Almost Jeans

7 January 2002

As is my wont, I've been reading the newspaper this morning. Sigh. I would have hoped that one of the skills newspaper writers and editors would possess is the ability to break (or, more importantly, not to break) an article (that is, knowing where to put the jump to the next page). Yet on the front page of the Arts & Entertainment section of the Merc, I find, "In the 1950s, the Strip seemed overwhelmed with showgirls, who batted their false eyelashes and bobbed their enormous" -- see page four. Fill in the blank there as you see fit. I turned to page four and found out the end of the sentence was "headpieces at just about every major casino along Las Vegas Boulevard." Oh. Right, headpieces. I was thinking it was the headpieces all along. That just seems like the sort of thing we'd have done on purpose in high school to see if we could get it past Mrs. Rice, the journalism teacher.

Not that it was hard to get stuff past Mrs. Rice. There's a bit in one of my yearbooks where the yearbook staff (in the person of Ellen Grady) substituted "small Korean men" into a sentence where "school supplies" belonged.

Elsewhere in the newspaper, George Will claimed that North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota are the five top states in the nation for SAT scores because they have large percentages of intact families. Maybe this is true. But what jumped out at me is that those are all Midwestern states. No, this is not a rant on the superiority of the Midwest. Actually, quite this opposite.

See, in the Midwest, there's this other test, the ACT, that's considered an alternative to the SAT for many of the colleges and universities in the area. In Nebraska and Iowa, at least, you didn't take the SAT unless you were rather serious about getting scholarships and/or intended to go far away to school. For the most part (and there are always exceptions), the SAT was the test of the elite, as long as elite is defined rather loosely. Timprov says that it wasn't quite like that in Minnesota, that there was a fairly even split in who took which, and that either test was likely to represent a full spectrum of the population. Maybe so. But it's a cultural tidbit that seems rather relevant -- if the whole of the college-going group on the coasts is taking the SAT, and a smaller fraction is taking it in the Midwest, wouldn't you want to at least take that into account? Wouldn't you want to at least ask yourself which fraction?

Well, I would.

Totally unrelated to the newspaper, my DSG account is still not picking up mail, and hotmail is once again up and down. I think I shall cry.

Okay, maybe I won't. But it was a near thing for a moment there.

I finished Oliver Sacks' Uncle Tungsten yesterday, and it was a nice mixture of personal memoir and history of chemistry. Towards the end, he started talking about early quantum mechanics and the experiments related thereto. I was surprised at how firm and visceral my responses are to these experiments. The Franck-Hertz experiment, for example, is a cheerful, happy experiment, filling one with joie de vivre. A lovely thing. The mass of the electron -- also a sweet little experiment, a cartwheels-in-the-hall kind of experiment. Whereas the very mention of Rutherford Scattering is enough to make me a little nauseated. Our Rutherford Scattering apparatus involved a pump that, in the process of creating a vacuum in the scattering chamber, perfumed the air with clouds and clouds of lubricating oil. Yum. That was when it was working properly. When it was not, it burned rubber instead. Yum. And the data analysis -- let us not even consider the data analysis. Similarly, the Millikan Oil-Drop experiment gives me twinges of an eyestrain headache at its very mention.

Some of the theory stuff is like this. Rotations over 4p, for example, make me giggle at the thought of Tom's impossibly long arms demonstrating a 4p rotation with his coffee cup full of water -- once without spilling the water. Tom was one of my favorite profs. He had big shy puppy eyes and arms so long that when he'd point to something on the chalkboard you'd swear you had Inspector Gadget for a professor. And, oh, did he love theory. And so did I, so it worked out well. But for the most part, it's the experiments that get strong reactions wiggled down in the basement of my brain, even now. I didn't really realize it until I read Uncle Tungsten.

It's okay for me to admit that I miss it now. Earlier, it would have meant that I was wrong to leave it. I know I was right to leave it; I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. But that doesn't mean I couldn't ooh and aah over the flat-backed oscilloscopes at Fry's, and it doesn't mean that I am untouched with a misty smile at the thought of gamma detection experiments.

I started The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint yesterday. Hoo boy, is that a badly structured book. It's just all over the place. And so far it looks like de Lint is doing just the opposite of Sayers' dirty trick yesterday: making sure that all the possible Bunters, anyone who might be my favorite secondary character, will show up in this book. I've read all the Newford books and short stories, so I can deal with this. I don't have a problem remembering all of the characters. But it is not a book for people who are new to the series, or even newish.

I'm going to the post office this morning (we didn't make it Saturday), and that means that I need to get cleaned up etc. And put on the new jeans. Sigh. Round about a year ago, after many trials and tribulations, I bought myself a new pair of jeans. (Our local mall stocks very many large sizes, very few small ones. This was not as easy as it should have been.) They were not Unreasonably Good Pants, but they're reasonably good pants. I could deal with them. They're comfortable and fit decently enough -- and they're a Macy's store brand, so I know where to get them.

So for Christmas, I told Mark and my parents that I would like more jeans. I told them brand, style, and size. Mark was dispatched to Macy's to get a pair from my folks, and he also got a pair from him. He got the right thing, brand, style, and size. Yay, reasonably good jeans!

Um. Well, actually, not yay. Because I put them on and thought, "These are big." And then I thought, "Well, maybe they shrink fast in the dryer. I'll just shrink them up." I washed them. I thoroughly dried them. They have not shrunk an iota. They're not falling off my hips, and they're not tripping me up under my heels. But I can put both hands in the front of them perpendicular to my body, and I was hoping they'd be more fitted than that.

One of the reasons it annoys me is that it appears they're cutting the sizes bigger in yet another brand. Which is annoying enough if you don't consider that this is the smallest size they make in this brand. I have no great emotional attachment to being a size 6. I already wear a 4 in some brands, I guess I can wear more of them if I really have to. I draw the line at 2. 2 is a ridiculous size. 2 is a size for which your friends can rightfully make fun of you. But when they change the sizes so that I can't buy their clothes any more, I get a bit snippy. I'm not that little a person. There is no reason why I should be too small for an "average" line of clothing.

Grr. So there.

Despite ranting at the newspaper people and the jeans people and so on, I'm in a pretty good mood. I'm feeling muuuuuch better after a recuperating weekend, and I got good work done on the Not The Moose Book, and things are humming along rather well. I'm going to have a good time running errands and a good time at home. I'm just Miss Mary Sunshine this year. Tra la la.

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