive and struggle to make their voices sound like ours. Kind of a win, if you're not a hipster. If you are...shut up, no one cares, you dirty hipster. Go back to your Modest Mouse and PBR. (I'm just kidding - I love you, please come back)

Though it's become increasingly evident to me that our slang differs just as much, if not more, in different locales. When I was at Girls State, we spent a good few hours exchanging different slang based on if we were from the northern, central, or southern part of the state. I was in awe to see that the way we talk differs so much in just 100 geographic miles.

After spending a good week trying in vain to teach a girl from my "city" what "hecka" means and how to use it, I decided to put this to the test in my adventures in other parts of the country. Which brings us to my recent adventures in the grit-eatin', gun-totin', drawl-talkin' South. A few weeks ago I visited South Carolina. This, of course, meant me swallowing my liberalist agenda, sweating bullets, shutting my mouth on political issues, and tearfully leaving my "Obama Girl" tank top back home. I know - I miss it, too. But while at dinner I was talking with my family and the server (we'll call him Elliot because I like that name) when a piece of Southern slang came out of his mouth. The look on my face was one of utter confusion. The subsequent conversation went something like this:

Elliot: That's dank.
Me: What?? "Dank?" Like "dark and dank?" Is that supposed to mean something good?
Elliot: You haven't heard someone use "dank" before? Where are you from?
Me: I'm from California, and no, I can't say that I have. What about "hecka"? Do you say "hecka" around here?
Elliot: Wait, what? What is that? Hecka? I have heard a couple of guys at the college I went to say it, but whenever they do I say that it's "hecka lame."
Me: Don't bash on my beloved Cali slang. "Flossy?" Have you heard that one before? That's from WAY WAY WAY NorCal.
Elliot: That's janky, we don't say that.
Me: Janky? What is that?
Elliot: It's like whack. What the crap is "flossy?" Is it like dank or cool or tight?
Me: Yeah, it's like "that's hecka tight" or "that's hecka flossy."
Elliot: I don't believe you.

The rest of the meal was filled with random intervals of one of us remembering some obscure piece of slang that we use (I introduced "uber," "derp," and "noob" to him) and shouting to the other one. It was hilarious and entertaining but definitely a culture clash. When the check came, it included a customer survey. I hijacked the survey and pen from my parents and, after complimenting the delicious food (If you're ever in South Carolina, definitely go to Gilligan's. It's fantastic and the hush puppies are to die for.) I proceeded to fill out the "Comments" section as follows:

"Derp. This food was awesome. Elliot is uber flossy and hecka dank. He was most definitely not janky nor a noob."

We put the survey in the check and started to walk out of the restaurant. As we did, we ran into another employee and started to chat because, well, that's what we do in my family. I was still laughing about the slang thing when the other employee looked at me and said, "That was you? Elliot came out here five minutes ago to tell us we had to start saying "flossy" and "derp." Haha, that's hilarious!" I continued to crack up and my family began to walk away. As we were crossing the street I looked behind me at the restaurant's entrance to see Elliot race out of the restaurant to show the comment card to the other employee. The guys saw me and we all laughed for some time.

Moral of the story? If you live in South Carolina and start hearing people say "derp," "flossy," "uber," "hecka," or "noob," you're welcome. I have left my mark on Southern society.

July 6, 2011

The Dinosaur

In the last few months (okay, years), I have been the subject to more than my fair share of mockery by my Robotics/programming/otherwise techie friends. This all started one day in AMA (pre-calc or trig, by other schools’ standards) when the teacher inadvertently showed his desktop and browser window to the class while attempting to project a PowerPoint.

Now, normally when I write I use “him or her” to represent a singular person of unspecified gender (an subsequently unspecified identity) so as to try to avoid using “they” as a personal pronoun (because it’s not). Yeah, I’m a grammar freak. But for the purposes of this story, “him or her” is really pointless. All of the programmers in this story are guys. All of the Robotics people in this story are guys. All of the otherwise techie friends in this story are guys. Ladies, we need to get it together.

So, the teacher shows us his internet browser. The following few seconds went something like this:

Techie Friend #1: Nice toolbars, there.
Techie Friend #2: Wow, look at that. The toolbars fill up half the browser window. Way to win.
Teacher: Shut up.
                [Okay, he didn’t really say that because he likes his job. But he thought it really loudly.]
Techie Friend #2: [to Techie Friend #1] Dude, he’s still on ie7.
Techie Friend #1: Does he not know that there are new Internet Explorer versions out there? Or Firefox? Or other numerous superior browsers out there?
Techie Friend #2: [laughs]
Me: … But I use ie7….it’s way better than the other browsers….guys……
Techie Friends #1 and #2: [combination of laughter and mockery]

And so began a year and a half of relentless ridicule.

I’m sorry, I like Internet Explorer. Firefox is too streamlined and Chrome looks like some shoddy programming a seven-year-old came up with. I am a creature of habit, and ie7 is what makes sense to me. Also, it’s really fun to watch these guys twitch when I tell them that I am on ie7 and they can’t make me update. (Although despite what I normally tell my techie friends, I actually would update to ie9 if I could. More on that in a second.)

The piece of shoddy plastic that I lovingly refer to as “The Dinosaur” and attempt to pass off as a computer isn’t really that old. We’ve only had it about four and a half years, and for the first two and a half years of that the computer was barely being used and it was in pretty good shape.

Then the computer became mine, and it’s been downhill since then.

I love my computer, I really do. It has spunk and spirit, and it tries really, really hard to be a real, working computer. (Picture Pinocchio crying out, “I’m a real boy!”)

But it really can’t. Let’s put it this way: my computer takes, on average, twelve minutes to boot up. That’s two minutes to get to the log-in window, two minutes for it to boot up, three minutes for me to realize that the computer has frozen mid-startup, one minute for me to hard-crash it, and four minutes for me to restart it. Then it takes another five minutes to open up an internet browser. My battery lasts about twenty minutes. Every couple weeks my computer tells me that my hard disk is out of memory, and as a result I can’t download any updates or new programs. The chassis is falling apart, and the computer basically cries whenever I ask it to do more than one simple task at a time.

This boots up faster that the Dinsaur.

But it tries really hard. I give it pep talks and encouragement whenever I can, but I sometimes lapse and my rage peeks through. I can’t help it.

I guess the guys thought I was exaggerating when I described the Dinosaur. Today I dropped off my computer with Classmate #2 because he has been itching to try to fix it for months now and I finally got around to letting him (mostly because I want to upload close to a thousand pictures from Girls State, leadership camp, graduation, my birthday, etc.). The scene was very similar to one you would see when a new babysitter shows up to take care of a group of youngsters for the first time. He (the babysitter) looked at the computer (the youngster) like it was something he was completely capable of managing over the next few days. I (the parent) looked at him like he was crazy. I begged him not to laugh me in the face when he saw the shoddy state my hard disk is in, and I then proceeded to go through the laundry list of things he needed to know about operating my computer – the ticks, the problems, the tricks to get it to pseudo-work – and I could see that with every new item on the list his eyes got wider and his morale sank. This was the point when the babysitter realized he is in way over his head. Not that he is a bad programmer or that he isn’t capable – I wouldn’t have given him the Dinosaur if he weren’t capable of fixing it somehow – it’s just that this is a behemoth task, and I recognize that.

I think my computer will be giving him nightmares for years to come.

July 5, 2011

Soundtrack for Summer 2011

Because I’m a giant, walking cliché. And I love good music.

1. “Cosmic Love” – Florence + the Machine
2. “Let the Rain” – Sara Bareilles
3. “Happier” – A Fine Frenzy
4. “Quelqu’un M’a Dit” – Carla Bruni
5. “New Soul” – Yael Naim
6. “We are Golden” – Mika
7. “There Goes the Fear” – Doves
8. “Daylight” – Matt & Kim
9. “Deer in the Headlights” – Owl City
10. “Are You There_” – bare! A Pop Opera Original Cast Recording
11. “I Woke Up in a Car” – Something Corporate
12. “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” – Regina Spektor
13. “Happily Ever After” – He is We
14. “Come on Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
15. “Into the Airwaves” – Jacks Mannequin
16. “Voldemort is Going Down” – AVPM
17. “Typical” – Cartel
18. “Bittersweet Symphony” – the Verve
19. “Take on Me” – a-ha
20. “Symphonies” – Dan Black
21. “Hard Times Come Again No More” – composed by Stephen Foster, sung by Eclipse

What's wrong?

Every once in a while I will be talking and, without much thought, some innocuous colloquialism or phrase will come out of my mouth. These can be regular phrases like “what’s up?” or “are you okay?” or “I’m all right.” But rather than accepting these little phrases as just idiomatic expressions (which they are), I will spend hours pondering them, their meanings, their origins, their connotations. English continues to baffle me on a daily basis.

I know. I’m cool. Get over it.

I was recently talking with someone – or, rather, I was attempting to start up a conversation with said person who was instead making things incredibly difficult and being obscenely non-responsive not like I’m still ragey about that or anything – and this person was acting out of colour (yes, the “u” is necessary) for him. So, being this person’s friend, I instinctively asked him, “What’s wrong?” The moment I did this, my brain went into Grammar Mode.

I started to think about the question “What’s wrong?” It doesn’t mean literally, “What’s wrong?” as in “What is incorrect?” Colloquially it means about the same as “Are you okay?” But there is so much more to it.

What really hit me was the implication, the tacit layer underneath the topical meaning of the phrase. I realized that, unconsciously, I only ever ask question this to people I care about – everyone else gets the traditional, “Are you okay?” (I feel like someone is going to read this and then realize that they only ever get “Are you okay?” and their feelings are going to be hurt and I will feel awful and I’ll never forgive myself. Oh wait, no one reads my blog. Win.) While asking someone “What’s wrong?” is just a way of trying to figure out what’s going on with a person to cause them to be upset or simply less than their best, it’s more than that. The phrase implies that someone or something is not right.

You aren’t right.

Morally, there is a fairly distinguishable line between right and wrong. Being kind to others is right. Murder is wrong. Cut and dry, right? In school, the difference between right and wrong is even clearer. 2+2=4 is right. 2+2=5 is wrong (except for really big values of 2).

But how are you right? Or, for that matter, how are you wrong?

If we ask how a person can be right or wrong, things get murky.

“Wrong” is defined, among other things, as “not proper or usual…out of order; awry; amiss….an injustice.”

“What’s wrong?” is asking what is causing you or something to be amiss or out of order. It is asking what has caused things to be not as they should be. If something is right, it is the way it should be. What is right is you, you being you. For the people I care about, the way you should be is the person I see, the person who shows me on a daily basis his or her incredible courage or intellect or compassion or kindness or simple propensity toward the silly and absurd, even if other people don’t see it. And it is an injustice for you to be anyone but yourself, for you to not show the world for even a moment the incredible person that you are. I see you, and I see your potential and talent and ability, even when you don’t.

When I ask you “What’s wrong?” I want you to know that I care. I want you to know that you matter to me. I want you to know that I see something in you that is worrying me. I want you to know that I see something is amiss that is causing you to be less than you. I want you to know that I will do anything to make it better or fix it or rectify it or simply kick it until it is better because you deserve nothing but the best. I want you to know that I am here for you. And I want you to tell me what is going on. Don’t say, “I’m fine.” That’s a lie. You’re not fine, because you are not being you, and you are what is right.

You are right.

Sorry I just subjected you to that. I promise I’ll write something funny tomorrow.

July 4, 2011

Letter #3

Dear California Girls State and Staters 2011

I don’t think I can ever explain to anyone who wasn’t there what Girls State meant to me. I have tried, but it usually just ends up resulting in me tripping over my words and becoming overly excited about some small anecdote or just beaming from ear to ear while my audience looks at me as though I am clinically insane. I’m sure some of you have experienced the same phenomenon. For each of us, this last week is something special that we want to convey and explain to anyone with a working set of ears, but I’m realizing that it is something that you truly need to experience to understand. Words simply cannot do it justice. Words cannot explain how much fun I had and how much I learned while I was there. Words cannot express the way it changed my life. Words cannot describe how powerful and strong and independent I felt there. Words cannot communicate how I felt being a voice for the collective. Words cannot represent how Girls State gave me faith in the future and hope for a better tomorrow. Words cannot articulate the unconditional love I felt from everyone there. Words cannot convey the emotional bond I made with my city sisters, with my county, with my party, with my state.

So instead of trying to explain to others what this last week meant to me, I will explain it to you. After all, you deserve all of the praise and accolades in the world. I know this small letter will never be able to completely give you all of the thanks you deserve, but it's a start.

Girls State taught me to stand up for myself, to accept my own personal worth and value. I learned that, as a young woman, I have strength enough to handle anything. Girls State made me feel strong and proud and beautiful and independent. It took me less than a day from leaving to realize this in action. I oftentimes don’t treat myself as though I’m worth something. I let people walk over me because I cared about them or made excuses for them or simply didn’t have the guts to stand up for myself.

However, after my experience, I now know that I owe it to myself to guard my independence and advocate for my own future, my own happiness. I am stronger than I know, and Girls State helped me to realize that I do have worth and potential and that I am capable of making the change I want to see in the world. You all helped me to see this. I started last week feeling like just another girl about to get lost in the crowd. But over time, as I was elected and appointed and as I made new friends and was afforded opportunities I will never see again in this lifetime, you all made me feel like I had a voice. I cannot convey how honored I was to be elected to represent my city, or how touched I was at the sheer number of Staters that sought me out to congratulate me or simply reached out to be my friend. Girls State was one of the most welcoming and loving environments I have ever had the privilege to be part of. I hope I made you all feel as cared for as you did me. Know that if you every need anything – help, a confidante, advice, or just a friend – I am always here for all of you.

So while I may struggle and times may be difficult, I know that I have the 2011 Staters behind me. Even as my world may fall apart, I know that I have 473 beautiful girls who will help me to pick up the pieces (and use blue tape to try to put them back together). Your kindness is something I greatly admire, and right now, that thought alone calms the knots in my stomach and makes me feel like things are going to be okay. I love and admire each and every one of you, and I hope that one day in your time of need I can help give you the strength you have all given to me. For the rest of my life, Girls State will always be a memory that, when brought out of my pocket like a worn photograph and gingerly unfolded, will never fail to bring a smile to my face.

So, in short, thank you all. You are all in my heart and in my prayers, and I will never forget you.

Sparkle fingers for everyone,