Thursday, May 31, 2012

Moby Dick


I did it! I read 92% of Moby Dick today.

The awesome part of it is that I read the last sixty percent in the last six hours of the day. It's really lovely to be able to sit down, have an estimate of how long the reading should take, and then have to work at it. It's really easy to say you have three hours to finish so-and-so book. It's completely different when you know you are able to finish so-and-so book in three hours.

So today was a really, really productive day. I finished Chapter 2 of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, talked to some people on the writing chat, told the young woman we're meeting in South Africa where the hotel is, checked FaceBook, checked e-mail, bored myself quite a lot until 11… ate breakfast (French toast and lemon tea), and then started reading Moby Dick at 12.

By 6:01pm I'd only gotten through 31% of the book. The deadline for Moby Dick is at 12am on the 1st of June. It counts for a challenge in my reading group, and while I said I was going to read it I was a tad bit lazy and didn't exactly apply myself to it. So at 6 I calculated the number of pages I'd have to read to finish by 12am. And I started reading. By 7:30 or so I was ahead of schedule, so I went to dinner. At 8:45 I was about 20 minutes behind schedule, so I took a very quick shower, recalculated, and started reading again.

And, thanks to the fact that 1% of the book is random whaling quotes, and thanks to the fact that Ishmael goes on and on and on about nothing of really important interest to the story, I finished at 11:43pm. 

The good thing about all this is that I finished Moby Dick, and I now know without a doubt about how many iPod pages I can read in three hours— about 500. (So from 200-300 printed pages). Which is going to help quite a lot in June, when I'll be reading for the reading group's toppler.

In about 3 minutes it's going to be June 1st, but I'm going to go to sleep, set the alarm for 7, and then wake up and start writing. I have no idea how the book's going to start… and I have no idea how it's going to end, but I know at least five scenes from the middle, I've got a semi-coherent story line… and I know that Emeli, the main character, is going to turn from a spoiled brat into a pretty independent young woman. 

While there's lots of big changes coming up in our lives in the next few weeks (we're changing continents! A great deal of culture! Religion, to be certain!), there will definitely be posts full of writing information. Don't worry! This is only a June, August, and November occurence!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Uluwatu


We moved. Again. This time to Uluwatu. It's a pretty restaurant, this place called The Gong. It has a book exchange, but when Ioan looked through he told me he hadn't found a single interesting book. Then he said something about James Joyce.

"Where?" I said.

Ioan brought out A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Now, I have to explain something. I'm on a time-limit to finish Moby Dick. I'm at chapter 9 of 135. So what did I do? I started the James Joyce book. I'm at page 65 of 247. It's very interesting. I don't think I'll finish Moby Dick by the end of tomorrow, unless I set aside six hours (at least) for the job.

It actually should be doable. Practice for the toppler.

I've got a cover idea for Perfume, which is fantastic, I have even more insight into the novel, and I can barely wait for 7am on the 1st of June. (I'm not staying up late. I'd collapse at 9pm if I did).

But onto more important things.

We headed off to a temple something-or-other, which also harbors monkeys. The signs say to be careful of shiny things, hats, glasses, earrings, etc. We promptly took off any sort of ornament except our glasses and my watch.

As we entered the temple complex, and were looking at the monkeys from a 'safe' distance, one monkey jumped toward Ioan from a number of feet away, stole his glasses right off his nose, and walked away.

Dad started running after him. 4/5 people in this family have abhorrent vision. Mine is the worst, and Ioan's is the best, and we do have replacement glasses… but still.

A park ranger ran after the monkey after everyone there yelled at Dad to stop running after the monkey.

I don't know what the rangers DO, exactly… I know I saw one in Ubud with a slingshot, so perhaps they slingshot the monkeys into throwing back the glasses? Or perhaps they give them a bit of food? Anyway, the ranger came back with Ioan's glasses, with not even a scratch on them. Everyone took off their glasses after that, and Mom and I peered around trying to figure out what everyone was looking at. It was pretty interesting. The only times I take my glasses off are at night and when I'm groundfighting or sparring. Which means that in the day time, the last time I took my glasses off was seven and a half months ago.

Seven and a half months! 

I went to the Princeton Review website today to update the info on that too, as they send me a great deal of emails about a great deal of colleges, and I'm finally able to curtail quite a few of them. The internet gave out about that time… but I find it really interesting that one of the things that's slowly becoming 'interesting' and 'important' is this college nonsense. Now I know what I'm going to study, the questionnaires actually MAKE SENSE!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anticipation


Nothing of interest happened whatsoever today. I replied to e-mails, read a bit of Moby Dick, watched 10 Things I Hate About You

Oh, wait!

I realized today that since I know what I want to do with my life before kids, I can actually start planning which SAT IIs to take, which colleges, etc.

The SAT test dates are in March, May, and June, which means that I have enough time to study, decide, etc. I just wanted to get a bit of an extra headstart, so I decided to look up the test dates, figure out what sort of things I need to study for psychiatry (advanced mathematics is included on the list), and filled out some of the questionnaires on the ACT site. Last February, when I filled these out, my major and career were Undecided, with an "I'm very sure about this decision." Now… it's Pre-Med.

I find it really stupid, though, that while you can select Pre-Dentistry, Pre Veterinary, Chiropractic, Nursing, etc, but that when you want to be an actual, certified, medical doctor (not counting dentists), you can only select pre-med. These people DO KNOW that medicine is an incredibly LARGE field of study, right? But it's probably because pre-med is just a general term, and because there's four more years of school after college. (Or University).

I kind of want to get home so I can start working at this. But… (don't laugh, Dad) it's kind of like having a baby. Mom told me that when she was pregnant with me, Dad couldn't wait for me to be born. But it's good to wait. It gives you time to think, to plan ahead, to not go ahead with the first decision that pops into your mind (once, after a long period of not sleeping very well— ie exhaustion— I actually decided to go to France to study medicine), and to actually get used to the idea.

It's like waiting to write this novel. I've got two more days before I can type in Perfume, Chapter 1. But this is good, even if it doesn't feel like it. I have more time to ruminate on it, more time to think over the plot troubles that will hit me on the 6th or so, more time to figure out what the setting is like, more time to start getting a feel of what the characters are like and what motivates them, more time to think through all the pitfalls. When I get to them, they'll seem enormous, but I'll have been subconsciously working through the story so long that it'll be much easier than if I jumped into the story now.

So while I want to go home so I can be a 'proper highschooler,' I can't go yet. I've got to anticipate it. I've got to be able to plan out things before I jump into the work load. If I do jump in, I'll be so preoccupied with working I won't know where I'm going. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pizza Hut


We started out on an adventure at 5:45pm this afternoon. Mom and Dad had gone to see the sunset, and Ioan, Ileana and I wanted to go to Pizza Hut to have stuffed crust pizza.

We might not have gone though, if Dad had not expressly threatened us if we didn't go eat.

So we set off, me in my punjabi, Ileana in her orange shirt and purple sarong (bad idea). Everyone was saying 'hello!' to us (us girls), and we were ignoring them, trying not to yell something obscene. At Tae Kwon Do we wouldn't mind telling the boys what's what, but here… not a good idea. Someone tried to sell Ioan sunglasses and deviate Ileana into looking at them. She sidestepped and made the guy laugh. 

It took about fifteen minutes to get to Pizza Hut. I asked if we should sit down and just then a waitress came to seat us— Ioan and Ileana had disappeared into a completely different direction. We have to work on sticking together in restaurants.

Finally we got together and were seated in a non-smoking area. The waitress gave us our menus, explained what they said (mostly it was in Indonesian), said a great deal of things I couldn't understand, (we already knew what we wanted to order, but decided to keep the menu so we could look through and see if there were any interesting appetizers)… I smiled and nodded, pretended to understand, and then, when she'd left (after saying something that sounded like 'need anything please ask me,' with a sort of all-encompassing gesture like she was drawing us close, and then a half of a 'namaste' salute and a curtsey, all at the same time), I said to Ileana and Ioan, "I didn't understand a word."

Two more waitresses came to ask us if we were ready to order, with the same, 'if you need anything please ask me' gesture. I hate being waited on. I always feel awkward about it. We ordered deluxe cheese with stuffed crust, two waters, and garlic bread. A man brought the pizza, served us each the first slice, and then left us alone to enjoy it. I loved stuffed crust.

We finished the food (delicious), helped the waitress stack everything onto the tray (Dad laughs at us when we do this… but it's all Mom's fault for making us mostly considerate people), and then got up to pay. Ioan has to learn a bit about handling money, but I didn't say anything.

We left, walked a bit, and then decided to cross the street. Holding hands, Ioan and Ileana looked in one direction and I looked in the other. No break in cars. Then a police man in a reflective vest approached. "You want to cross the street?" he asked.

"Yes please." I said.

He stopped all the cars in five seconds, we crossed the street, said thank you, and walked home.

"Don't you just love policemen!" I exclaimed.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Planning, Waiting, Drawing


We decided to stay in the hotel next to the airport for another night… so Ioan and Dad went out to learn to surf (Ioan to surf, Dad to photograph). Ileana went down to the book exchange to ask if it really was a book exchange.

We took The Hobbit (on the high school reading list, unlike Pride and Prejudice), Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela's memoirs), and The Host (which was better than Twilight).

And about that… Jane Austen wrote classics. CLASSICS. None of her work is on the high school reading list. It makes me quite angry. (Also, where is the Russian literature? Crime and Punishment isn't too long.)

Okay. Off that subject, because I kind of let today flutter away, planning a bit of Perfume, figuring out a drawing style (it's going to be illustrated— The Book of a Thousand Days influenced it quite a bit), drawing a few pictures (there might not be time in June), deciding not to finish Romanul Adolescentului Miop (there's reading it and thinking "Finally, it's over" at the end, or not reading it and thinking, "Finally, it's over!" I'm just saving myself some time), and reading Siddhartha.

Which is fantastic, by the way. I think it's the writing style, but at the same time it's also the plot and the journey of Siddhartha. But I think it's the writing style— that has so much importance in the interest of the book.

I also planned out June's toppler— I'll be finishing a few books off the high school reading list (Hamlet, Cyrano de Bergerac, and The Hobbit).

I know this is of no interest to anyone, so I'll try to talk about something else for the other 200 words of this.

Ioan went surfing today! I didn't see him in real life, but I did see the pictures, and he looks fantastic crouching on the board, even if he doesn't have proper form yet. He bumped his knee on the surfboard, so he's been 'OWing' a bit, but he did get ice cream for himself and pizza (with stuffed crust!) for all the rest of us, so I suppose that makes up for quite a lot of pain. I think he'll be going again tomorrow before we switch hotels again. I'm not sure where we're going tomorrow, but we will be moving all our incredibly stuffed bags (even if there's only three fifths of them with us) to some other location.

Oh! And Dad and I played Table Tennis on the iPad. He won the first game 9-8, the second 9-5, and the third I won 8-9. I figured out my winning strategy, but I won't say anything, except that it's much easier to concentrate on where the ball is going with this particular strategy. Ioan wanted to play the winner, but it was already pretty late. (Besides, chess is his and dad's realm).

I can't wait till June! It feels like everything will be so much simpler then, even if I'll have a 'busier' schedule.

The picture:

This was conceived as two people dancing at a wedding. The embroidery on their clothes is believed to work as protection.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Planning Perfume


We're in Bali again… yay!

It's 12:34 am. I finished The Sun Also Rises in the Jakarta airport. Somewhere someone understands what makes this book special. It was all lost on me. Except that I like the style. It's simple, straightforward, and doesn't go on about anything except what the characters do… and that's a bit like a Dick and Jane book. 

But moving past Hemingway. I started The Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale, next. It's based on an obscure fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and takes place in medieval Mongolia.

And, suddenly, as I was reading it, Perfume, which was supposed to take place in a world something like early 19th century England (with no bleeding of patients), slowly changed into something slightly more South East Asian… and then directly into a world like the Tibetan plateau. Which I can guarantee would never have happened had we not taken this trip. If the location of the novel had decided to change, it would change into something like Mongolia— nomadic with fantastic horseback riders and everything. Instead… Tibet.

Someone asked me in November if I am using what we encounter (both places and events) in my writing. I said something along the lines of,

"No, because I don't like writing from the real world— I like making things up as I go and being able to chalk up discrepancies to: 'It's a fantasy world, and I was still creating it during the writing,' and ridiculous conclusions to, 'That's the way it is here.' So while everything I see on the trip is stored somewhere in my subconscious and will probably surface later in a strange way… I don't set out saying: 'I'll write something about China.'"

So Tibet has surfaced. I'm pretty sure the climate will be something like Lhasa. There will be yaks and few clouds. People will sometimes journey to and from the Nepal-like country down a winding mountain road, and over a river onto another winding mountain road, to trade embroidered carpets and tapestries and clothes and to bring back silks, spices, and the vodka-like liquid that the inhabitants of this land drink a small amount of every night to keep 'fire in their bones.' They worship thirteen different spirits, a bit like Japan, and set out offerings every night in front of every entrance into the home (like Bali, which sets out small offerings every day of bamboo baskets with incense, flowers, and a bit of rice). 

The entryways are raised, to stop evil intentions from coming in, like in China. The doors are low to force people to bow down when they enter, as a sign of respect, like in Tibet. They wear an overcoat with a sash, like in Balinese traditional clothing, (but without the sarong).

And it's even possible they have no words for numbers above three, because numbers are sacred. Instead, they point to a certain knuckle on one of three fingers, like the Australian Aboriginals.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Pink Sarong


FreeBooks blocked on me yesterday— a true catastrophe since it's the most-used app on my iPod, and the books on it aren't available anywhere else without a great deal of going out of my way— something I'm not eager to do. Dad and I tried to fix it, but it didn't work. So I waited a bit longer, deleted it, and then we'll transfer the info back on and hope that since the problem book is closed everything will function just fine.

Anyway. We slept in a bit today— till 8:30, and went to see Prambanan at 12pm. It's a large temple complex more than anything— three larger temples for Shiva, Brahhma, and Vishnu, as well as their vehicle animals. It was almost destroyed in the 2006 earthquake.

While it was impressive, it wasn't anything special. There are scenes from the Ramayana in bas-relief, and the Shiva temple was still closed off for repairs. We walked around, took pictures, looked at the deer outside the temple, stayed well away from the cassowary, and then walked out of the temple complex to find a taxi.

We saw a bazaar instead though, and so I began looking for a sarong (my blue one is so old it's ripping). We found a hot pink one with a black design of dolphins and yin-yang symbols. The girl asked 200,000 Rupiahs but we got her down to 50,000 Rupiahs merely by saying, "Oh! Too much!" and "We'll get it in Ubud for 50,000, thank you very much." In thirty seconds I had the sarong for 50,000.

Ileana found herself some sunglasses and we started walking in the hot, heavy heat to find a taxi.

Some motorcycle taxis offered, but with five people they smiled and backed off. A few people with rickshaws (these ones are small love seats attached to the front of a motorcycle or possibly bicycle— I didn't get a good look). Even horse-drawn carriages (and the horses here are longer and more elegant than the Balinese ones). We turned them all down, and finally located a car that must be 25 years old— rusted, with one of those huge steering wheels. It went very slowly, but that way we got to see all the signs:

Ayam Goreng, Betut Goreng, Soto Ayam, etc. (Fried Chicken, Fried Duck, Chicken Soup, respectively.)

We reached home and I finished off a shorter story I've been working on, then plotted out a bit more of my Camp NaNoWriMo novel (only one week left!). I can't wait for June.

We take off to Bali again tomorrow… hopefully we'll manage to locate a book exchange and be able to exchange the five books everyone in the family has read. 

The cool thing about the hotel we're in is that it has really good prawn crackers and it's so close to the airport you can hear the planes take off— literally a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bandying About Borobudur


My alarm this morning was set at top volume for 4am… but Ileana was the one who turned it off, and the extent of my exertion at 4am was to get up and sensibly turn on the very bright ceiling light so we wouldn't fall asleep (and I'm not sure it worked perfectly either).

One of the men from the hotel guided us to the temple (it's about two minutes away on foot). We climbed up to the top using the flashlights they gave us… all the way to the tip tip top, which we reached at about 4:30am…

And then spent quite some time looking for Ileana… who had been sitting quietly on a stone waiting for the camera… and then went off looking for Mom, thus prompting a sort of wild goose chase as we tried to locate her in time for the sun rise.

She missed the picture she wanted to take, unfortunately, so we watched the sun casting rays of light between the two mountains and/or volcanos to the East. They erupted in 2006, spraying at least a centimeter of ash over Borobudur and PemabaranXXX. Everything's been mostly restored— except for the blocks that the Dutch decided to take from Borobudur and give out to those who worked on extricating the Buddhist temple from the jungle.

At least… I think it was the Dutch. One of them proposed the brilliant idea of taking the temple apart (and it's a big temple) piece by piece and donating parts of it to museums around the world. Someone else vetoed it… which is perhaps a still-more brilliant idea.

So we watched the sunrise, looked around a bit more… lost a few more people— first Mom, then Dad and Ioan… we found Dad and Ioan, but couldn't locate Ileana… Ileana sneezed and so we almost found her… and then we were walking around the center stuppah trying to tell Mom that we'd found Ileana… and not finding her, because Mom told us that we were going to meet at the base of the temple…

So we found each other… to make a long story short, and began walking clockwise around the temple, trying to find the animal stories. Young women would smile at us and ask for photos… and it's nice to pose with someone— they're so happy when they do get a photo… and it only takes a few minutes and a nice, wide smile. (And I have to admit I encourage it all by smiling non-shyly at all the girls who pass by us… because you can tell they want to ask but don't want to bother you).

We passed by a group that tried to take a picture of Ileana as she was walking past them— "YES!" said the girl who got the picture. I stopped and smiled— ten cellphones were whipped out, and a nice old woman grabbed me by the waist with both hands to get in the picture (personal boundaries disappear when picture-taking with women— and it's NICE. You share a bond with these people that you wouldn't otherwise).

I smiled and took hold of her arms to semi-embrace her— fangirl squeals from the girls. When all the pictures were taken, the woman and I smiled at each other and said 'Thank you.'

The day's a bit brighter for all of us.

Note: Yes, this post is a bit longer than normal. But cutting things out would cut out historical information or sentimental infromation, and frankly I'm going to make an exception today to the 490-510 word rule.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Random Thoughts About Today


I'm not fully certain if I can remember what happened this morning.

We woke up early, got our three bags together (two of them— the big ones— are with the Going Anyway family for the next two weeks, containing all the things we don't need for Java etc.)

It's amazing to think that if we were just viewing South East Asia, we could get by with so few bags. 

We took two planes, one from somewhere in Bali to Jakarta, and then another to Yogyakarta (or Jogjakarta or however it's spelled in wherever you happen to be). 

I love planes.  They're such productive places. Forced to stay in a small space, with nothing to buy, nothing to see out the window except perhaps clouds and take-off and departure. And onboard entertainment on Air Asia costs money. About $20 for an iPad with movies and games (games cost more). And those are only available on longer flights.

So the only things you can do on a plane are read, use an iPod, an iPad, or a laptop.

And I don't have an iPad (and I don't really have anything to do on one either besides listen to music or read— both of which are done infinitely more comfortably on my iPod). And the laptop tends to be at the whim of the person in front of you, who often plasters himself back with the speed of lightning, never considering that someone might be behind him. So I read.

And read. And maybe sleep— it depends on how long my eyes stay open. It doesn't matter if the book is interesting or not— when you go to bed at eleven or twelve or even one and wake up at seven or eight or six you tend to fall asleep on a plane or in a car. I'm sure anyone who moves all the time can understand this phenomenon— Dad used to fall asleep any time, any where— even while waiting for Ioan to select a tennis player on Virtua Tennis.

But getting past that.

We're in Yogyakarta, which was the capital of Indonesia from 1945 to 1949. Then again, we're about an hour away from the airport, in what Dad termed a 'research facility'/hotel (with a really fancy outdoor restaurant and an Audio-Visual Room), so we may not be in Yogyakarta exactly.

Anyway, the hotel is about five minutes away from Borobudur, a Buddhist temple built c. 800 AC. The Audio Visual Room is there specifically for a 35 minute movie about this temple. I'll explain more about it tomorrow— we wake up at 4am (first 7:30, then 5:30, and now 4!) to go see the temple before all the big crowds come in at 6am. At 6:30 we'll have breakfast, rest a bit, etc, before checking out at 12pm to find a much cheaper hotel in a much cheaper locale.

And I'm listening to Elvis Presley and I've got a lovely skirt and I'm so exhausted I'm happy for no reason!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tree Tops


I have a sick headache. There's some sort of pounding in my temples, on the top of my head, at the backs of my eyes. 

The sick headache comes from Phyllis in "Bewitched," and it's pretty apt. I think most of her headaches are from some sort of stress and/or attention-seeking.

Mine is stress-related. We went today to the Bali Tree Top Adventure Park. It's located in the Botanical Gardens in some city in Bali— I'm not certain of the exact location.

But basically what it is is a part of Balinese forest, with trees covered in zipline cords and obstacle courses.

Just thinking about it now makes my head spin. It was fine as I was doing it— okay, there's a Green course, an Orange course, a Blue course, a Red course, and the Black course. They get progressively harder and higher off the ground. The demo explains to us how to move around, how to pull things from one side to the other.

Perfect. It's easy. The Green course is simple… a few steps over a thin wire while holding on to another about chest height, a little zip line… it's easy. It's simple.

The Orange one is a bit harder. You step on a few planks that swing independently of each other, etc. The zip lines are a bit longer, a bit faster… the height is, well, higher, etc. 

Dad stops here and starts to film our progress from the ground.

The Blue… about the same. This time you get to crawl through a few logs, the planks are now thin logs that are placed diagonally so you can't walk across the middle— you have to shuffle a bit to step over everything. You also have to climb across a net. Ileana climbs down the net instead. She's had enough. Swinging logs are too much for her. 

Before the Red circuit, Mom, Ioan and I all have a long drink of water. Our throats are already becoming dry. To get to the beginning of the red circuit one has to climb a net. There are zip lines, a place where you hook onto a rope and swing OUT in mid air into a net, then climb up and continue going. 

One section includes walking across free-swinging stirrups. They are so far apart that Ioan is swinging in mid-air for quite some time as he tries to get one or both of his feet INTO something.

The black circuit starts with a rock climb up a wall, over a few wires, to a spot where lots of Chinese and Japanese are waiting to swing down a rope attached 20m above the ground onto a net… to swing down and either CONTINUE the black circuit (nothing as scary as this rope follows) or swing to a standstill and then climb down.

Ioan and Mom stop AFTER the rope swing.

I went on and did the entire black circuit.

And, like I said, I've got a SICK HEADACHE.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monkey Attack


We went to visit the Monkey Forest today. It's a temple complex where the locals continue to worship, surrounded by trees whose roots reach down from the branches to the earth. They are strong enough to hold a grown man up (some of them, at least).

There are about 600 Balinese macaques, 77 of which are males, about 140 of which are females… the rest are young. An interesting thing is that males have hair on their face that looks like a mustache, while the females have a beard.

But to the point.

Dad was attacked from the back by a monkey. He was minding his own business, filming what was in front of him (two baby macaques playing and bouncing around). We have eye witnesses that attest to the fact that a monkey climbed up the tree behind him and jumped onto his back, screeching loudly. Dad told it to calm down very calmly, stepped two or three steps away, (getting rid of the monkey in the process), and then checked up on all the rest of us (including me, who was about 10 feet away from the entire scene) to make sure we were okay.

Let me repeat— we've got the monkey screech on camera— up until Dad stopped filming— the part when he checked up on all of us doesn't exist.

So this all happened.

At least… that's what Dad says happened.

The rest of us, however, who were there, have put together something like this:

Ileana: A monkey was climbing the tree behind Dad. It stopped just behind him and reached out three fingers to poke Dad in the back. It touched him lightly on the right shoulder blade.

Everyone: Dad screeched. Loudly. The monkey scurried away. Dad screeched again in quick succession.

Maria: Dad threw his hands up, shook them around a bit, then ran to me. I was already turning around because I wasn't quite certain what had happened. As I was walking away, Dad ran to me, grabbed me and hugged me to him, and started blubbering.

"Get your arms away or I'll elbow you." I said (short explanation: Hindus frown on contact between opposite sexes… as we were in a Hindu temple complex on a Hindu island…)

Dad kept blubbering. Then he abruptly calmed down and told us the whole story.

"It pummeled me in the back!"

"No, Dad, it just touched you." Ileana said. 

And then later:

"It attacked me!"

"No, Dad, it just touched you."

And:

"I wasn't scared at all. I was very calm the entire time."

(Eyebrow raises from most of us.)

"Dad…" Ileana said, already angry, "You were screaming."

"I never scream."

And, one of the nicer quips:

"It hit me very hard in the back." Dad said, pointing to mid-back.

"Yes, Dad, we know." I said.

"DAAAD…" 

"Next you'll be saying it bit your neck and sucked your blood." Mom said drily.

(Things didn't get to that point, possibly because there was no bite.)

Also: We're not sure HOW SERIOUS he is about this.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Khan Academy


Today I spent at least four hours doing math on Khan Academy. 

I've been 'going back to the basics' since starting Khan Academy… taking things slowly and as they come. Because of it, I've got a very good idea of how to calculate coin probability, even when a coin is unfair. And exponents have been drilled into my mind very well.

I only do math when all of three conditions are fulfilled:

1) Internet is free, unlimited, and relatively fast.
2) I have my tablet with me (because the scratch paper is on screen, my life is ten times easier— BY A LOT— if I have a tablet. I hate using pencil and paper when I'm inputting things onto the computer. Too much looking up and down)
3) I am in the mood for it.

A bit more explanation is necessary for this third condition. I've found that if I'm not really in the mood for math, (even if I might like the subject— angles, for instance), then I will do practically anything else but math. Read, write, draw… draw… write, anything. My concentration goes out the window once I start doing this… and while I might spend 45 minutes doing actual math… I'm spending 60 minutes doing something that's not math. So I prefer to wait until I'm really and truly thinking "I'm going to do math today."

It generally happens like this:

"I've got good internet! I should do math."

"Nah."

"Well, maybe tomorrow."

The next day:

"I should do math today."

"Just finish this little thing so it doesn't distract you." (The little thing may take hours… but when it's finished…)

"MATH!"

And then I sit down and do hours in a row without quite realizing where the time has gone. Which is exactly what happened today, and a few weeks ago in Kuta.

The end result is that I get quite a few energy points (points are lovely), some new badges if I'm lucky (since I don't watch the videos, I tend to get the same badges many many times… and a new badge only when I've hit a big milestone), and a better grounding in math.

Of course, if you look at the skills it's taken me since December 2011 to achieve, you will be disappointed.  The areas I've achieved proficiency in are: Telling Time, Addition and Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, Absolute Value, Decimals, Factors and Multiples, Order of Operations, Probability, Fractions, Exponentials and Radicals, Angles, and the Pythagorean Theorum. 

It looks as if Ioan were studying, not me. Or possibly what Ileana is reviewing. I'm confident, however, that there is nothing to worry about. This trip isn't about learning math or psychology— it's about experiencing the world, using a different lifestyle, and learning a bit more about ourselves.

If I miss anything on this trip schoolwise, I have at least five months to catch up before college— from February 2013 to July 2013. There's a lot you can do in five months!

ALSO: I achieved proficiency in 200 skills and won the Copernicus Badge!