19th Publication, February 9 -March 25
I have been feeling for a while that it is time for another newsletter, and yet, when I look at the dates,
I'm not really that far off from my usual timing. I suppose it is just the fact that I feel much time has
passed, for some reason. Without further ado, I give you my letter.
The church was planning a social activity for the high school students, and so laser tagging was picked. The
basic premise behind this game is one runs around and shoots others with lasers, and tries to avoid being
shot himself. The designated ago group quickly widened to include those not actually in the high school
Sunday school class (such as myself) and those not even in high school (such as Stephen), and those who
have done with high school (such as the Lehigh students). As things turned out, the driving force behind the
event was bed-ridden on the scheduled date, so the date was changed so she could participate (and drive
others to and fro). The Lehigh students went ahead with their laser tagging plans, minus the church group.
I decided to go with the Lehigh students, and we played three good games, and I did reasonably well,
staying in the respectable middle of the pack (though, since team points count for something, being in the
middle actually means less if your team wins and more if your team loses, since if you subtract the winning
points, the winning players get bumped back a couple places).
The high school group event was preceded by refreshments (or maybe just freshments, since we had done
nothing to lose our original freshness, but I suppose that is tangential) at Dr. James Femister's domicile. As
usual he outdid himself, with a surprise birthday cake for the driving force behind the laser tagging (Mrs.
Hansell), and many other delectable confections. In the same manner as my previous games, I stayed pretty
much in the center of the ranks.
The four families (Hansells, Diems, Georges, and Greens) that went to the Outer Banks last September had
arranged for a beach party. The beach gracefully bowed out, and the television stood in, and so we
watched tapes of the previous two years over the cacophony of little children. It was quite pleasant, and
punch and refreshments were featured as well, and it gave on opportunity to map out the next trip.
One Sunday a couple of weeks ago Tom Becker (a fellow campus minister) and his family came over for
the afternoon. Mom and Dad had seen them here and there every once in a while, but I figured that it had
been at least four or five years since I had last seen them (their children and we used to play during the
several-week long spring camps for the college students). Consequently, the reunion was somewhat
awkward, but we played a game of Balderdash (somewhat akin to Dictionary, in which one person finds
a difficult word in the dictionary, writes the correct definition, while the rest write up fake definitions.
Everyone votes, and you get some points for voting for the correct one, and other points if your fraud is
voted for), and that was something of a ice-breaker.
On the MAFIA front, the ending program approaches! We have only a couple days, and the program that
night. This time, not only will we be forced to play a piec on the harmonia, but also sing the first and second
verses of "Abide with Me" and the first and third verses of "The Star Spangled Banner." It should be
interesting. Mom has been talking for awhile about resigning, and she finally informed the rest of the staff
(she had made the director aware some time ago) that she was not coming back. Much to her chagrin, no
one seemed overly distraught by this turn of events, and Mom was further brought to reality by realizing
that the director already had someone in line to replace her. MAFIA will not die immediately after the ending
program, however; in a desperate bid to keep it going, the director instituted a "Spring Fling" (I don't
suppose this has anything to do with food fights or catapults, unfortunately). This is a series of classes that
runs every day the week after Easter, and entails a separate bill. I was originally against it, but Mom
overrode my wish, and signed me up for her Macbeth class. Steve was assigned some other class. After
that, Lord willing, I'll be able to have my Thursday free (which I'll need, since I'm basically going to lose
the week of Macbeth, and my college class chews up a lot of time). One sad aspect of this is that our
budding quasi-friendship with the Chinese restaurant and Subway employees will be cut short. Since we
usually go to one or the other (occasionally both, if contention divides us), the employees saw every week
or two. But I figure it's a small price to pay.
Speaking of which, the digital typography class proceeds apace. My professor revealed that the average
grade is a B, and that getting a B+ or A- is great. A's are reserved for the absolutely stunning pieces of
work, and so my B to B+ average is pretty good (contrary to my initial opinion). He's amusing, for my
initial impression was that he would be a really nice guy, and an easy professor, and while he is a nice guy,
when it comes to grading and tests, the facade vanishes, and reveals the cold heart within. Actually, I'm
glad that he doesn't give half the class A's since it does degrade the grade. We are being given this week
(the one before Easter) off, which is very nice, since it will give me eight or more hours to work on my
regular schoolwork (which I will need, since I have two papers to write and Latin homework on which
I need to catch up).
My regular schoolwork has been squeezed into whichever time slot it can be, between MAFIA, DT (digital
typography), babysitting, field trips, and anything and everything else. Despite this, it has still plodded along,
like a pair of oxen with an onerous burden, slowly but surely reaching the destination. There is one snag,
however. In my science book, I came upon the several chapters on chemistry, and the chapter with various
reactions (and the mathematical problems therein) stumped me. I have since decided that chemistry shall
be banished to that black abyss in my heart where other things (such as that other math masquerading as
a science, physics) reside. Math, I can handle, but math disguised as science disgusts me. Latin, I've
discovered, is quite confusing. The verbs, nouns, and adjectives all can change their forms depending on
various and sundry reasons (some of which hold very little water). I suppose I should be grateful that the
adverbs and prepositions remain the same…
Two Fridays ago we had three events (one of which would be worthy of calling a day exceptional)
scheduled. Ethel Houck, an old friend of Mom's, whom we had visited in Florida several times, had died.
It was decided to have a memorial service that Friday, and Dad would conduct it. I was commissioned to
design the bulletin (and attend). Mom and Uncle Peter wrote eulogies, and my brother Peter spoke Uncle
Peter's, for Uncle Peter is in England. After the service, Nana, Poppa, Peter, Stephen, Ben, Uncle David,
and I all went Perkin's for lunch. Around supper time Daniel and three of his college friends arrived,
famished. They had come to drop off a guinea pig and a hamster for us to care for while they went to
Disney World over spring break. The guinea pig's name was Mercedes (ostensibly after the
fiancée of the
count in The Count of Monty Cristo, but I think it was more after the brand of car), and I didn't get the
hamster's name. I decided to christen them again. I named the guinea pig Betsy (the spice tradition does
not apply, since she isn't my guinea pig), since it seemed more appropriate to her somewhat plain and
down-to-earth appearance. I dubbed the hamster Huey, after Hamster Huey and the Gooie Kablooie,
Calvin and Hobbes' favorite book. So now we have four animals until Easter, and I already don't want to
The final (and in some ways, most important) event of that day was the homeschoolers' speech night. Since
our evaluator requires a speech each year that you are in high school, a bunch of church guinea pigs was
requested to bear five students' (of which I was one) speeches. I suddenly made aware of the
my impending doom when I was asked for a title two weeks before. I had none, and for that matter, I
didn't have the vaguest idea what I was going to do. It was suggested to me by Sharon Barshinger (though
I completely forgot this later, and thus did not give her credit in my speech) that I speak on an argument
that Paul and I had had. He had asked me whether I really believed that snowflakes were unique, as
scientists claim, and so the debate began. I expanded on that in the speech, and ambulated into wider
topics, such as science, and other subjects, and eventually concluded that everything is suspect, but you
should learn it anyway, since there is at least some truth in it. If anyone wishes, I can send it to them. As
I expected, I did reasonably well, and while I saw a couple of tomatoes at the ready, none was thrown.
The other speakers all did well as well.
I also had to design the hand-out for the speech night, so I was quite tired, but was still operating on
adrenaline for a while, and didn't get to bed until twelve or so. The next morning I got up at six forty-five
or so in preparation for going to New York with the Lehigh students. We went to a soup kitchen and
helped there for the morning as the social activity. To add insult to injury, after my long day the day before,
I spent the morning lugging heavy shopping bags full of groceries around. Afterwards, we divided and I
took the van heading home. It was a sign of my exhaustion that I actually slept on the way back.
Peter has been taking Engineering 1 at Lehigh, but he finds it so easy that he doesn't even go to class
anymore, except for taking tests. Since he can get and return the projects via the web, in person interaction
isn't needed, apparently. He has been accepted at Penn State and Lehigh, and has yet to hear from
Bucknell and Hopkins, and is currently (as far as I know) unsure to which college he will actually go.
At Christmas my cousin Katelyn admonished me to read Les Miserables, when she heard that I hadn't
done so already. I took her words to heart, and I have finally completed the 1,200 page novel. While I was
reading it, I didn't find it particularly exciting or great (not a book I would read until three A.M.), but after
three months of it always being there to return to, I found that I missed it more and thought more of it once
I was done. I almost felt at a loss, without it providing a figurative backbone for my reading (but I've
gradually replaced it with others which were piling up over the long period). I also completed The Odyssey,
which my schooling required. As both are translations from other languages, I found them interesting for
that, as well as interesting in themselves. The catch, however, is that I now must write a paper on each. So
much for reading purely for pleasure.
This summer is full of grand plans. Actually, I am full of grand plans for this summer (little does it know,
however!). I hope to go to French Creek one week, along with Paul, Sharon, and a bunch of others whom
I know to varying degrees, but whom Sharon knows better. In addition, I think I will be going to some sort
of Christian world views camp (or some such topic), which looks very interesting, and Gabe West (a fellow
speech night speaker and friend) will be going as well. I've also been contemplating possibly volunteering
at a nearby veterinary clinic (it's actually an animal clinic, but it's manned by veterinarians), since while I've
wanted to be a veterinarian since the fourth grade, I don't really know much about it in practice, and I think
it might be educational to actually see the inner workings, so to speak (what you don't see when you bring
a pet in). And, if I like working there, I might eventually request monetary remuneration for my labor. A
trip to the farm is also most likely, and as always, a gross of other things will inevitably pop up.
Well, I shall leave you with that. I bid you farewell, and hope you all are doing well and maybe will
reciprocate with some news of your own.
*Here Endeth the Newsletter*