Eight Years Ago

I don’t think any of my conservative friends read this blog, so I won’t feel bad about being partisan here. Yesterday I had a big deadline, so today was spent lounging around, watching the inauguration and generally trying to relax.
Watching Obama take the oath of office and give his excellent speech was an amazing time for me. I haven’t been very active in following politics in the far past (i.e. more than 5 years ago) so this was the first inauguration I’ve watched. It took me back to eight years ago though.January 20, 2001 I was driving from Goshen to South Bend Indiana, in the van with my mom. I was a high school senior (yes, I’m young) visiting Goshen for a scholarship weekend, I believe, and we were driving to South Bend for the day to visit my cousin’s family. On the way there we turned on the radio and the voices of NPR brought the inauguration to us.

No one could have predicted what the next eight years would have in store for us as a country, or what an impact Bush’s presidency would have on the country and on the world. (Interpret this statement as you see fit.) Nor could I have predicted what the next eight years would have in store for me personally.

With my brother and two cousins – Summer 2000

I headed to the movies for Girl’s Night tonight and remarked on how unlikely I would have thought my current life was eight years ago. That 17 year old wouldn’t have had a clue what LaTeX was, let alone how to write a paper in it. She didn’t know where she was going to college, just that she had interests in Math and Peace and Justice Studies. She read incessantly and wrote for the school paper. She was taking a college course in Hymnody, the history and study of hymns. She desperately wanted to spend a semester abroad in South Africa learning about the South African choral tradition. She’d never left the US and Canada and had only been to three King’s Singers concerts.

Kayaking in Aialik Bay July 2008
Today I’m in my fourth year of a Ph.D. in computer science. I’m living in Minnesota, typing this post on a MacBook!, play guitar hero on occasion, and have cable tv. I’ve been going to the gym to build up my endurance and learn to run. Last summer I spent several days in the woods in the middle of nowhere with no electricity, no running water, and bears, leading me to conclude that kayaking made more sense than hiking. Instead of South Africa, I ended up studying in England, leading to my current love-affair with the British Isles. I’ve traveled, multiple times, in nine countries and have seen the King’s Singers about 20 times in four countries. (Yes, watching Flight of the Conchords did lead me to self-reflection.)

Some things are the same. I still sing in my church choir, still love to read L’Engle, Feynman, and the New Yorker. I still dream about living abroad, speaking another language fluently, and being a better pianist. I’m a good cook, fairly messy, and a bit klutzy.

I assume that the people around me are following politics, so I assume that you could conduct a similar assessment of the US over these past eight years.

I like to think that my life now is better than I would have expected eight years ago, which I do not think holds true for our country. But on November 4th, we gave the nation another chance. Right now we are struggling, but the tunnel is not dark any longer. There is a light that, at noon today, got a whole lot brighter, illuminating the tunnel and helping us to see our surroundings and the path ahead. We will not escape the tunnel without making some wrong turns or stumbling here and there. But we have a leader who will help us forward, who will make sure we don’t get lost in the back, and who will have the confidence to ask the person who’s been in the tunnel before to help lead us out. And that, my friends, will make all the difference.

Dream Job

I’m pretty sure that my dream job would be working for/with/at Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. I laughed for two straight hours tonight at the taping and all the show staff and personalities seemed to be having a great time too. I need to actively start campaigning MPR to bring them to MN. Both Mo and Peter want to come, but because MPR plays them in a bad slot (2-3 on Saturdays perhaps?) they won’t bring them for a live performance. However it seems like all my MN peeps listen to them either on the radio, or, more likely, on the podcast. So I need to start emailing and writing MPR once a week or something and threatening to withhold my miniscule pledge if they don’t shape up. That’s my dream profession they’re dissing.

But seriously folks, it was a great evening. Well worth the $22 I paid and to be honest it makes me want to pledge to Wait Wait specifically to help ensure it’s smooth path into the future. What made the show even more fun, is that, as Peter said, it was coming back from vacation for them and was their anniversary show, so it was apparently a little crazier than usual. You folks will probably hear a small portion of that this weekend. So tune in!

I’ll post pictures sometime in the not so distant future. I somehow ended up telling Carl Kasell about PPR when I met him. I did not, however, remember to tell Mo Rocca that while sometimes Morris Dancers dance with lightsaber-esque sticks, they also sometimes dance with hankies. I feel that that is a very important fact and would have made all their cracks that much funnier. Although you can’t make nunchuks out of hankies. Or not very effective ones.

But, having rambled on for far too long, I will leave you to your lives and will head upstairs to the warmest youth hostel room in the Northern Hemisphere. (Makes the condo feel like the arctic.) Adieu!

Rogue Rice Pudding

I haven’t died, nor have I written the promised Bible post for y’all. But I did have a talk with my mom about how she thinks I should write higher quality posts instead of apologizing all the time. So here’s a short one for my mom.

I just got home from choir. I was excited because I had found myself a ride to the Amtrak station at 7am, saving myself 30-45 extra minutes on the bus or waiting around downtown. But Ben appeared to not be home. Then I heard clinking and cluttering in the bathroom, but the lights weren’t on. Ben insisted that he didn’t need the lights to brush his teeth. Then he kept dropping something, so I switched on the light. Then he dropped his toothbrush into the toilet, making it the second toothbrush since April to fall into the toilet.

That as a stand alone incident isn’t that funny, really. But then the microwave started beeping at me and I got mad at it and went to take out the rice pudding that I’d heated up. It was in a nice 1 cup ziploc container. Somehow the rice pudding JUMPED out of the container and ended up on the edge of the microwave half fallen out. So what did I do? I ran to the rescue of the rice pudding. I grabbed it in my hand, ran to the cupboard and threw it into a bowl. It was burning my hand. Then Ben came in and I explained that I had just thrown the rice pudding across the room to save it. Hysterical laughing from both parties ensued. Not so random aside: the rice pudding was made in under an hour from dry rice in the rice cooker. It worked out well, if you ignore the crunch in the currents that expired 1.5 years ago.

Now we are using video chat across the room. It makes funny echo noises.

I really shouldn’t keep writing my conference paper tonight. I should obviously go to bed. Or pack. Or something. But to keep the conversation going, I will ask you this: What would you do with rice pudding gone rogue?