Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Apple Cannon Will Destroy You

Hey there Internet. Guess what I did this weekend! What? NO! Get your mind out of the gutter! The correct answer was “shot an apple cannon.”

Yes, you should be jealous.

In between all the wild parties I was definitely not going to, some friends and I mosied on down to a local apple orchard (Why? Because we could. Us wild college kids aren’t bound by rules.) and found a lovely place full of apples and good food. We also found a corn maze. The prize for completing the corn maze, you ask?

A chance to shoot the apple cannon!

Here’s how it went down. We wandered around the corn maze for a bit, and somehow managed to get lost even though the maze was made for kids and we could see over the rows of corn. Then, when we finally made it out, we got the ok to head over to the apple cannon.

Apple cannon!

Basically, we were given one shot to hit a target hanging  maybe 20 yards away. (I missed, but only by a few inches.) However, I envision it more like this.

Yep, pretty much. One day, when I have conquered the Internet, I will command my legions of minions to build me an apple cannon. Until then, I wait. I wait.

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Camping Part 3: The Last Crusade

Internet, drum roll please.

When my last post ended, I and the rest of my writing class were on top of a mountain. I’ve had some guesses in the comments as to what happened next, but now the wait is over. What happened next is…

We walked back to camp! Exciting, huh?

To elaborate, we walked back down the particularly steep section of the trail, then sort of sat at the bottom while our professor sent us back in five-minute intervals to a point about 2 miles down the trail, which incidentally was half way back to camp. It was kind of nice, because it provided us an opportunity to walk alone for a bit while still having people nearby. You know, in case of cougar attack.

In my typical fashion, I caused a bit of a back up behind me by walking  slowly and taking pictures. (Or were the people behind me just walking quickly? A question for the ages.) However, since the way back was predominantly down hill and the amount of oxygen was steadily increasing, the trek back was quite pleasant. Except, you know, for the part where my legs were about to fall off.

We all got back to camp without incident, excepting one rolled ankle (not mine) and I plopped down on the ground and enjoyed watching other people gather firewood. I helped too… eventually. We stopped gathering when our professor told us we had enough for the next six days.

That night was chilly, so we all huddled around the fire and scarfed down some of the excellent food prepared by the kind OPC people (outdoor pursuits center, for those that have forgotten). Oh, and our professor made a loaf of bread. It was delicious.

For those of you who have never experienced it (you sad souls you) staring into a fire for a few hours is quite entertaining. I especially like the conversations it generates among the people sitting around the fire. At one point we were all telling jokes. I told one about drunk Superman, and before you judge me I learned that joke at a family Thanksgiving. Ok, now judge me.

Before some one in my immediate family takes me to task on this, yes I was throwing small twigs into the fire half the time and watching them burn. Some people have ADD, I have a tiny amount of pyromania (the kind limited to situations in which there is a campfire). Oh, and since I promised to tell you about wearing three pairs of pants, I suppose I had better tell you that at this point I was in fact wearing three pairs of pants. I had the fetching tights n’ shorts combo I went hiking in, then skinny jeans, then my incredibly attractive bright blue pajama pants (they have birds on them!). And I was still a little cold, so there.

Eventually, we went to bed. We were woken at 5:30 the next morning (mountain time zone) to get ready for our 3 hour solo. Basically, we had to sit alone in the semi-darkness for 3 hours. Like the solo walk, we were close enough to each other to scream for help but far enough away that we felt alone. The place I was looked over a dry creek bed, with a cliff/ hill rising steeply on the other side. At the base of the incline was a really cool rock formation that looked a bit like a shoddily assembled Lego creation. So of course I climbed it.

Basically, my solo was divided into writing (about 6 pages of angst, if you please… well, 5 and a half pages of angst and half a page of reason), climbing/ sitting on the cliff/ hill thing (I climbed about 10 feet up, then thought that falling to my death was probably a bad thing, so I got a couple of footholds and was able to sit down and survey the creek bed and surrounding woods), and pacing around like a madwoman to keep warm (it didn’t really work). To explain a bit about the writing, we were supposed to come up with a problem and then take the three hours alone to think and write about it. Unfortunately, my solution was kind of a non-solution (it involves “waiting” and “taking my time”- sissy stuff), but there ya’ go.

When we got back to came, the wilderness fairies (by which I mean the OPC people) had packed up the tents for us, so we had minimal work to do before we headed back to good old civilization. On the drive back, we discovered that there was an entire giant lake in the national forest where we were that we had completely missed driving in in the dark. Also, we stopped at a gas station and I bought 3 kinds of candy. I have no regrets.

The trip came to its end when we got back to campus, looking a bit like refugees with our dirty clothes and worn bags. I chose to complete the look by refusing to take off my beanie, which I was using to hide the sorry state of my hair (the campsite had no showers, if I haven’t mentioned it before).

I’m going camping again weekend after next.

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Camping Part 2: The Altitude!

On the second day of camping, my true love gave to me a freezing morning. Internet, take my word for it that crawling out of your warm sleeping bag, inside your warm tent, to be greeted weather in the 30’s (fahrenheit) and someone telling you that it’s time to climb a mountain is not the most pleasant way to wake up.

However, once I looked around and realized that the woods were beautiful and not full of serial killers (contrary to my impression of the previous night), I cheered up a bit and stamped about the campground trying to keep warm. Foolishly, I had not packed sweat pants, so the lower half of me was shorts n’ tight while my upper half resembled a marshmallow.

As I mentioned before, this trip was required for a class, and as such was run by some of the lovely people from the outdoor pursuits center (OPC) at my university, all of whom could probably find their way back to civilization after being dropped in the middle of Alaska with only a pocket knife and some gum. You know, probably.

Anyway, we tried to make omelets for breakfast by putting eggs and assorted toppings in plastic bags and letting the OPC people boil them, but that didn’t really work (I blame the altitude) so we sort of poured them out of the bags and my professor cooked them on the underside of a dutch oven lid. It worked out.

As we were about to hit the trail, I took off my marshmallow jacket, knowing that after about 10 minutes of hiking I would no longer need it. That didn’t stop me from shivering for those ten minutes though.

The route we followed was 9 miles round trip, and thus 4.5 miles each way. The midpoint of the hike was a mountain ridge that was about 9000 feet above sea level.

Now, I’m not sure what the elevation of our camp site was, but I know that my university can’t be much over 3000 feet. Thus, my out of shape self did not appreciate being dragged through the thin air at a pace that I can only describe as cruelly moderate. That is, it was fine at first but after about 3 miles of hiking over loose dirt at an ever-increasing elevation (so many hills!) it was pretty brutal. And of course my professor telling us that we only had half a mile to go to the ridge when in fact it was more like a mile did not help matters.

In between panting for breath and cursing my lack of an exercise routine, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the place was. We were, for the most part, surrounded by pine trees, which turned to aspen as we increased in elevation. The sight of the yellow aspen leaves, which had fallen atop a series of dark grey rocks, seemed particularly poignant. But of course the burning in my legs captured much of my attention.

Around mile 4, the trees thinned out and became a sort of high altitude grassland. (I say high altitude not being a real mountain climber… or any sort of mountain climber. It was probably about 8700 feet.) It wasn’t long after that before it was time for… the final ascent. (dun dun dunn)

Basically, the last quarter of a mile or so was way steeper than the rest of the hike. By this time the majority of the class (save a select few) were pretty exhausted/out of breath due to lack of the presence of air, so it was pretty brutal. Eventually, though, we all got to the top. A few people (definitely not me) even beat our professor. It’s an achievement, believe me.

So there we were, on top of a mountain. What happened next? I’ll give you a hint. Either

a) Bears ate us

b) We developed the ability to teleport back to camp

or

c) We walked back down the mountain

Come back Friday for the riveting conclusion to my adventures in the wilderness!

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Camping Part 1: The Journey to the Mountains

Hey Internet. As you likely know from my previous post, I went camping this weekend. Since it was a three-day adventure and all, I thought I’d milk this for as long as possible and tell you my tale in three parts.

In many ways, this trip was a story of layers. No, not like in Shrek. Rather, the temperature gods demanded that I constantly take off and put on a variety of shirts, jackets, sweaters, and even pants. Yes, pants. (At one point I was wearing three pairs, but you’ll  have to wait until this Friday’s post to read about that.)

We left Friday afternoon. It was hot here in University Land, but unfortunately it was the kind of hot that doesn’t bother you until you’ve stood outside for 30 minutes, by which point it is of course too late to get your act together and change into a t-shirt.

The trip got off to a rollicking start when my friend the Hashmaster and I thought it would be a good idea to walk the whole way across campus lugging our camping gear. And it’s a big campus. Here’s a rough chart of our journey.

By the time we arrived, we were slightly disheveled and had learned an important lesson. Namely, the value of friends with cars.

While we waited for the rest of the class to arrive, there was a great deal of standing on the sidewalk, huddled against the edge of the building where it was shady. Of course, being highly intelligent, I was wearing a long-sleeved thermal shirt not unlike this one (attractive, huh?), so I melted a little bit before we got in the vans and took off.

It was a 6 hour drive over flat country that became progressively more mountainous, though by the time we really got into the mountains it was too dark to see much of anything.

On the way we stopped for dinner in the shining metropolis of Roswell, New Mexico, a.k.a. Alienville. As some of my ancestors might have said, the place was ‘et up with aliens. And as I might say, there were aliens freaking everywhere. The place is obviously a fading alien boomtown. We ate dinner in a Mexican restaurant with paintings of aliens dressed as a mariachi band on the windows. We also saw a shirt that said “Aliens don’t scare me- I’m from Texas.” I’m not sure if it was awesome or horrifying.

Once we left that colorful little splotch of the world, we drove a few more hours and eventually ended up on the world’s creepiest dirt road. It was completely dark except for an insane amount of stars, so all we could see was the vague outlines of various tall trees as we bumped along. We also passed a variety of dilapidated buildings that almost definitely housed serial killers. (One of these buildings was declared “the slaughterhouse” by a guy in the van, and I must admit he had a point.)

Finally, we got to the campsite and set up our tents in the dark, because we are amazing. And that was the end of Friday’s adventures. Stay tuned!

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I’m Going Camping

Hello there, fair Internet. (Only the fairest of the Internet is allowed to read my blog. If you’re reading this, then congratulations!) This weekend, I am going on a camping trip to some mountains. Strangely, it’s required for the English class that I’m in. Of course usually English nerds+nature=disaster, but we’ll see how this goes. By the time I get back, I will have:

1) Hiked 9 miles… up a mountain.

2) Sat by a creek for 3 hours. Alone with the bears.

3) Frozen to death.

That third one is optional.

So! Hopefully this Monday’s post will be full of anecdotes about nature and hilarious shenanigans, and possibly the meaning of life. Or maybe I’ll just complain about how cold I was for 500 words. Wish me luck!

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The Cat from the Underworld

I’ll be honest with you, Internet. I’m a cat person. In fact, if my future husband doesn’t hurry up and propose to me in the rain I may eventually become a fully fledged crazy cat lady. But I think I’ve got a few more years until I’m in danger of that. Hopefully. (Don’t have a heart attack, people who care about me. There’s no danger of me running off and getting married way too young.)

With that in mind, I think you’ll understand when I tell you I wasn’t entirely thrilled when, senior year of high school, my AP Biology class was set the task of dissecting cats.

Before we began, our teacher told us the story of these cats pre-death. Apparently most of them were alley cats picked up off the streets of Mexico by desperate men willing to do anything to feed their families. Understandably, the cats were a little… well, rough-looking.

I knew things were off to a bad start when we opened the plastic our unfortunate cat had been preserved in and discovered that it had been packed sideways, resulting in a squished dead cat (as opposed to the regular kind). Oh, and did I mention the smell? Because it was awful. My olfactory nerve nearly rioted. But I digress.

Before being shipped off to high school science students, the cats (once they were dead) had to going through 2 processes. First, they had to be preserved in a chemical similar to formaldehyde. Then, latex had to be pumped into their arteries and veins (red and blue, respectively) so that we biology students could differentiate between the two.

We got the cat unsquished enough to pin it down, and then my very brave friend started dissecting (I hung back, looking wary.) I had a feeling that things were a little off when our cat’s intestines looked different from those of the other cats (as in, sort of shriveled and rotten-looking). But, just like the French aristocracy circa 1780, I ignored the warning signs. And then a bloody revolution broke out.

That is to say, our cat started to rot. We knew something was wrong when the intestines started to putrefy. First, they started to look like the sort of thing you’d use as a potion ingredient. Then, they looked like the sort of thing you’d find in a cauldron after you’ve left the witches from Macbeth alone with it. Oh, and the smell got worse.

Eventually, my teacher* solved the problem by pouring an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol on our cat. It helped the smell for a little bit, and probably prevented us all dying of plague. I may be emotionally scarred, though.

And of course next week was the lab practical…

*None of this was my teacher’s fault. Were we sent a defective/evil cat.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Procrastination

Well Internet, over a long and illustrious career, I have put a lot of work off until the last minute. And I mean a lot. Now, I honed this art through years of study in my AP (Advanced Procrastination) classes, but in the interest of instant gratification I am willing to give you- yes, YOU- the tips you need to start on the long slope down to the mastery of this craft.

1. Wait until the last minute. This one should be obvious. If, for example, you have time to write your essay at any less than the speed of light, you’re doing it wrong. How do you tell when the last minute is? First, calculate how long it will take you to complete the assignment, for example, 3 hours. Now, is it due more than 3 hours from now? Good. You can go back to watching videos of babies laughing.

2. Just don’t think about it. It’s tough to be a successful procrastinator if you are constantly tormented by your responsibilities. But the whole point of procrastination is to do something- anything- more enjoyable than your work. If said activity takes your mind off your worries, then you’re golden.

3. Pull it off.  The successful procrastinator puts their assignments off until the last minute, but still gets them done. (I’ll cover how to do this in my coming guide, How to Write a Shoddy Essay.) If you don’t get your work done, you’re just kind of lazy. Also, you’re going to fail, and you have to be passing all your classes in order to maintain your membership in the Procrastinator’s Club.

Hopefully this guide has been helpful and informative. Good luck in your future endeavors, procrastinators!

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