Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Here we (Mike, Luke and I) are in Toulouse, walking around the city and enjoying the free internet at a café. Thought I would wish anyone reading this a Happy New Year before it's too late. Enjoy yourself wherever you may be.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I leave for vacation tomorrow! I only have a couple of classes in the morning, lunch with some other teachers, and then I leave Morlaix around 4pm to see Mike! I haven't seen him in almost exactly a year. I will now make a list of things I must do before departure, in the Farisian style to honor this great event:

- Cut my hair and clean bathroom and living room
- Wash some clothes in the bathtub
- Cook dinner
- Write 2-3 UT short articles
- Burn a CD of Christmas music for my chilluns
- Pack my messenger bag
- Organize tickets and reading material for the trip
- Get money out for trip

I think that's it. I won't have a lot of internet love over the break, so here is your homework: post suggestions as to what I should do with the rest of my life in the comments. I have set a deadline of the end of January for deciding what jobs I will apply for after this one, and need some help. Have at it.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Scientific American's News Bytes of the Week are almost always amusing, but the December 14th ones are particularly so. "Why Pregnant Women Don't Tip Over," and "Italian Docs Strip for Money," are hilarious, though it's sad that the Arctic is melting and that the U.K. is pulling out of the ILC and cutting a bunch of phunding for physics in their country.

I'm finally all caught up on my astronomy reading for the last week of absence. See all those links over there on the left hand side? I try to read all of the news-related ones about every day, and missing three or four days is a good way to get set back (especially with Bad Astronomy, as being a published writer Phil seemingly has nothing better to do that screw around on the internets all day and, y'know, make the world a better place by keeping everyone honest). Now I just have to get caught up with my UT stories, and I'll be ready to go on vacation! Yay for the lazy French and their vacations!

Speaking of UT, the last Astronomy Cast was particularly inspiring. Think you can't do anything for science? Think again!! Listen to find out more about how just using your eyes and a computer you can participate in the "world's real oldest profession."

Update and Holiday Cheer

After being sick last week, and mostly worthless, I feel like I'm finally getting back on my feet. Friday night I went to the astronomy club, like always, and Magali did a presentation on astronomy in the Middle Ages in central Asia. It was very informative, and we were a bit bummed that we didn't get to see the Geminids because it was cloudy. Ah, well, next year I suppose.

Saturday I went to Brest and just kinda hung out with my friend Emma and walked around. It was nice to leave the apartment and Morlaix for a bit. I bought a phone card and talked on the phone all evening long to family and friends back in the States, notably my friend Nik. I think we may have talked for longer than an hour, which will probably cost me more than an arm and leg but was worth it.

Sunday I did laundry, rode my bike about 30km and started working again on some UT articles. That's the plan for today, as well, as my class was canceled and it's cold but nice outside.

As for my vacation, I finally got some tickets and nailed down some dates yesterday. I'm going to Paris the 21st-24th, to see my friend Nicolai the 24th-28th in Auch (near Toulouse), and to Barcelona the 28th-1st. Then I'll come back here for the last 4 or 5 days and ride my bike, because by then I will have no money left for sure. I also have to start buying tickets for my vacation in February to (hopefully) Budapest and St. Petersburg.

Speaking of vacations and biking, I think I might try to start planning a European bike trip. I thought it would be neat to ride my bike from here to Köln or Berlin when I'm done with my contract, maybe passing through Belgium. Anybody want to come with? This depends, of course, on how much money I can manage to save between now and then.

And now, a bit of holiday cheer, thanks to Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I just spent the last three days in my apt., being sick. I hate being sick. I watched TV a lot, because reading and writing just weren't happening with my blurry head. Drank a lot of tea, too. I feel like I know French TV a lot better than I did previously, though. It's terrible.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Chewing-Gum Pony

I was talking with my new friend Sarah the other day about the first story I ever wrote, titled "The Chewing-Gum Pony." I did so in maybe 3rd or 4th grade. It was intended to be a full-length children's book, and I had my best friend Nik make a bunch of illustrations for it. I then sent off the "manuscript" that I typed up on my mom's work computer to Penguin Press. Sadly, this work of genius was rejected by them, though the publisher did take the time to write up and send a nice rejection letter. I distinctly remember one sentence being, "Unfortunately, we only publish books for children and not by children." I think the editor also encouraged me to revise and submit the story again when I was older. Well, the idea is a good one, and maybe someday I'll do it. Until then, though, here is the unedited original version. I still have the handwritten paper copy somewhere, written inside a hot-pink spiral-ring notebook, and all of Nik's illustrations. Of course, the subject of my writing has changed a bit since I was in 3rd grade, but you can tell from the story that I had an interest in stars and space already.

Without further ado, The Chewing-Gum Pony:

Once upon a time there was a small pony named Jimmy. He liked to chew. One day he said, “I’ve chewed everything except…chewing gum!” He went to the store but it was not there. Then he asked a boy and he said, “At the gum store.” He went to the gum store. There were all kinds of flavors and colors. Jimmy decided to get every color. H carried the boxes on his back. Jimmy liked gum. He ever chewed it at night! When he ran out, he went back and got more. Now he could blow bubbles. One time he blew a so big of a bubble that it covered his body! When he was by friends, it popped on them. For Christmas he got 1,000 boxes. For Valentine he got 100. Jimmy saved all his money to buy gum. Gum helped him do things. When he was running a race, he chewed gum to relax and he won first place. Sometimes he couldn’t chew gum because it was against the rules. Jimmy also used his gum for protection. He popped a bubble on a bully . He always gave gum to his friends. All of his friends liked Jimmy. One time he was reading a book and he popped a bubble and it took a week to get it off! People watched Jimmy blow bubbles. When it snowed it fell on his bubble and popped it. Then the snow tasted like gum. When he was going to space he packed the spaceship full of gum. When he watched a movie everyone heard popping noises. One day Jimmy wanted to go see a star. So he chewed some gum and blew a big bubble. Then it lifted Jimmy and he went up, up, up, up until he caught a star and his bubble popped and he went down, down, down, down, until he landed on the ground. Then he talked to the star and let it go. When he got tickets to the carnival he went and chewed gum the whole time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007