4 x This Week: Sickness Strikes (or the Blood Moon?), Puppet-Jackie, and Email Paranoia

Concrete Ceiling and Fan
I’ve become well-acquainted with this ceiling fan. It spins right above where I sleep, as well as where I stare when I’m contemplating the complexities of my existence.
I’m kidding. Sort of.

Ahahaha, you may have thought you were rid of me, seeing as I didn’t post last week. But I am back, and just as scintillating as ever.

(And by scintillating, I mean gray. As gray as the ceiling in my sister’s apartment. But you know, same.)

**1**

I’ve been sick (hence the no-show last Monday). For one day it was something flu-like, then it was something heat exhaustion-like, and then a headache that might be related to that time of the month when the blood moon is out, if you get what I mean wink-wink-nudge-nudge.

Plus, we’re out of bottled water.

*dies*

**2**

Last week I was gonna post this, but then I got sick, but I guess I’ll post it anyway.

There’s a person staying over with my sister and I who I don’t get along with, and I don’t know what I was expecting but we still don’t get along. Actually, she may have gotten worse. Problem, though, this person is family and technically holds power over me since she’s older, familial piety, etc. etc. Do I hate it? Yeah. Because I don’t let anyone else talk to me the way she does. But for some reason I have to give her an exception. Only family can get away with it, I guess, because I’m stuck with them and I am dependent until I get out of college.

So I guess it’s time for puppet-Jackie to come back out and pretend to be a good little doll, or cut the strings and get trampled.

A bit dramatic, now that I look back. Problem has been resolved (ish), though there’s like a 99% chance that if we meet up again, we’ll still argue.

Sigh. I wish we could all get along. Truly I do.

**3**

Sometimes I wonder if my email is glitchy and I’m secretly not getting important emails.

**4**

A thought on these 4x posts: should I split up the 4x? Like, maybe split this up so that each part occurs on a different day of the week? The posts would be shorter, but they’d be way more frequent, perhaps more than would make most people comfortable.

(And by “most” I mean the small percentage of people who actually read this. If anyone reads this. If you are reading this, well then, I raise my teacup to you, sir.)

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4 x This Week: Jazzhop, Mean Dreams, Recycling Gods, and Baked Salmon

Books: York and The Night Circus
York by Laura Ruby and The Night Cirucs by Erin Morgenstern. One’s an “about time I read this” and the other’s an “about time I reread this.” The last one’s a journal. No significance. She’s only there for aesthetic purposes.

This week’s picture I chose because I liked it. No other reason. I haven’t even started reading York yet, but it’s on my list, okay?

But just look at that typography. So gorgeous.

**1**

First off, let’s start with some atmosphere. For the past few days I’ve been listening to jazz-adjacent instrumental music. And by jazz-adjacent, I mean in the realm of “jazzhop” or “jazzy hip hop” or “lounge music,” according to the videos. I dunno, the category of  jazz has always been fairly nebulous to me, because one minute you’re at cocktail piano levels, the next you’re nearer to swing, and then maybe smooth jazz, or even ragtime, and those all sound pretty different. Wikipedia has this list of jazz subgenres, in which jazzhop does not appear. Which is kind a sad, because the name jazzhop has grown on me.

But anyway, there’s like eight hours of jazzhop on these three videos:

I’m also really fond of this Studio Ghibli jazz covers collection.

Really good for studying/focusing/writing or whatever.

And if you’re looking for a new show to watch and you really appreciate this jazzhop vibe, may I recommend an anime called K (sometimes called K Project). Great jazz hop-ish soundtrack, also really like the color tints they add to the animation.

**2**

Rant. I had a dream a few days ago where an internship that I had applied to (in-dream) called me back and told me I got the job, and it was in L.A., and I went, and I think I was involved in product design, and me and my coworkers made grilled cheese sandwiches in the break room. I woke up once again jobless and without grilled cheese, and so far it’s one of the meanest dreams I’ve ever had.

**3**

This may be a Pacific Northwest thing, but having stayed in Phoenix for some time now, I have to ask: why no recycling? I feel a bit snotty saying this, but I guess I’m more environmentally-aware than I’d previously thought (or more privileged in that recycling cans in Seattle are everywhere). Let me break it down for you.

I a) cannot drink the tap water in Phoenix because it is not 100% savory and is not 100% unquestionable, according to my sister, so I have to b) buy bottled water, whose bottles I c) then have to throw away because d) I cannot find a recycling bin in my sister’s entire apartment complex.

It’s official. I have taken recycling for granted. I apologize to the recycling gods for the sheer number of plastic bottles I have sent down the trash chute.

**4**

I thought I’d share my experience baking salmon. I bake salmon a lot. I love it. Another Pacific Northwest thing, I guess. It’s actually pretty easy and fast, if you can find salmon on the cheap. So here’s how it goes.

How to bake a salmon in the oven.

First, pick yourself out a good fish. Salmon or steelhead will work. Steelhead is pretty much like salmon only it’s actually classified as a trout. But whatever, still tasty. So, when you go to get your fish, smell it—fresh fish either has no smell or a slightly sweet smell. Fish that smells like fish is old fish. You can also check for freshness by looking at the eyes: clear eyes, fresh fish. You’ll want a good fillet, so the eye thing might not help. But who knows.

Fillets: typically I go for a fillet of one whole side with the skin still on. You can get it without skin, but I find the fish has better texture, is more moist and stays together better if you bake it with the skin. Plus salmon skin is delicious, especially the parts that get all crunchy in the olive oil (more on that later.)

So now you have this fish. If you’re not gonna use it right away, wrap it in some plastic wrap, then wrap that in foil, and put it in the freezer, then defrost it whenever you want to use it. Otherwise, take the fillet and rinse it with some cold water. Just let some sink water run over it, then pat it dry with a paper towel.

Get a baking sheet and line it with foil. It makes cleanup easier.

Put a drizzle of oil on the foil-lined sheet and spread it around for a thin layer. Then put the salmon on the sheet, skin-side down. Get some more olive oil, and cover the whole salmon. Make sure it’s entirely covered, you’ll probably have to use your hands to rub the oil around.

Once that’s done, seasoning. Usually I just stick to salt, pepper, and some paprika for fanciness. One trick, though: for even more fanciness, sub out the salt for some smoked sea salt. It makes it taste a little bit more like you grilled it on an open fire, even though you clearly did not.

Okay, now the oven. 425 degrees for 15 minutes usually does it for one whole salmon fillet. Once time’s up, you’ll want to check the salmon by taking a knife and sticking it in the thickest part of  the fish. The knife should go through easy, and when you look inside the cut, the meat should be opaque, and not translucent like the way raw salmon usually is.

That’s pretty much it. If you’re a lemon-and-salmon type of person, I would advise against baking the salmon with lemons on top. While it looks pro, baking lemons makes the lemons (and thus the fish) kinda bitter, so I’m not totally in love with the idea. Try just squeezing some fresh lemon instead.

Aaaaand you’re done! Easy peasy salmon. If you’ve got leftovers you can save them, or you can mash up the salmon with some cream cheese + mayonnaise + maybe more salt to make a salmon dip. Maybe throw in some onion powder. Chives. It’s good with chips, or on a bagel.

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4 x This Week: Animated Movies (Question Mark?), Writing Advice Websites, and Five Man Bands

Hello again. Not much going on this week, so, uh, I’m gonna talk about random things. Also, no picture, because… just because.

**1**

Here’s a question: why do some adults avoid animated movies? I always come across people who think that animation (2D or 3D) is for children, which confuses me a bit. Yes, many of these movies are marketed towards children, but many of those movies are also quite complex. And who says that a story made for children can’t be for adults too? This, to me, calls to mind a few quotes from C.S. Lewis:

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

and:

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Additionally, have you seen how much work goes into animating a movie? There’s a lot of planning and technical work that goes into that stuff.

If anyone is an adult who is averse to watching animated stuff, I’d love to hear a thought.

**2**

Writing advice?

http://elumish.tumblr.com/ –> General, lots of posts about lots of different things

http://howtofightwrite.tumblr.com/ –> How to write about all kinds of combat

http://tvtropes.org/ –> Just go check it out. Every trope under the noonday sun.

**3**

For some reason I’m really hung up on the Five Man Band trope, and I keep trying to identify it in movies/shows/books with groups of five people. I’m always surprised by how many things fit the trope…

Also, have I mentioned how much I love looking through the TV Tropes website?

**4**

I just have to tack on at the end that I saw Wonder Woman and I was not disappointed. It was great.

4 x This Week: Phoenix, Aimer, and Lightless Rooms

Airplane Sunset on My Way
Sunset from my airplane seat on my way into Phoenix. How did I get this gorgeous shot? I have no idea.

The photo is a bit deceptive. It is beautiful. Light. Almost whipped-cream adjacent.

This post is not.

**1**

I’m in Phoenix! If anyone is reading these 4 x This Week posts (which you’re probably not, but I’m trying to practice being an optimist), you might remember that I mentioned that I would be visiting my sister in Arizona two weeks ago. And then I didn’t. And I went to Seattle last week instead.

Well, I finally made it to the Grand Canyon state. As expected, it’s hot. Like, really hot. As I am typing this (at 8:36 at night, sun is down) the current outdoor temperature is 102 degrees. Now, 100+ degree weather is not what you would call my forte, but I’m coping. We have air conditioning. The sunsets are amazing. I’m adjusting to the heat… sort of.

I can’t say the weather isn’t exciting, though. Saturday there was a weird storm thing happening. In the morning it was sunny as usual, and then all of a sudden in the late afternoon it was raining and the wind was blowing hard enough to break the palm trees down the road. It was kind of fun, but then again I didn’t have to go outside, so.

Update: It’s 10:00 and there’s a storm. Lightning, wind, dust, the works. And yes, it is 92 degrees.

Second Update: 10:15 look it’s raining. A lot.

Still 92 degrees though.

**2**

Right now I’m listening to Aimer. She’s a singer from Japan and I absolutely love her voice, as well as the rock/emo influences in many of her songs. I just found out she’s on Spotify, so she’s been on repeat for a few days. The first song I ever heard from her was Brave Shine, which I highly recommend. Also, I really appreciate the whole blanc/noir theme of her two collection albums. And cats! With crowns!

https://i2.wp.com/aramajapan.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/aramajapan_blanc-noir.png?fit=1024%2C518

**3**

Writing: right now I’m at 42,816 words in my latest draft (give or take—I skipped over a section but also tend to write a lot of notes). I feel like the story needs to happen along faster, or that 42,000 words is a bit much for how far I actually am in the story. But then again, they say that when writing you should worry about the word count later. For now, just write.

Right?

Also I think I have too many characters moving around in the story right now… which I feel has actually been a problem for a long, long time. I guess I just never felt like addressing it. Well, not properly, anyway.

So if the person who is reading this right now is actually me from the future, I hope you’ve done something about this. And if you haven’t? SIT DOWN, GRAB A PEN, AND FIX IT.

NO, DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

FIX. IT.

**4**

Besides all the stuff above, nothing is really happening right now. I mean, if you don’t count my inner turmoil (which is almost always happening, *eye roll*). The thing is, I knew something like this would pop up eventually—that one day I would sit down to write this post and realize that there is nothing of interest for me to write. Nope. Nothing. Blank.

Most days I just wait for my sister to come home from work, since I’m not at school and do not currently have a job. It’s just minutes upon hours upon days upon months of in-between, transitory waiting time. And in those minutes to hours to days to months, I get these flickers. Flickers of fear, flickers that I will be forever in this waiting limbo. Doing nothing, contributing nothing, enjoying nothing. Just… waiting for something to happen to me that is not a blood sugar crash or a panic attack.

I can rationalize and say that this transitory state is, by nature, transitory. But I can only realistically see this and/or feel it to be true once I am outside that state. It’s like being in a room that’s completely dark, a room whose dimensions are unknown. It could be five feet across. It could be a hundred. But I won’t know until I cross the lightless room, touch the walls, and possibly find a light switch. Until then, I am endlessly in the dark, waiting, waiting, waiting.

For eternity? Maybe.

…Anyway, sorry. Got a bit depressing there for a moment.

On a lighter note, I have realized that Emma, my current read, is actually the basis for the movie Clueluess. Huh. You learn something new every day.

***

Well, that’ll be all for today, folks. Stay tuned for the next 4 x This Week, where we’ll discover whether or not our young heroine can pull herself out of her own misery. Will she be forever waiting in a lightless room? Will she find a job? Or is her life about to take a turn for the worse? Find out next Monday!

4 x This Week: Bohemian Rhapsody, Noodle Soup, and Say No to the Zombie Apocalypse

Noodle Soup from Silk Road Noodle Bar
Perfection in a bowl. Noodle soup from the Silk Road Noodle Bar. Not sure what it’s called, but it’s number A1.

I’m changing up the numbering style for this post, maybe this’ll be better?

Also I realize that I’m just ripping all of my pictures straight off my instagram account. Oh well. I’ll try to give you more original material next week.

**1**

Right now (well, before I took a break to write out this post) I’m listening to/singing Bohemian Rhapsody while sitting on my living room couch, writing. The lights in this room are out. But not for atmosphere, no. It’s because the light switch is broken *cry*. So far, I’ve written about five lines of text. This is my Sunday.

**2**

I saw my friends in Seattle! I missed them so much, even though it’s only been like a month since I’ve last seen them. Instead of making a depressing comment about how I’m sad to be back in my home town of Washougal (near Vancouver– not the Canada–and across the river from Portland– not the Maine), I’m gonna recommend some food places I went to this week.

Silk Road Noodle Bar. For some reason I always end up going there at like 4:00 p.m. when it’s empty. Like, really empty. But you should get whatever noodle soup A1 is (I can’t remember the name, just the number). It is all I have ever wanted in a noodle soup.

Portage Bay Cafe: Breakfast. Yum. I’ve only been there the one time, but omigosh it was delicious.

**3**

On my hell no list: caffeine and zombie apocalypse movies. I have indulged in both this week and have realized my mistake.

Caffeine affects my system pretty badly, and mixed with my anxiety it feels pretty much like a race to death. Heart pounding. Hands shaking. Paranoia, paranoia, paranoia.

One sunny afternoon I decided I would drink a white mocha (which I’ve had before, by the way), but there was a bit more caffeine in this one, and I was jittery for hours afterwards. But, like, I like the smell of coffee. And the taste is good at times. But coffee does not like me. So warning to my future self: never again.

Now, zombie apocalypse movies. I have always hated them. And always will. I watched one with some friends on the Fourth of July, thinking that it can’t be that bad.

It was that bad.

I don’t think I scare that easily, but there are four subjects that I stay away from in movies and books at all costs:

  1. zombies
  2. apocalypses
  3. deep outer space
  4. and diseases.

This movie that I watched ticked off three of these four items. And no, it did not include deep outer space. Anyway, it was a bad idea. At first I thought it just made me more depressed and uncomfortable, but then I realized it actually scared me. Like actually scared me. It’s been five days and I’m still having horror flashbacks.

Again, warning to my future self: NEVER AGAIN.

**4**

I started reading Emma by Jane Austen this week. So far, I like it. From Austen I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite books) and Persuasion. Some time ago I read that P&P, Persuasion, and Emma are the three essentials from Austen, but a quick internet search tells me that that might not be the truth. Thoughts on Austen, anyone?

***

That’s all, I think. Man, I want some noodles now.

4 x This Week: If I Die Young, Someone Delete My Internet History

Books: Ninefox Gambit, Raven Strategem, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
From left to right: Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, followed by Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Hey would you look at that, it’s July. This week in my uneventful life:

  1. Books! I kinda talked about this on instagram, but here it is again. It’s summer, and I usually read more in the summer, and I haven’t talked about books in a while, so this post was a long time coming. In the order presented in the picture above, first we have Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee is one of my favorite books of all time, and I highly recommend it. Smart, overpowered characters for the win! I’m super excited to read the sequel Raven Stratagem, which I just got my hands on. It feels like I’ve been waiting for it forever. I recently finished Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. I read it because I a) heard that some people whose work I admire cited this as one of their favorite books and b) made a deal with myself to read more Murakami/magic realism in general. I liked it, but I also feel like I missed something about it. Probably/definitely needs a reread. Also, the shadow was my favorite. Speaking of Murakami books, I actually started The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle before Hard-Boiled Wonderland, and am about a quarter of the way through. Wind-Up Bird has one of my favorite covers of all the books I own. The book itself is a bit long, but I hear it’s worth it.
  2. On the writing side of things: I decided this week to switch from past tense to present tense, which is, uh, harder than I thought it was going to be. Originally my story was 1st person past tense, then I switched it over to 3rd person past, and now it’s gonna be 3rd person present. The flow of words is all messy now, and rereading my work is making me realize that the plot needs some major edits. I’m a bit stuck, but I think I can fix it. Probably. Maybe. 50/50.
  3. I’m flying to Arizona tomorrow to stay with my sister, and I realize that my normal sleeping patterns have not prepared me to wake up for a 6:30 a.m. flight. I’ve never pulled an all-nighter, and I never will. I think it would damage my psyche too much, not to mention that I know it wreaks havoc on my anxiety levels. So I’m going to attempt to sleep early, and wake up before the sun rises. If you see a broken human on the floor in PDX, PHX, or in an airplane somewhere between the two, it’s probably me. (Also Arizona is too hot for me and I heard that Prescott is on fire. Literally on fire.)
  4. I am a giant ball of stress right now and feel unmotivated to do anything, which is bad bad bad. Between unnecessary pressure from my parents, a grim future outlook, fluctuating anxiety levels, a stomach that won’t cooperate with me and self-confidence at all time lows, I don’t know how I haven’t had an attack yet. But it’s whatever, I guess. I know this is another hump I have to get over, but it kinda feels like I’m gonna be climbing over this hump forever, Sisyphus-style. See broken human in #3. The only good thing I can say is that my appetite hasn’t completely crashed yet, and I don’t feel as bad as I do when I’m in the actual pit of anxiety, the way I was in like September-Octoberish of last year. So that’s… good, I guess? Kind of a low bar if that’s what I’m comparing my current state to, though.

Overall, not a fantastic week. To quote the Band Perry:

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn

…but send me away with the words to either Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance, In the End by Black Veil Brides, or maybe the sound of Farewell Life by Arn Andersson. All good songs, highly recommend.

4 x This Week: He’s Writing Backwards, Isn’t He

Doodle from 6-19-17

Me drawing: looks good
Also me drawing: he’s writing backwards isn’t he

Anyway, 4 things that stuck out to me this past week:

  1. Only reached my writing goal of (at least) 300 words a day three times this week, but they were a very productive three times. Lesson: keep writing, you can cut stuff out later!
  2. There is a human who made me want to invoke this song this week. Thank you, sir-who-shall-remain-nameless-and-that-I-would-punch-if-we-weren’t-related. I don’t have that many weak points, yet this person managed to hit. Every. Single. One. during his tirade. It was not pretty. There were tears and existential crises. Related to #3. Also related: I miss college and my dorm. I do not like being home. SOMEONE TAKE ME BACK.
  3. I think I’ve hit a low point in my life… All of a sudden, too. Like, I don’t remember being in this pit of despair last week. I’m still in college so it’s kind of okay, but I have no job and am doing nothing for the summer, which makes me feel like human garbage. On the flip side, though, I would like to thank one of my friends for sending me a godlike miracle text of support. She didn’t even know I was feeling down, and yet she made me feel 1000x better. I would also like to thank my sister, who I usually take care of, but I feel is now taking care of me. (Also, it was her birthday yesterday *confetti*)
  4. On a better note, I tore through the manga Akatsuki no Yona in like three days. Character development. Gotta love it. But, unfinished story… driving me insane.

Well, those are my 4 for this week. Stay turned, hopefully next Monday my life will be drastically better.

Hopefully.

Save

Aaaaannnnd We’re Back

Stone Park in My Hometown
It’s like Stonehenge… but without the stone

Hello there blog, I haven’t seen you since… wow, April? Really? That’s a long time. Anyway, I’m going to try to blog again, which I know you’ve heard a million times before. But it’s summer now, so I guess I have more time to blog, in between dealing with the crazy people in my house and walking to the library two miles away.

(On my first walk this summer I crossed through the weird/cool stone park in the picture. Definitely didn’t know that was there.)

As exemplified by the stone park photo above, I am trying to improve my photography skills. For some reason, this means adding a lot of yellow to my photos when I edit them. I don’t know why. Everything is bluuuue gold *cue Halsey song*

Along with improving photography skills, I’m also going to be doing more writing. I used to be up to 2000 words a day at one point, but now I’m back to 300+. I say “+” because I usually write more after 300. I forget where I heard it first, but someone had the idea of giving themselves a goal of 300 words, since they’d usually get into the flow by then and keep writing after 300. Hopefully, though, I’ll to get back to 2000 soon.

As for the blogging, I think I will attempt to do something new, and hopefully easy: once a week I’m going to list nine (four? five? seven? I’ll decide later) things that stood out to me during the week. In addition, I’ll try to post about my writing journey or other things at least once a week as well. We’ll see how that goes.

I think that’s it for today. Next post will probably be on… Tuesday? I think I used to blog on Tuesdays.

Obviously I am a master at this.

Well, farewell for now.

Paper Adventures: Musing About the Blog While Folding a Procrastination Crane

Paper crane I folded that looks kind of like vanilla bean ice cream

So I had a thought yesterday, and that thought was: I wonder how my blog is doing?

Not well, obviously. Little Atmospheres has become a poor, neglected child in my opinion. I feel like I’ve become an estranged parent who only visits her kid every month or so, if even. Why, oh why have I let things go this far?

Anyway, the thought hit me because I was in the middle of writing an essay for one of my classes when I decided that I should fold a paper crane out of some dot paper instead (which, as my sister pointed out to me, looks like a vanilla-bean ice cream crane). You know, as you do when you want to procrastinate. And then somehow paper crane yay turned into I love paper turned into I think I mentioned my love for paper on my blog before which morphed into I should put this on my blog which eventually became oh my gosh the blog THE BLOG.

Suddenly I remembered my blog’s existence. It was kind of like finding an unused journal in the back of your bookshelf. Exciting. But also kind of, why haven’t I been using this?

Paper, as it happens, is one of my favorite things on this earth. Paper is crisp, it’s pretty, it’s packed full of potential. The blog is similar, in many ways. It’s pretty. It has potential. But the key difference between the two is that I know what to do with paper. If I see a piece of paper I know I can draw on it, fold it, or maybe look up something new to do with it. I saw some dot paper while writing my essay; I folded said dot paper into a vanilla-bean ice cream crane. Easy.

But the thing is, I have never known what to do with Little Atmospheres. It’s a piece of paper I’m often afraid to touch. It’s still crisp. It’s still pretty. It’s still full of potential. But it’s not much more than that. Why? Because I’ve never known what to use the blog for. And honestly, I don’t think I know how to properly blog. When I sit down to blog I feel like a monkey at a typewriter, randomly jamming keys and hoping something will stick.

I think part of the problem is that I want whatever I put on the blog to be shiny and perfect. I was like this as a kid with those journals I mentioned—I would always buy beautiful journals, but I didn’t write in them. I wanted to save them for the perfect thing to write, which of course never came. So the journals went unused.

But now I think I’m going to try something new. Treat Little Atmospheres more like paper. To use and enjoy, not fearing judgment or lack of perfection. I think this is a lesson I can apply to other things in my life as well. You know, I heard on the internet somewhere that procrastination can be a sign of perfectionism, because often what happens is that we put things off if we are unsure of whether or not we can produce something quality. But perfection isn’t everything, and quite honestly, the stagnancy isn’t very helpful.

So what does this mean, in the end? Well, for starters, I’m going to try to do something with the blog. What? I don’t know. I’ve probably said this a million times before, too. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

Hopefully I find my true blog calling through this experience, whatever that may be. And if you’re struggling with some kind of perfectionism-procrastination thing, well, I hope you know that perfection is subjective, and whatever you do will probably be quality, or else will be a stepping stone you can use to get to quality. But you gotta take a step first.

Or so they tell me.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I still have an essay to write. Oops.