Archive for May, 2008
30 May, 2008 – 1:31 pm | Filed under memories, personal, school, tv | No Comments »
My team was at Firehouse Subs for our weekly Friday lunch outing, and I was filling up my drink when I caught a snatch of some very familiar-sounding dialogue–a child’s voice, pronouncing a word and spelling it out with a peculiar clarity. My head jerked up and I looked around quickly, then looked up and realized there was a TV suspended over me. I took two steps back to peer around at the front, and sure enough, it was the Scripps National Spelling Bee!
I will admit that I’m a spelling bee fangirl. I love it. I miss the deep cadences of Dr. Cameron’s speaking voice, but have come to look forward to current pronouncer Dr. Bailly’s slightly higher-pitched voice as he reads out the hundreds of words to these brilliant kids. I love watching them as they work their way through each word, asking the requisite questions: Can I have the definition? Can you use it in a sentence? Can I have the language of origin? Or even, Does the ___ part of this word come from the root word ___ in Greek, which means ___? I clap for, cringe in sympathy for, and cheer on these kids yearly.
This isn’t a purely random interest. I won our county spelling bee in the 6th grade (“pagoda”, ironically, considering that I went on to spend two years of my life in Japan), losing narrowly in the district bee on “pacificism,” more commonly known as “pacifism”–the proctor screwed up the pronunciation, and I came in 3rd, with 1st and 2nd going on to the state bee (2nd place lost on “podunk” and 1st won on “disappoint”…yeah). I sometimes still wonder what Could Have Been. I will admit that it was a chore back then, and I didn’t have the drive needed to make it to the nationals, but now it’s an avid fascination.
It’s fascinating, the lengths these kids go to for this competition. And it goes beyond just stringing letters together–sometimes it’s a matter of chance, if you get a word you haven’t heard but think you can spell because you understand the spelling conventions it could be following due to its language of origin.
And there’s that dreaded sound that makes the entire audience slump back in their seats as one and sigh, “Aww…”: The Bell. The one that sounds when a speller’s made a spelling mistake. The kids’ faces are like open books–you can see how it all plays out, you can see what’s going through their minds, whether it was a near miss they anticipated, whether they waited in dread because they knew they’d messed up, or whether it was a total surprise.
Every single year it comes on, I think about signing up to go out to DC and volunteer for the following year. Every single year I forget. Maybe one of these years!
I have tentative plans tonight to go out to dinner with a meetup.com group here in Atlanta (a group whose events I’ve never attended, so it’s not like they’re expecting me), but I think I may ditch in favor of finding a friend with a TV so I can watch the two-hour finals live tonight.
16 May, 2008 – 11:32 am | Filed under Tags: awesome, useful design, products | 1 Comment »
Post-It Sheer Color notes are such an excellent idea. Instead of the notes obscuring the page, you can add an extra layer of personalized notes without vandalizing the book underneath! I think I’ll be buying these in bulk when I go back to grad school next year.
(Via Design Crush, one of my daily reads.)
15 May, 2008 – 8:42 pm | Filed under Tags: airport stories, amma, awww, haha! family, personal | No Comments »
It didn’t take me long to let this slip by the wayside, did it? Oops.
My grandmother flew in from Ohio earlier this week to spend a couple of months with us, and also to attend my younger brother’s upcoming high school graduation ceremony (he was in kindergarten when I was in 9th grade, so this all makes me feel pretty old…). My mom usually picks her up from the airport, but this time she wouldn’t have been able to get off work in time to meet her. Knowing how much I like going to the airport, she asked me to get her, and put in a request with the reservation for me to get a gate pass, to go through security and greet her at the gate.
I pulled into the North Terminal parking deck and turned down an aisle, ostensibly to cut through to the row closest to the terminal to save my grandmother from walking so far…but we ended up sitting there, for about five minutes, while the guy four or five cars up (there was a line now) waited for a family to load up their car, get in, back out, and give him the spot. The guy behind me started honking repeatedly in frustration.
Anyway, the car pulled out, the first car in line pulled in, and we all were on our merry way. I did indeed score a spot on the first row, and the guy behind me pulled into the spot next to mine. I got my things together and got out of the car when he did, and he looked at me a little apologetically. “I wasn’t honking at you, just to let you know,” he assured me. I laughed and told him not to worry about it, and we grumbled a little bit over one guy holding everyone up for a spot when there were plenty to be had all around, since it was a Tuesday evening–not exactly a peak travel time.
I got to the AirTran counter about one and a half hours before Amma‘s flight was scheduled to arrive. The ticketing agent took my driver’s license and the flight information, hesitated, squinted at the screen, looked at my license, looked back at the screen again, and informed me that not my name but my mother’s was listed. While she refused to let me through, she did say that if my mom called 1-800-AIRTRAN right then, they could get my name into the reservation in time for me to get to the gate.
I called my mom to inform her, and she was astonished and livid. She’d taken down my name as it appeared on my driver’s license, even spelling it out letter-for-letter on the phone, and they still somehow screwed it up. She told me she’d call immediately and then would call me back.
Ten minutes went by without a call, so I called home. Mom said that yes, she just did it, so go give it another try. This time I was successful, and a friendly agent printed off a slip for me to take as my gate pass and informed me that the gate was C-13. This all surprised me for two reasons:
- the slip she printed out for me was a boarding pass from Atlanta to Newport News, except it looked more like a sales receipt than an actual pass
- C-13? I thought I’d heard that a lot of airports didn’t have gates numbered 13, for superstitious reasons; certainly, a lot of western aircraft don’t have a row 13.
I made it through security without incident, though I hoped that the TSA agents would recognize the slip for what it was, but luckily they did. I walked to Concourse C instead of taking the train, passing by the exhibits of art, photos, and sculptures from Zimbabwe between Concourses A and T. Once I got to the gate I hung out for a half-hour or so, listening to music and reading a book. It brought back a lot of memories of pre-9/11 airport trips, going to see people off and meeting them at their gates. It was especially exciting getting to watch the plane pull into the terminal and knowing my grandmother was aboard.
The passengers began to file off, and still I didn’t see her. I rationalized that because she’s elderly, it would take her a while to come up the jetway, but I couldn’t help but feel a touch anxious. A family who’d just deplaned noticed me hovering, and a woman of about 30 asked if I was waiting for my grandmother. I told her I was, and she assured me that she was coming up the jetway then, and sure enough, she emerged a moment later and gave me a big smile.
We had requested wheelchair service for Amma, since, due to her age, it was hard for her to walk such long distances as Atlanta’s concourses require. After some confusion, with the woman with the wheelchair randomly wandering off and one of the gate agents having to chase her down, and then realizing there were two wheelchair requests and having to wait on the second person to show up, and then the guy assisting us running into another and swapping with him, we finally were with a young-ish gentleman from Ethiopia, a friendly guy with a really lovely accent who chatted with us and was amazed that my grandmother could speak fluent English–but amazed in an amusing way.
We arrived at the baggage claim and he helped her out of the wheelchair. We thanked him and he started to walk away, and I wondered belatedly if we should have tipped him. Amma was wondering that, too, as she asked me the very same thing in Tamil, and I told her I really didn’t know.
She then swung around and shouted, “Hey, boy!” to get his attention. (In English, obviously.)
My jaw dropped and I clapped my hand over my mouth and turned away as I tried so hard not to burst into shocked, embarrassed laughter. But she did indeed get his attention, and he came back over, and she tipped him and thanked him again. He looked a little chagrined at being referred to as ‘boy,’ but pleased about the tip, so I guess it was the right thing to do. Sort of.
As we waited for her bags to come around the carousel, I leaned down and told her quietly, “Um, maybe you should just say ‘Excuse me’ next time. ‘Hey, boy’ is a little…er…”
She grinned back, amused. “But I’m an elderly woman!” she said in Tamil. “I think he’ll understand. And I don’t think he would have heard me, or realized I was talking to him, if I’d just said ‘excuse me.’”
She did have a point.
So we collected her bags, went to my car, and drove 45 minutes back to my parents’ place, where we had a warm homecoming and yummy home-cooked food. It’s so nice to have her here, and I can’t wait to spend more time with her.
7 May, 2008 – 10:48 pm | Filed under personal, site | 1 Comment »
This would be that obligatory “hey, new blog!” post–except that I’ve been doing this long enough that the “ooh, shiny” phase is very much over.
But to anybody who sees this, hello! And, possibly, hello again! Several of my friends in Japan and from college asked if I’d be starting a new public journal site upon my departure from Tokushima last summer, and now that I’ve finally shut the Japan journal down, it’s definitely time to start up a new one.
I want this to be a mix of personal and introspective posts like the Japan journal (okay, maybe not quite as long as those entries were), as well as more topic-oriented posts, like web/graphic/interaction design, music, animation, geology, astronomy, language…pretty much all the categories I’m interested in. So, essentially, five or six mini-blogs in one. I’ll worry about any complex implementation later, though.
Intro posts are always kind of sucky, huh? Any time I see one, I always wish the author would have spent that time actually creating real content, instead of writing the equivalent of, “Is this thing on?” And here I find myself doing that, because it feels weird jumping in without establishing the groundwork first. Heh, oh well.
Visitors: leave a comment and let me know you stopped by!
And of course, this design will be changing. Oh, yes. The name might, too.