July 31, 2003

Pirates of the Caribbean

It's been nearly a week since I watched Pirates of the Caribbean in the theater, I only hope that I can remember enough of it to write an effective review. Well if I don't maybe Andrew can help me fill in some of the gaps. This film is actually based on a theme park ride. Usually it's the other way around; almost anyone on the street can recall a theme park ride that was based on a movie. While at the theater I happened to see a preview for The Haunted Mansion which looked like it may be another ride-gone-movie-plot. I guess the well at Disney has about run dry...

In the opening sequence we see a little girl at the prow of a ship who is singing a pirate song. Other occupants of of the vessel discourage her from doing this, but she secretly wishes to know more about pirates. She spies a boy about her age floating on a piece of wreckage. He is immediately pulled on deck and the girl is charged with looking after him. He has a coin on a chain fastened around his neck. It appears like it should belong to a pirate and so she takes and conceals it from the rest of the crew. In the next scene we encounter the once little girl as young woman. Her name is Elizabeth Swann. Her father happens to be the governor of the little sea port where they reside. Her father has bought Elizabeth a lovely dress. He brings it to her room and announces himself. She scrambles to hide the medallion, which was sitting in a dusty drawer prior to her pulling it out to admire, around her neck and under her nightgown. The fit of the newly acquired dress requires that she wear a corset cinched up so tightly that her breathing is constricted. Garbed in the new fancy attire she goes out on an overlook with the commodore, a man who hopes to eventually woo and wed Elizabeth. He pops the question and she hyperventilates and drops off into the water.

We see a pirate riding aboard a sinking ship. He is greeted by fellow pirates dangling from their neck bones, long since dead. Just as the mast goes underwater he steps off it onto a dock. He proceeds to slip past two men guarding a ship moored offshore when their attention slips. The pirate has already confiscated the ship when he notices Elizabeth falling from the sky. When he determined that neither of the guards can help her, he hands over his things and dives right into the water. He successfully withdraws Elizabeth. Despite having preserved his love's life, the commodore wants to hang the pirate, who we now know is the captain Jack Sparrow. While Elizabeth defends his life, he takes her hostage. He holds onto her long enough to get safely away.

Jack runs into a blacksmith's shop, he finds someone who he presumes to be the blacksmith himself, and determines that he is out like a rock. While he splits the chain that connects his manacles together the real blacksmith returns, whose name is Will Turner. They duel and Jack is taken back into custody. This time he's not so lucky and gets locked up in a cell. There's some other pirates in the prison with him, awaiting their turn to be hanged. They try to escape, by bribing the mutt who keeps the keys, with a bare bone. They get out soon enough anyway.

Some pirates from a ship called the Black Pearl land on the port and during the ensuing battle with the inhabitants a hole is blown into the cell that all the other pirates are in. The invading pirates search for the coin Elizabeth had out and on her person earlier. When they meet up with her they can sense that she has it. She lies to them about her last name and gives the blacksmith's surname (Turner) instead. She only did that so they wouldn't know who her father is. They kidnap, well not precisely kidnap, her and return to their ship. In exchange for giving them back their medallion she asks the captain that they leave the port and not do any more damage. They both agree to the discussed terms, but they did not cover what was to come of Elizabeth herself and consequently she had to stay aboard.

Back onshore it quickly becomes apparent that not only does the commodore have strong feelings for Elizabeth, but so does the blacksmith, Will. They have wildly different ideas of how to rescue the woman they love from the pirates' grasp. Will teams up with Jack Sparrow and together the two swipe the ship that the pirate had in mind to earlier. We learn more along the way, such things as the reason why the pirates of the Black Pearl are so keen on getting all of the gold coins back in their possession and what Will's father has to do with anything at all.

I thought this was a very entertaining movie. Johnny Depp was perfect for the role of Jack Sparrow. I laughed quite a bit along with the rest of the theater's occupants. I can't wait to add this one to our collection of DVDs.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 06:42 PM


We rented two movies last night on our way home from grocery shopping, Daredevil and Solaris. We only had time enough to watch the first of those with our evening meal. Daredevil turned out to be what we were expecting. I thought the opening credits in braille were a bit excessive; Andrew disagreed with me. He felt that it added something to the overall effect of the film, and further, that they were simply a neat concept. Anyway, onto the plot.

The main character of the story is named Matthew Murdock. In the beginning of the film we are introduced to him as a young boy and we learn that his father is a prize-fighter. He does not want his son becoming a fighter like he did to get by. He would rather see him be a doctor or a lawyer and otherwise have a positive impact on society. It is because of how his dad feels that Matthew refuses to let the neighborhood bullies antagonize him to violence. One day little Matthew makes the startling discovery that his daddy is just a thug. Matthew runs off at the sight of his father roughing some guy up and he wound up being in the wrong place at just the wrong time. A forklift cuts open a canister containing hazardous chemicals and they spray out into the child's eyes, permanently blinding him. He awakes in the hospital to find that his other four senses were now compensating for the one he had lost. The father and son make a pact to always and only fight for the underdogs of society. Someone tries to coerce dad to take a spill his next time in the ring but he resists doing so. He may have won the fight, but he ultimately lost his life. Matthew also keeps up his end of the agreement. He grows up to become a lawyer by day and superhero who exacts justice by night, in a neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen. A fiery beauty wins Matthew's affection when she refuses to reveal her name and proves that she can kick some ass. We later learn that she is named Elektra Natchios and is the daughter of a very wealthy man. Her mother had been murdered by the men her father works for and now she fears for his safety. Enter the bad guys the King Pin and Bullseye.

Overall I thought the choreography in the film was pretty good. More money could have been put toward the animation as it was pretty painful stuff to watch. To reiterate what I said earlier, this movie met our expectations of how a superhero movie, largely based on action sequences, should be. I look forward to watching Solaris this evening, even if Andrew doesn't, and getting a review of the movie written and uploaded sometime tomorrow.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 04:37 PM

Takeover Screws Me Over

I woke up this morning to find that someone had "borrowed" my e-mail address to use it to takeover someone else's eBay account. Unfortunately my e-mail address also served as my eBay account ID and things got tangled up. I'm still waiting for things to get straightened out. There's not much of anything I can do until they send the e-mail informing me of what they changed my password to. I'm frustrated with the situation, to say the least.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 03:19 PM

July 30, 2003

Five More

I am finally finished with Gaiman's Neverwhere and it sure took me long enough. I first opened it up on the 18th of this month. I made the decision today to modify my original goal of completing twenty-five select titles over the summer down to a more modest twelve. That leaves me with five more to go before classes start back up. I'm having a little trouble choosing which of the five I pulled out to move on to first. My only priority is to finish those books that I have already begun to read which comprise a large portion of my initial list.

And Eternity, by author Piers Anthony, is book seven of the Incarnations of Immortality series. I read the first six books of the series early in 2002. I became distracted by school work and never got back around to completing this one. I just now found a bookmark I thought I'd lost to the great void stuck in between pages 36 and 37. Apparently I hadn't gone that far into it, which is a good thing because I feel as though I need to start it again from the first page. Then there's the play "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. This was assigned reading for the Philosophy in Literature course that I had in my first semester at GMU. The class never got around to it. I didn't sell it back because I had previously heard good things about it and I wanted to make time to read it on my own. The corner of page 13 is folded down on this one. I brought it with me to Florida in June when I visited my mother. We were having such a good time I never even took it out of the car. Next I have here Philosophy for Beginners by Richard Osborne. This is a neat little comic book a friend showed me while I was taking Philosophy 100 also in my first semester at GMU. I purchased my own copy while I was still attending the class, but I didn't make any real progress with it until over this summer. I'm presently a little more than halfway through it (I'm specifically on the first page of the German Enlightenment). Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is the next book in this short stack of five. I did start this book at one point, but I was exhausted at the time and skipped one of the first few pages (not deliberately, they just stuck together). Consequently, I became annoyed and put it back on the book shelf. Since the last few books I've read were by Gaiman I feel an obligation to keep the trend going with this final work. At the bottom of the pile is a biography. I find myself almost ashamed to share who it is of. That is the main reason I want to just read it and cast it out of my collection forever. I never even put a book plate in it. Ok, I'll tell you, but you have to promise that you won't laugh: Alanis Morisette. Stop laughing dammit!! Did I fail to mention that it was in the bargain shelves at Barnes and Noble for a mere $4.98? The sticker is still plastered to the lower left-hand corner of the cover. Perhaps I haven't shared my weakness for first, things on sale and for second, books about anything and nothing in particular? Well.

After all that discussion I still don't know what I want to read next.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 06:07 PM

July 29, 2003

Fall Semester

Classes start up again on August 25th. I'll be taking fifteen credit hours. On Mondays and Wednesdays I'll be on campus. I stuck to taking just twelve credit hours for my first two semesters at GMU and my classes were primarily held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Things are going to be a bit different this time around, but I think I'm ready for the change. The classes I am enrolled in are Western Civilization, Introduction to Classical Music, Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions, Dimensions of Writing/Literature, and the lab for that last class I mentioned. Only one of my professors this next semester will have a familiar face, and that's Dr. Ro, who I had for Religions of the Orient in the spring and I tremendously enjoyed having him as a teacher. This time I will have him for Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions.

I just got off the phone with the university bookstore and three of my four classes (not counting the lab as a class) all have had books assigned to them. The odd one out is Introduction to Classical Music. The total monetary damage I am looking at so far comes to $198. The total number of books I am looking at having to haul around so far comes to six. That's not nearly as bad as it could be. I am probably going to go buy all of the used books they had in stock on Saturday afternoon. That way, I won't get stuck paying outrageous amounts of money for new and I'll get a decent jump start on my reading. I'm such a nerd :).

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:24 AM

July 28, 2003


Arlington (VA) received lots of lovely rain this afternoon. As previously discussed, rain makes me happy. I pulled out Neverwhere, put the kettle on, made me some Mental ClariTea, and I snuggled up on one of our spacey looking chairs situated in front of a big picture window located in the living room. As a bonus, it began to rain later in the evening as well. I wasn't in a position to do any reading then. We were having dinner. That's okay though :). I have my shower to look forward to... We bought a Waterpik Cascadia shower head over the weekend and I can personally tell you that the sensation is like standing in a drenching rain. This artificial rain certainly beats regular rain, because you get to stand in it with your clothes off.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:13 PM

The Source of the Pattern

On Friday night Andrew and I watched the top twenty of the Top 200 Icons of All Time on VH1. Neither one of us accurately guessed that Oprah would be hailed as number one. I was expecting it to be the "Material Girl" and Andrew anticipated it to be "The King." The next day I turned on the television and it was still stuck on the same channel. I caught some of the previous parts of the countdown that we had missed. Eventually, they arrived on number 152 and it was introduced with the words "Thanks for the memories" across the screen. Those words were, of course, referring to entertainer Bob Hope. The way his life and achievements were portrayed it seemed to infer, to me at the very least, that he was already dead. For that reason I was surprised when I heard he had died only yesterday. It just seemed so natural and easy to accept that he was already gone. I'm not sure if his appearance in the countdown in some way foreshadowed his demise to the rest of the world, but it did in some way for me.

I wouldn't call myself a deeply religious person, but I'm not completely devoid of religion either. It took me a long time to arrive here on this middle ground. I have come to understand everything in the universe to be in some way interconnected. I envision this as a net stretched out across a darkened sky. Events that occur on any part of the net are in no way isolated; they are felt all over as everything is also interdependent. Sometimes it is even possible to see a pattern emerge. When big things are about to happen the entire universe announces that they are coming and we, in some way, are forewarned. Sometimes one is too busy going along with the Tao, or the flow, to apply any sense to it all; to find the source of the pattern. Sometimes we don't even know that we're to be looking for one. When we are actually able to locate the source, it becomes a whole lot easier to deal with it in the end.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 08:00 PM

Bye Bob and Thanks for the Memories

Americans mourned the loss of their prized Ambassador of Goodwill yesterday, legendary entertainer Bob Hope. He lived an amazing life spanning some 100 years. During that period of time, he made a name for himself not only on his many USO tours that he was well known and loved for, but also on Broadway, radio, television, and in motion pictures. According to the Guinness World Record books, Hope lived to become the most honored entertainer in history. He is also celebrated as a true American patriot.

Good bye Bob and thank you.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 06:38 PM

July 27, 2003

Catching Up

So, I've missed an additional two days' worth of entries, guess I should be about even for those few occasions when I happened to write more than one within a twenty-four hours span. I like that way of looking at it. It's kind of like rollover minutes :). Quite frankly, I haven't had a lot to say, although there's been enough going on with me in the last couple of days.

I have been practicing my yoga while simultaneously learning just how out of shape I am. You could say I was a bit too eager, when against Andrew's better judgment, I tried my first inversion yesterday afternoon. I am deeply regretting that error this morning. An inversion in yoga is when your upper body ends up supporting your lower body, as is the case when you perform a handstand. Just so you know, I have never been able to do a handstand, ever. For this particular asana, or yogic body position, I was to face a wall with my palms and forearms down on the floor. My legs were almost in set position to begin running a race, except the toes on my left foot were pointed straight out. The goal is to get your legs up off the ground using your back muscles and triceps to accomplish this and keep them there by balancing and holding your weight on your deltoids and biceps. I never even made it all the way up and all that stuff hurts on me now. I have resolved to keep trying and I know that eventually I'll get stronger. One day I might even be able to complete an inversion, who knows?

I received a writer's proof back for my contribution to a book that will be published later on this summer, titled Theatre of the Mind. The editors of the compilation opted to feature my poem, "Mirror, Mirror" over "Age of the Romantic Hero" with no explanation as to why, though I'm fairly certain that it was because it's too long. Oh well, I'll get over it.

Last night Andrew and I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean. Since the movie was inaccurately listed on the marquee as being shown at 10:15 p.m. (when in reality it was scheduled for 10:05 p.m.) we arrived at the theater just in time for all of the stadium seats to be filled. We ended up sitting in the second row with our necks hinged back. It's amazing how big an 80 point font appears from that close. Andrew made the comment that the experience was like watching a full-frame movie in 16:9. In order to see all of the action on screen you have to turn your head back and forth to the right and the left. I stubbornly kept my focus on the center and so it is very likely that this movie is going to look a whole lot different to me sometime when we view it from home. My neck might just be sore from that movie-going experience and the yoga may not even have had anything to do with it. Who knows? I can't say it wasn't worth it. Johnny Depp was worth it, lol.

Hopefully I'll get around to writing a review for Pirates of the Caribbean later on this evening. In a short time from now a friend of ours will be paying us a visit. We'll be watching a Miyazaki film (since she is unfamiliar with his work) and sharing some Bar B Que from Red Hot and Blue. Eek, I had popcorn last night AND Reese's Pieces and now I'm going to have Bar B Que. This can't possibly bode well with my new healthy diet. I skipped breakfast as penance and I'm not 100% sure that will have rectified the situation. All I've had so far today is some Mental ClariTea with absolutely no sugar. It's not too bad. A little detour shouldn't hurt things too much as long as I don't go too far and can bring myself back on track.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:01 PM

July 24, 2003

Summer Reading

I started reading two different books on yoga today, neither of which can be located on my list to complete over the months I have off from school, but oh well. I really want to learn yoga and I think that it will be beneficial along with all of the other lifestyle changes I've made in recent weeks. I also intend to share whatever I learn with Andrew. I think he'll like it because he's one of those people that stretch with a degree of regularity.

The first book is called Om Yoga, by author and illustrator Cyndi Lee. I selected this particular book because it nicely laid out a routine for each day of the week. Added bonuses were the book's ability to lay flat and the handy tabs that divide each section. I took the book with me to the park earlier this afternoon to give it a shot. I found the illustrations were relatively easy to follow. I had a lot of fun learning the daily warm-up, which is a short sequence of movements called a vinyasa or a flow series. I followed that up with the work out provided for Thursday and found those postures to be slightly more advanced. It is going to take some time and steady practice for me to get the boat pose, the half-boat pose, the straddle stretch, and the side-bend straddle stretch all down pat. As it is right now, I'm not very flexible. I can't even touch my toes and I have never been able to do so, despite different P.E. teachers' very best attempts. I still feel refreshed long after my workout and I believe I can manage this sort of activity every day.

The second book I began reading today is titled The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss, by Elaine Gavalas. I have only read three chapters of it so far. These include the first two, "Understanding Yoga" and "Before You Begin" and the last one, "Yoga Food." I haven't learned anything incredibly useful so far. The diet they highly recommend is a vegetarian one. At the very least they insist that you cut down your intake of all red meats to only a few portions a month. The reason this is such a concern for them is the presence of saturated fats in red meats (they exist in other foods as well, like in dairy for example). These can be minimized by simply choosing lean cuts of meat and trimming off excess visible fat. That's what Andrew and I do and we partake of no dairy whatsoever.

Just so you know I haven't abandoned Gaimon's Neverwhere. I'm about half way through it. I'll probably start on Good Omens, which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett, after that. At least those books are on my list. I have a month left to finish up eighteen more if I still want to achieve my goal of twenty-five. Of course when I was planning my summer reading I wasn't anticipating on being kept so busy...

-- CrystalShiloh @ 08:36 PM

July 23, 2003

Rand's History With Us

Back in March of 2000, Andrew and I adopted a cat from the Halifax Humane Society, located in Daytona, where we were living together at the time. The cat Andrew had ended up selecting was a domestic short-hair, almost entirely black in coloration, save for a small little dab of white on her chest. Her age was estimated at approximately nine months. We decided to name her Rand, after Ayn, the egoist philosopher.


When we first got Rand to her new home she was withdrawn and shy. She would hide deep underneath the bed with her back sheltered in the corner. She was then especially protective of her belly, as she had been recently spayed. Slow motions, soft touches, and gentle words eventually won her over and became less wary of us.


This picture was taken on my birthday in April, at which point nearly a month had passed since we had brought Rand home. By this time, she was following us from room to room in our tiny one-bedroom apartment, jumping into our seats as soon as we vacated them, and she began to sleep out in the open (usually on the bed with us at night).


This picture was taken in August of 2000. We had just made the relocation to Arlington, Virginia. Rand traveled along with us in the car, inside of her carrier for a large part of the journey, and she cried the entire way. The wrapping paper and the boxes were likely the best part of the whole moving experience as far as she was concerned.

Rand Blue Blanket.jpg

Rand has now been a companion to us for over three years. She only still follows us around when we just come in from being out, she no longer steals our seats when we vacate them, and she continues to sleep with us each and every night (usually either on Andrew's butt, on the small of his back, or in my arms during the cold winter months). She likes to have her ears gently tugged, her belly rubbed, and the back of her legs scratched.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 01:33 PM

July 22, 2003


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Crystal and Darwin.jpg

Crystal and Darwin 2.jpg

-- CrystalShiloh @ 02:27 PM

July 21, 2003

United States Botanic Garden

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This is where our wandering led us yesterday, the United States Botanic Garden.

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This is the greenhouse as viewed from the side.

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We went with the hope of partaking in the rare sight of the corpse flower in bloom. As you can see, it wasn't ready yet.


However, we did get to see lots of pretty orchids.

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And even more orchids.

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Me posing with the orchids.

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Andrew posing with the orchids.

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Pretty purple flowers.

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More purple, different flowers.

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Flowers out in front of the building.

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Gratuitous shot of me resting and taking in the sunshine.

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I told you not to blink!

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Andrew Recovering from all the walking.

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The Capitol building as viewed from the front of the U.S. Botanic Gardens.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:05 PM

July 20, 2003

A Little Less to Look Forward to

Some butt-munch cancelled my show!!! John Doe will not be returning to Fox next season :(. All I have to look forward to now are new episodes of Trading Spaces, While You Were Out, and What Not to Wear. Oh, and now there is that new show on TLC, Family Trading Spaces. That's okay about John Doe getting cancelled, I shouldn't be watching much television anyway. I should be reading more books and studying for my classes starting in the fall.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:10 PM

July 19, 2003

Yahoo Creates an Instant Mess of Things

All of sudden one day my copy of Yahoo Instant Messenger out and out refused to connect me under my CrystalShiloh ID. I wasn't sure why it was happening because I had done nothing that could have caused it. Days and days went by and the situation didn't change. I waited until the days had turned into weeks and I wrote to the Yahoo Tech Support folks only after I tried everything that I could imagine might solve the problem on my own. I recieved a generic reply, stating that they were aware of the issue and they were working to resolve it. That was almost two weeks ago and I grew tired of waiting and so I created a new profile. I am now CrystalShiloh1, as far as Yahoo concerned. What really pisses me off is all the people in my contact list that I've now lost because of this sad situation. I can only hope that I can track them down or that they'll find me eventually. I also have the unpleasant possibility that this could happen again to worry about. Ugh.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 02:55 PM

My Neighbor Totoro

This film is by Hayao Miyazaki, as I mentioned yesterday. It opens with a family, consisting of a father and two small girls, moving into a new home in the country. We quickly learn that the mother of the children has been hospitalized, but what for is at best a vague notion. The house is infested upon their arrival with dust bunnies. An old woman, who answers to the name "Nanny", comes to help clean up the house and make it habitable for humans. She explains how to get rid of the intruders with laughter. They follow her sage advice. The creatures mean them no harm and so they retreat back into the forest. Other spirits also reside in the wood, most notably the huge and furry Totoro. Only animals and children are able to see him. Mae, who is five years old, has the first encounter with this creature while her sister Satsuki is away at school. It all begins with chasing down a trail of acorns...

This is such a charming story! It was well worth the $9.99 I paid for this DVD at Best Buy. Happily, it was not at all what I was expecting for that price.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:53 AM

Would You Rather Feel Cold or Hungry?

One thing to get used to on this much healthier diet is the sensation of hunger. While I was still ingesting copious amounts of refined sugars, prior to beginning this diet, all I ever felt when it was time for me to eat was the sensation of being freezing cold. After I would eat the feeling would not only remain, but it would for a time intensify. Andrew suggests that this may be indicative of my being hypoglycemic like my mother. This morning I awoke with a pain that started at the top of my stomach and pulled all the way to the very bottom of it. Something tells me that's what real hunger should feel like, unlike the sensation you get when you're strung-out on junk. If that's the case, I would personally rather feel hungry than cold.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:13 AM

July 18, 2003

What's Even More

I can't believe it, I have never been able to before and I just managed to finish one of those slide puzzle thingies... you know, the ones where there are either a series of numbers or portions of a two-dimensional image are all jumbled up and you have to somehow arrange them back into order. I usually get frustrated with the plastic versions of this game and at times became sorely tempted to just pry the pieces out with a butter knife. I did this one on my new Palm Zire.

It rained earlier, but unfortunately, I missed out on it. I had taken a nap at 4:30 p.m. and awoke at 6:00 p.m. I took a look out the window and saw that the ground was damp. That totally sucks. Before I laid down, I picked up a book I had started late last semester called The Zen of Oz by author Joey Green. He is not a very good writer and the book was a relatively pointless read. In fact, he put me out like a light. So, I do not recommend it to anyone. Now that I've had a brief break from Gaiman, I might be ready at last to pick up Neverwhere. One of my must-see shows is on right now. It's called What Not to Wear. Since it is a rerun I might be getting to that book sooner than I hoped I would.

Eek, I just tried to upload this entry and my "always on cable connection" isn't. It's 10:43 p.m., just for the record.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:08 PM

What's More

I just dismantled the dolphin puzzle. I enjoyed rolling it up until it just crumbled into, literally, a thousand pieces. I found getting it out of my sight somehow satisfying. It still wasn't worth putting it together in order to experience either of those two things. For one brief moment I considered pulling out my other Photomosiac puzzle (this one is of a world map) and I quickly dismissed it as crazy.

Today I am going patch-less. I'm all out of them. I may be jumping the gun in saying this, or maybe it's just too good to be true, but I'll go there anyway: I am no longer dependent on nicotine! yay me!! So far, I have not noticed any withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully I won't have to contend with them later either.

I am so happy that there is a chance of storms today. There hasn't been any rainfall in Arlington for about three days. I haven't felt much like reading either. That's not a coincidence. /me does a raindance and invites the folks in town to join her.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 01:54 PM

Princess Mononoke

dolphin puzzle.jpg

Ok, my puzzle is all finished, now what do I do with it? Do I apply some puzz-glue to it and immortilize my triumph forever? If so, where do I display it? How would I go about doing that? Bah. Sounds too complicated. Too many decisions involved. If I take it apart, do I think that I would ever trouble myself to put it back together again? Not likely! I'm thinking that I can't keep this charade up much longer, that puzzles really are my thing, because they just aren't. I felt no real reward when I put that last piece in. Truely, I found the entire process kinda pointless. Yeah, I'm an existentialist, what's your point?? Why waste time putting together puzzles, eventually you're just going to die and you won't be remembered for it. I believe I was channeling Camus' spirit there for a minute. I'm back to myself now, lol.

I need more coffee. Ok, while that's going in the microwave I'll tell you about what I watched last night. It was another film by Hayao Miyazaki (he also brought the world Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, as well as Castle in the Sky) , called Princess Mononoke. The best thing about this one, in particular, is how truly human the characters are. There is no bad guy. There is no good guy. Rather, each is inflicted with the human condition of being both, yet neither. A human settlement becomes embattled with the Gods of the forest over resources: The humans want to continue dredging up the deposits from the ground that they use to fashion their iron bullets with. The Gods want their home to remain intact. During the early stages of the battle a large boar is wounded with a bullet from the primitive weapons of the humans. The hate that this act brings to the creature turns him into a demon. The boar flees the battle, lands in a distant village, and encounters a young prince named Ashitaka. Some of the curse transfers into Ashitaka's right arm before he puts an end to the boar God's fury. He shows his wounds to the holy woman and is charged by the ominous stones to cut his hair and leave his home, never again to return. The boy takes with him the presumption that he is to seek out whatever put the iron into the side of the beast and that will bring him closer to finding a cure for his own malady. Along the way he meets many interesting characters, including Princess Mononoke and these cute little tree spirits, and he eventually learns that the humans and the Gods (of nature) need to live together in harmony.

This film was beautiful, and as usual, Miyazaki has taken expert care in portraying even the minutest of details. I could probably watch this DVD a hundred times over and still appreciate it just as much as the first. Actually, that's not a fair statement; I might find that I appreciate it more. Either way, I am pleased to have purchased it. Despite this being somewhat graphic (there's some body parts blown off here and there) I would still recommend it for children because the message is powerful and imperative.

I nearly failed to mention an interesting morsel of information. Author Neil Gaiman had a hand in the adaptation of Princess Mononoke. Anyway, I'll be exploring my thoughts on My Neighbor Totoro, yet another Miyazaki film I stumbled across last night while in Best Buy, sometime tomorrow afternoon.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:22 AM

July 17, 2003

A Question and An Answer

When I'm at home alone in my apartment and not reading a book, I like to listen to the television while I do other things. Today the Caroline Rhea Show was on and I happened to overhear her pulling out a sample question from a game called Lovers and Liars. It asked whether or not you could ever love someone less intelligent than yourself. I tossed this around in my head for a minute or so and then decided I would have to answer that with a resounding no. I better explain. hmmm... how am I going to do that? Well, first I turn off the television so I can fully concentrate.

Ok, moving on. The reasons I would not be capable of loving someone less intelligent than me is because I expect that I should be able to learn from the person I love. And I also expect that I should be able to teach him a few things as well. A relationship should be a symbiotic sort of thing: an even balance of give and take. I have found that a relationship works best when the two people share similar levels of intellect, but maintain and prefer different realms of experience and expertise that tend to overlap in some significant places. Looking at the relationship I have with Andrew, this is what we have going for us.

If ever I have a factual sort of question I just haven't yet encountered the answer to or the very question itself, prior to that occasion it just hadn't arisen, nine times out of ten I can put it to Andrew and get a satisfying answer out of him. It works vice versa. We almost never have to look anything up. We're very good at playing Jeopardy! as a team. What makes this a full circle is that our knowledge overlaps in enough areas. A pleasant byproduct of that is we often find ourselves immersed in compelling discussions where we both act as contributors.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 03:14 PM

July 16, 2003

Uneventful Day

There's not much I feel a need to express today. I've pretty much waited until the last moment to see if I'd be struck with an inspiration, but it just hasn't happened. It's a dry day. So, just a bit of an update for now. I finished American Gods last night, finally. I'll be starting on Neverwhere, which is also by Neil Gaiman, next. That's all I've got for now.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:48 PM

July 15, 2003

An Afternoon in Nature

First, let me just state that I am writing this entry away from my desk - I'm actually seated in the park putting these words down into my pocket journal with my lime-green lead point pencil. It's a perfectly beautiful afternoon. The bells of the carillon are chiming out the time on the half hour. The time is now 4:30 p.m. There's a breeze blowing my hair hailing from the south east. The whole entire world smells of the lushest, greenest grass from where I sit. There are a couple of birds having a lover's quarrel in a nearby tree. Occasionally, a squirrel walks by me on tip-toe in search of his next meal. Sometimes I can only hear them rustling around on the branch high above me. Now the crickets have begun to play their repetitious song.

I decided to lunch outdoors for a change in scenery. I brought along my book (I'm still working through American Gods, progression is slow when I have so much to keep me occupied) and a nice salad of my own making. I wanted to spend more than just the hour I was able to afford, but alas I have other things to do.

Second, let me just state that I wholly intended to get in another entry yesterday; it just didn't happen. I've decided to start hauling this portable journal around with me wherever I go so that even when I am away I can still write a little something for the website and just upload it when it is more convenient for me to do so.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:45 PM

July 14, 2003

It's Past Today and Now Tomorrow

Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later: I'd miss a day of writing. Nine minutes late. It'll be even later by the time I get this thing submitted. It's hard not to be discouraged. I will just have to make sure to get another entry in before midnight. Speaking of being discouraged, my fingernails keep chipping and breaking (this was when a huge spider intruded upon my desk space). First it was my left thumbnail, then my right thumbnail, and today my left middle fingernail closely followed by the index fingernail. There seems to be this threshold of fingernail length I've reached the apex of. Guess I'll be doing my nails yet again. Tomorrow. It's late. I'm going to go and read some more of American Gods.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:24 AM

July 12, 2003

Busy Day of Errands

I didn't actually think that I would have a spare moment to sit down and write an entry today. Andrew and I have been all over town and back again, or so it seems. We desperately needed to do some grocery shopping which meant taking separate trips to Fresh Fields, to Harris Teeter, and to Shoppers. Usually Harris Teeter suffices for our purposes, but we recently decided that we were going to completely change our diet and we wanted to compare selection. Our diet will now consist of more meat and produce. If I were to list what we're no longer allowed to have it would take me all night probably on into the morning. This all started when I bought a book called the Paleo Diet. Ok, why if I don't need to lose weight, am I going on a self-proclaimed "diet"? Well, because my body is addicted to a bunch of junk that is unnatural, stuff that it does not need in order to survive. Junk includes sugar, salt, starch, as well as unhealthy fats. Andrew and I cooked a healthy meal earlier this evening that was in line with what he's read in the book so far. It was a chicken stir-fry. We had some nice wine with it. I actually feel good and satisfied.

Other trips included two different department stores (that were located next door to one another) in search of a wok that was just right. We came home laden with so much more than that, lol. I happened to find a pair of Girl Wonder jammies (which I positively love to lounge around the apartment in) which I didn't already own, some stainless steel chopsticks, favored olive oil (which has good fats in it), pour spouts, and an apple corer. Oh, and we managed to find a wok :). I would hate to think that was an entirely wasted trip. Yes, I am being facetious.

Then we proceeded on to Target because we could not find an egg poacher in either of the two department stores we had looked in. I don't even want to bother with the details of what all we ended up buying, just know that we in fact found the poacher. We wound up back at Target after dinner in search of a vase (to put my orchids in). Again, I don't want to recap further, it would be much too involved. Ok, so I really like to shop... It's not like with cigarettes - I'm not addicted, I swear!!

Well, I have to go put the stuff away from my last binge... *cough*...I mean, expedition to Target. THEN I have to assist Andrew in cleaning up the mess I helped make from dinner. I also wanted to hop into the shower and watch him play a little Clock Tower afterward. I haven't done any sort of chores all day so I guess we'll be staying in tomorrow, for the most part, anyway. I think we actually will be back at Target again. Andrew is jealous of my new Palm Zire (that I haven't even unpacked yet) and I promised to get him one. Oh, yeah my Palm M100 finally died. Submersion is a bad idea, even if it's not really your fault. Rain is not always such a good thing, I suppose. I'm going to go get to it. I planned to sleep somewhere on the agenda...

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:51 PM

July 11, 2003

It's the Weekend

I wasn't able to access the Internet when I awoke this morning. I made the wish that it would rain in yesterday's entry, and it finally did begin storming sometime late in the evening. It went on into the early hours of the morning. No doubt lightning is to blame for the cable outage. I decided that since I couldn't yet write today's entry, I would instead turn the television on and listen to it while I finished up a mandala I was in the middle of. It hadn't occurred to me that the cable to the TV was likely to be out as well. I ended up putting Spirited Away into the DVD player. If you've never seen that, you really should. It's a great film. Anyway, between last night and this afternoon I finished filling in four more mandalas. I'm happy with my progress, but unfortunately my hand feels like it is going to fall off. I don't think I am going to want to work on any more for at least a few days.

Today officially starts the weekend, being that it's Friday and all. Last weekend Andrew and I went over to the Freer Gallery in D.C., but we left off on the 18th exhibition room because were hungry and went to eat lunch at the National Museum of Natural History's Atrium Cafe (the sandwiches there rock). By the time we had returned the museum was already shut down for the night. We decided that we were going to finish it up this weekend along with the Sackler (they are adjoined). Also on the agenda is the United States Botanic Garden and the exterior of the Supreme Court so I can take some photographs. We may even go over to Hain's Point. If we're going to be doing all that I need to get my chores out of the way.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 06:11 PM

July 10, 2003


I love the rain unconditionally. I certainly have no problems walking in it, in fact, the other day (I think it was Monday) when I went over to Rosslyn to get some more mop (modern organic products) shampoo and conditioner it poured. Leigh (my stylist and good friend) had been standing with me underneath some cover out in front of the salon where she works and we were having a nice conversation when all of a sudden the onslaught began. I found myself edging out from under the cover to allow the drops to hit and bounce off of my hand. At some point, I extended my entire arm out into the rain. The time was 4:15 p.m. when Leigh mentioned that she still had not eaten lunch. She asked me if I was staying or going and to that I replied that I was trying to make that determination. She went inside without a further sound and I proceeded to make my way home. My clothes were soaked and I was completely drenched by the time I arrived there. I removed my jeans, socks, and shirt out in the hallway, so as to not bring all of that water inside of the apartment with me. My things were eventually hung on the rack, what I place inside the bathtub on laundry days, to dry out. I pulled the blue flannel coat covered with suns, moons, and shooting stars (that really could have been made a robe if my mum had sewn a tie to go along with it) over my shivering body and settled down on the couch with my book. I didn't get up until I had completely finished with it.

I prefer to be inside reading in bed when it rains. Hearing the sound that it makes as it taps on the windows sends waves of chills through me and I consequently bury myself deeper beaneath the blanket and that gives me a warm and cozy feeling. What makes a moment like that even more perfect is the presence of burning candles interspersed throughout the background. I'm really hoping it rains again today. I've been saving picking my book up for when it does since storms were in the forcast.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 04:41 PM

July 09, 2003


I have found that it is more practical for me to declare my resolutions toward the end of the spring semester, at the onset of summer break, rather than at the start of a new calendar year. Since I'm a college student the start of the fall semester really marks the beginning of a new year for me. My student planner also follows this logic. The year runs from August 18, 2003 - August 29, 2004 according to The Original Student Calendar Time Management Guide. It is also easier to take on new responsibilities and make lifestyle changes when you have nothing else major competing for your time and attention. Now that I've established why I'm talking about resolutions at this point in the year, I'll tell you what ones I made.

First of all, I committed to stop smoking cigarettes. After seven long years of being a dedicated smoker (I averaged one pack a day) I came to the startling realization of just how disgusting a person it was making me. I was coughing up unnatural amounts of phlegm in class, and for that matter, everywhere else I went. My hair stylist, who happens to also be a smoker, advised me on how to make it so my hair doesn't smell like an ashtray. My boyfriend made routine comments about my breath smelling of cigarettes and at times even refused to kiss me on account of it. I was doing my spring cleaning one day when I found a generous coating of yellow cigarette residue on the underside of my white plastic desk chair (I spent a lot of time smoking while seated at the computer). I am proud to announce that I started step 2 of the patch on May 30th. I'm now down to Step 3 with a weeks worth of patches remaining. I won't lie to you and say that I haven't touched a cigarette this whole entire time, because I have. However, I have not purchased a pack because I am well aware that doing so would inevitably lead me to starting the habit back up full-time. I have bummed maybe a total of five cigarettes since I left my mother's apartment in Orlando (on June 7th).

Secondly, I committed to stop biting my fingernails. I seem to recall that I started on this resolution way before the spring semester was over. I had decided that it was time to give this habit up when Andrew and I had our engagement party (on March 2nd). Andrew had bought me a beautiful dress to wear for the occasion. My hair and makeup was done professionally. Since I was wearing open-toe shoes I had given myself a pedicure, complete with aqua blue polish to match the color of my dress. I wanted to do the same with my fingernails, but to my dismay there were not enough of them for me to work with. I am proud to announce that my nails are now more than long enough to give myself a manicure. The only problem now is I spend entirely too much time maintaining them... oh well.

Thirdly, I committed to read more. According to my ledger, last year I read what looks to be a total of twenty-eight books, many of which were assigned reading by my professors. This summer I unrealistically planned on reading twenty-five books. I have completed four that were on the list of titles I selected and one I hadn't planned on reading. That's a total of five books so far. I have a long way to go in order to beat last year's total. I think I can do it though.

Fourthly, I committed to keep a journal. I've always wanted to be the type of person that regularly writes in a journal. For one reason or another, my attempts have always ended in failure. I hope I'm not jinxing this one by admitting that here. /me knocks on particle board. I started writing actual entries yesterday, but I've been working with Andrew on the layout, functionality, and background code for my blog a lot longer than that. I am going to write something everyday, no excuses. I'll allow myself short entries when things become overwhelming at school, but that's it. There's no reason why I can't do this.

The fifth and final one is more of a goal that I've made than it is a resolution. I want to put more time and energy into doing things that will make me happy (and consequently put less time into just merely idling in front of the television). This includes completing my Coloring Mandalas book, by Susanne F. Fincher. I had purchased this coloring book last semester for use in my Religions of the Orient class. We had been asked to research a seemingly mundane aspect of Asian culture and to attempt to show how it can also be seen as being religious. I chose to conduct my research on the mandala. Mandala is simply the Sanskrit word for circle. As part of that research, I wanted to experience making a mandala. That's where the book came into play. I turned it in along with my paper and I earned an A on the entire project. The book includes forty-eight drawings, of which I have completed eighteen (the last one was dated 5.21.03). That leaves me with thirty more to go. The same professor that I had last semester for Religions of the Orient is teaching Chinese Philosophy this coming semester and I am enrolled in that class. I'd like to have these mandalas finished before the end of the semester so I can share the ones he hasn't seen with him. In addition to finishing my mandalas, I really want to spend more quality time with Andrew. I'd specifically like for us to work together on the puzzle that we started nearly a year ago that's been living under my bed pretty much ever since. It's one of those Photomosiac ones by Robert Silvers. All the individual images (split across multiple pieces) that contribute to the overall picture of a dolphin are ocean-themed. If you have never tried one of these puzzles before, they are extremely difficult. If you do happen to try one you will quickly see why my puzzle has been living for so long underneath my bed. I'd also enjoy playing some board games with Andrew, watching him play my video games for me, and continuing to tour the many significant sites in D.C. in his company.

Those are all my resolutions. I think overall, I am doing pretty well with them so far. Let's see if I can keep them up :).

-- CrystalShiloh @ 02:07 PM

July 08, 2003

Hello World

Hmmm... Where does one begin these things? How about I just pretend that I've been doing this for a long while and that you've read my biography and already have some beginning sense of who I am. That sounds like a plan to me.

I'm off from school at the moment... summer vacation. The action has been pretty much constant, thus far. The two weeks immediately following exams I had planned on just festering. I had no intentions whatsoever of going out or even changing out of my jammie pants for that matter. I just wanted to recover from school. I wound up hanging out with assorted friends, old and new and generally expended very little intellectual energy. My mind had a chance to vegetate at least. Then I took a pre-planned road trip with Andrew (my significant other) to Orlando, where my mother resides. We stayed with her for six days. We had been back the following seven days when I received an upsetting telephone call from mom. She informed me that my Aunt Joyce, her oldest sister, had taken her own life. A day later Andrew and I were in the car headed for Massachusetts. We stayed for about twenty-four hrs. Sometime after we had returned home, Andrew's sister Leslie in Louisiana called and informed us that she wanted to visit the first few days in July. Her daughter Allie tagged along. They were here the first through the fifth. A highlight of the time we spent together was watching the fireworks over D.C. from the roof of our apartment building. It has been three days now since they went home. I have done some cleaning and serious reading after they left. I finished all 870p. of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night and started up American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It's hasn't been what I was expecting, but it is still a pleasurable read.

Now that I have briefly recapped the summer you're up to date. I am spending today in my jammie pants. I have already straightened up a bit and I've done a bit more reading, but I have yet to lose myself in the book because I know that I will have to do the laundry at some point. Well, I think it's about time for me to get back to my life, as much as this has been a fun detour...

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:45 PM