Newsletter #25
Home Up Newsletter #25 Achives

Hare-Raising Adventures
25th Publication, January 2, 2003 ó March 19, 2003

"A friend is just like a stranger, except he knows your secrets"
Paul MacDonald

n a burst of inspiration (and an avoidance of more pressing things, such as studying for a chemistry test), Iíve decided to write the newsletter for January and February (and March ó my inspiration didnít last long). Iíve decided to include a quote and a bible verse in this addition ó if it works, Iíll continue. If not, I shanít. If you have a feeling one way or the other do tell. If anything just as much has happened in these months as the two preceding.

The most important thing during January, of course, was my birthday. As it is wont to do, it crept upon us as we were still reeling form the onslaught of Christmas. There were many inquires as to whether I was going to have a party or not, as it seems to be customary that on the sixteenth birthday in particular a somewhat larger celebration than usual is had. However, due to the rapidity of the appearance of my party and many events already scheduled for that and the succeeding weekends, no party has been forthcoming. I am thinking of inviting Gabe, Paul, and Thor over one Friday evening as a sequel to the sleep over we had in the fall at Gabeís house, and consider that party enough. We certainly will enjoy ourselves. However, considering the time that has progressed thus far, I might as well just give up the facade of it celebrating my birthday, and just have an unadorned sleep over with them.

Astonishing as it may be to some of you who would fancy me a deranged hermit with little better to do with his time than browse the dictionary and write long tedious epistles to erstwhile friends and estranged relatives (though that is not so far from the truth), one of the primary factors which has prevented my own party and postponed the completion of this letter have been other parties by friends. Kiersten Timpe held a party which celebrated nothing in mid January, at which many of the folks from the BEAT were. We had great fun playing card games, jesting, and in general enjoying ourselves, though I had to leave early to see a presentation of The Music Man at Lehigh. The musical was good, though probably not my favorite.

Karen and Andrew Hudzinski were, unbeknownst to them, having a surprise birthday party for themselves the week after Kierstenís party. Paul, Andrew MacDonald, and I were all invited, which caused great consternation. Up until the very day of departure we didnít know if we could go or not, since it was uncertain whether Andrew would be allowed to drive, whether Mr. MacDonald would drive if Andrew couldnít, or whether no one would drive. The day of the party it was determined that we would be going, but that if Andrew drove we would stay the night and if Mr. MacDonald drove we would return that night. I was given the understanding that Mr. MacDonald was going to drive, but five minutes before they were to pick me up, Andrew called and said he was driving, so I hastily gathered a few belonging to help me brave the night.

The drive down to Karenís party was memorable. Very memorable. Being all friends and willing conversationalists, the entire drive was spent in discourse on diverse subjects such as racism, personality, music, and others which currently escape me. Andrew has not had much experience with driving on highways, and merging in particular was a troublesome venture. He confided that he doesnít trust his rearview mirror. Thus, Paul was charged with tell Andrew whether he could or could not merge, and I fear he would have failed a test in doing so. Our continuous stream of conversation was periodically broken by driving directions and questions. One incident, remarkably indicative of the rest, went thus:

Andrew, "Paul, can I merge? Can I merge!"
Paul: "Um.... Let me see."
Andrew: "Iím merging!"
Paul: "No! No! Donít merge, donít merge! Wait. . !óOkay, now you can merge."

I looked behind us, and there was not a car in sight on the highway. I mentioned that to Paul in a questioning tone; he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

I was given the task of navigation. It was made somewhat more difficult because we had only one map, and that a poor one, and whenever I asked Andrew which street or highway we were on, he replied, "I dunno..." At one point we became so lost that we pulled into a gas station and, in addition to buying a better map, we called Elisabeth Mallin for directions.

Andrew said, "Hi, this is Andrew. Weíre lost."
Elisabeth asked, "Well, where are you?"
Andrew: "I donít know."
Elisabeth: Helpless silence.

The situation was made much worse by the fact that we could not find the city we were in on the map. However, after several minutes, Andrew did find it, and saw how to get back on track. We continued on our merry way, with slightly fewer interruptions in our stream of conversation. We even got so far as to arrive on the second last road with no mishaps, but we coasted right by our final turn since we were deep in conversation. I providentially caught sight of the road sign (a miraculous thing indeed), and told them we passed it. We turned around, started talking again, and passed it again. We turned around once more, and for the third time approached the road. Despite some initial uncertainty about whether the road coming up was, in fact, the one we wanted, we successfully turn onto it. Down the dark and windy road we went, slowly peering at each mailbox in turn, looking for the right address. We finally realized we passed it, and turned around. Unlike all the other mailboxes, which had houses right behind them, there was just a dark and eerie lane leading out into the murky darkness. We all shuddered involuntarily and slowly crept up the lane, avoiding the potholes. The lane was deceptive, however, since it forked off shortly ahead, and the house with its bright and cheery lights was just to the right. We quickly parked and were told to hurry inside, for despite being a half hour late (which was not so bad, considering all our mishaps), the principle characters had yet to arrive. Thus ended the long and memorable drive.

The party itself was quite fun. There were a fair number of people there who I didnít know, but many others whom I did. Paul and I spent some of the evening wandering around asking people random questions which we had made up previously for a separate project (including such things as a request to expound on Einsteinís theory of relativism). We asked one fellow if he played the trombone, and he said, quite astounded, that he did. He asked how we knew, and we modestly attributed it to our psychic powers. After the party officially ended, we then sat up and talked with various members of the Hudzinski household for a while. We were given a room in which we were to sleep, but we employed it more for conversation amongst ourselves (for some reason we didnít get sick of each other, despite all the time Paul, Andrew, and I spent together) into the wee hours of the morning, attempting to describe scenes which would be most eerie and frightening.

The next morning we all rose bright and early (or thereabouts), and despite such incidents as Paulís stealing my thick toast and replacing it with a thin piece instead, went to church without many mishaps. The church had as an instrumental accompaniment (in addition to a piano) a flute, french horn, trombone, and two violins. I found this particularly pleasing, for Iíve only been to churches or other such Christian gatherings at which the musical instruments were confined to a piano or organ, or guitars and drums. Iíve since made a resolution that more churches should do such ó though Iím still working on how to enact this resolution.

The ride back was uneventful. . . We parted after all parties said we should have such events more often, and we didnít make any wrong turns. We fixed a number of kinks in our organization, and were much more comfortable in our driving (for really, driving was a join venture). Due to a lack of sleep and plentitude of fatigue, we were a bit more sedate than on the drive up.

The final party happened just last weekend. Andrew MacDonald has been heavily involved for over a year in an independent film which premiered on the Ides of March. He composed parts of the soundtrack, and chose the rest of it, among other tasks. He therefore invited all and sundry to come and watch the film, and being a persuasive fellow, he convinced many, including myself. The group of folk from the border with Maryland sent a representative group to the movie (in fact, it was almost everyone from there) which consisted of Karen and Andrew Hudzinski, Elisabeth and Jeremiah Mallin, and Anna and Rachel Thornton. I also saw some other friends of mine, such as Christopher Stonesifer, whom I hadnít seen for a while. The movie itself was good enough, for being a first go at movie-making. The music, as many attested, was very good, and probably better than the rest of the movie.

The movie was followed by an after party which was less substantial than I had expected, but we all had fun regardless, and I introduced Chris to the rest of my acquaintances. Mrs. MacDonald had parked her van rather far away from the establishment at which the party was being held, so when we left, we found she had somewhat lost her sense of direction, so we meandered the streets of Easton for about half an hour, occasionally finding ourselves back where we started, rather akin to Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, and Rabbit always returning to the sand-pit when they were attempting to leave the depth of the forest. I, alas, did not think to suggest we try to find the building in the hopes of really happening on the van, though. Despite this, we did eventually stumble down the right road, and found the vehicle.

I was originally to be dropped off at my house, and the rest would return to the MacDonaldís and spend the night, but they all protested at that. I found myself reluctant to argue against them, so at their urging I asked Mom if I could stay the night with the MacDonalds (as if Mrs. MacDonald didnít have enough to deal with already), and she acquiesced.

The rest of the evening is, I discover, rather lacking in news, despite it being very fun. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morn talking about all manner of things (in case anyone notices a suspicious pattern, it is true that I do spend a lot of time talking to people, whenever the chance arises). Even Mrs. MacDonald stayed up with us for a long time participating in the discourse.

The next morning we all miraculously arose in time to go the MacDonaldís church service, which was at 9:00. Paul, Rachel, Karen and I all went to the junior high Sunday school class (though Karen and I were technically too old), and the topic of the class was procrastination. This was quite amusing, for I have a small picture frame holding a picture of a woman standing at the top of a cliff, looking out at the clouds below. The text beneath the image says, "PROCRASTINATION: Hard Work Often Pays Off After Time, but Laziness Always Pays Off Now." Gabe, being a mischievous fellow, gave it to me for my birthday. Ironically, I had given the exact same thing to Karen for Christmas. I, therefore, put up the best fight I could against the arguments posed by the Sunday school teacher, and I think I did reasonably well, considering he had prepared, and I hadnít.

The dynamics of the class were most interesting, for while there were thirty or so kids there, they rarely said anything (and some said nothing). The most vocal segment was a group of "disreputable folk" (as Paul dubbed them), who often spoke up with rather random comments ó sometimes they would support the teacher, sometime they would contend with him, and sometime they would say nothing of great consequence. Never the less, they were interesting and amusing. The second most vocal group was that of Paul, Karen, and myself (due to the seating arrangement, I was practically sitting right behind the teacher, but he was in a swivel chair, and unnervingly would often swing around and look intently at me while he was talking ó as if I had something to hide), which is was rather surprising considering we were newcomers, and by rights should be allowed to stay silent, but the other classmates werenít doing their job, so we had to step in. Of course, we rarely do shy away from a good argument. . .

After we returned home I suggested we go outside or for a walk or something, since it was nice out, and we had been inside a fair amount already. This was taken and digested by the group as a whole, and somehow manifested itself in Andrewís telling us all to get into the van, and we drove to a local ice cream shop. After purchasing two quarts, I again lobbied for walking back, for it was only two miles from their house. This time I won out, and all but Andrew, Elisabeth, and Andrew Hudzinski walked with me. However, since only Paul and I knew the way back (though it consisted of only making one turn), we thought to have some fun making a detour through the more obscure streets of Bethlehem, which we did. As it turns out, we passed very near to Hansí apartment, so I suggested we stop in to say "hail," for they had heard of him from me, and Rachel had even talked to him on IM, but none of them had ever met him. Unfortunately he wasnít in, so other than passing by the haunted house of my old French tutor and scaring some old people, the rest of the walk back was uneventful.

Shortly thereafter Mrs. Mallin arrived and took the ambassadors from the south back to their abodes. Paul and I watched a movie and worked on the outline for one of our stories (which is looking very promising, should we ever get around to writing it), and then I went home. Thus ended the party, which was extremely enjoyable (the party, not the ending so much). I think that I heard rumors of having another such venture again sometime in April, though.

Dad and Peter and a number of other Lehigh students spent all of last week in Mexico on a missions trip that RUF had held, and they arrived late this past Saturday. Despite some minor incidents such as one fellow getting stung by a scorpion and the ensuing pandemonium (which all ended fine, in the end), this trip apparently was a great success.

Iíve been working part-time at Ritterís Pharmacy since January, and finally am getting the hang of most of the basics, though some incidents such as having to work alone (usually there are at least two employees other than, of course, the pharmacist) with the pharmacist one evening because another employee had called in sick were not something I would like to repeat soon. Others, such as attempts to communicate with a deaf person (and subsequently giving him the wrong medicine, but which bizarrely was the right kind, since the fellow it was for was taking the exact same stuff), being cursed at on the phone by irate and incomprehensible Hispanic immigrants on welfare, and trying to divine how it is possible to get "rodriguez" from "riez," were more memorable than overly unpleasant. I donít plan on making a career of working at Ritterís, but it is certainly better than working at a fast food restaurant, and the extra finances are nice to have around.

My college algebra course at the community college is finally getting interesting. Until now it had been mainly stuff I had already learned or things which werenít very interesting, but lately weíve had more fascinating concepts, though that of course means I have more work to do. . . However, I think I should do well enough in it.

Each year I must write a research paper of at least 2,500 words for the diploma program, and this year I was planning on writing something on Winnie-the-Pooh, thinking it would be an amusing topic to choose. When I searched the local libraries, however, I found that there was virtually no information on the topic, and having not forgotten the immense difficulties I had with my topic last year (Mahogany furniture), which also had very few sources, I decided to leave that and choose a new topic. I am therefore writing on the rise and fall of the Carolingian empire ó of which, much to my dismay, Iíve discovered some of you know nothing ó, a topic which is rather fascinating, and does have enough sources. However, I am still in the throes of note-taking, the most tedious and time-consuming aspect of this project, as Iíve discovered.

Chemistry is something with which I had very much difficulty around Christmastime, and before that Dad had gotten sick, had other work, and the long and short of it was that I got several months behind, so Iíve been struggling valiantly to catch up. My struggle was made even more desperate by the fact that I found out that Iím taking the AP test in May, so I have even less time (for the original syllabus had me ending in June). My salvation came in the most unlikely form, however. Good old Hans, the chemical engineer, came to my rescue, and between him and Dad, Iíve been able to accelerate my studies in that subject, and should be able to complete them in time for the test. Now, how well I do is another question. . .

All in all, my school progresses rather like a wild stampede of a rhinoceros rampaging through the African brush; I keep up with it by clinging for dear life to the tail. I am hoping that once I reach May and finish Algebra, English, and Chemistry, the stampede will decelerate to a mere gallop (assuming rhinoceroses can gallop. If they canít, the equivalent will do).

Speaking of wild rhinoceroses, Hans of late has been plaguing me with his presence in recent months. Once when he drove me home from a Tuesday night meeting of RUF (he lives only a couple blocks from us), we got into a discussion of the definitions of grace, mercy, and faith. We had to truncate it when we went separate ways, but I told him he should look it up further and see what he found. Several weeks later he told me of a book he had purchased called The Discipline of Grace, and asked if I wished to do a book study on the topic. I agreed, and so we have been doing a somewhat weekly study on the topic. It is a learning experience for both of us, since neither of us had done anything like it before. Interestingly enough, the one subject which we continually come across in each chapter (and on which we spend great lengths of time debating) is the apparently duality of nature (Chris ducks behind some cover before continuing, hoping that the stricter presbyterian theologians arenít paying perfect attention). In one respect we are each accountable for our own thoughts, actions, and choices. In the other respect, however, God is omnipotent, predestines the course of history and time, and we do everything through Him. This paradox continually bends the mind, and certainly seems impossible to fathom. It is rather like saying in geometry that two lines are both parallel and not parallel. The topic is most interesting, however, and we have had many profitable evenings with the book.

Hans also has convinced me to watch some movies with him. Some of the earlier ones, while fair enough, werenít stellar. Last week, though, we watched Tombstone and A Beautiful Mind, neither of which I had seen before. Tombstone was about Wyatt Earp, and I found myself liking a great deal Doc Holiday ó I found some rather interesting correlations between his outlook on life and mine. A Beautiful Mind I found moving (which in itself shows how impressive the movie must have been, for I am rarely moved by movies, despite their name). Despite some claims that the movie strayed quite far from real life (which I was blissfully unaware of at the time of viewing), I still think that the movie itself was wonderfully made, and the interactions between John Nash and his hallucinations was excellent.

The librarians advanced their nefarious scheme last fall by instituting me as a member of their Teen Advisory Board (commonly referred to as TAB), which I discovered was really rather fun. There is something quite intoxicating in knowing that you hold peopleís lives in your hands, their fate is your whim; they are sinners in the hands of an angry board member! Now, granted, there is little lasting effect I can make on the youth section of the Bethlehem library, but I see this as just one step on my march to the presidency. I outlined my plan to Gabe once. I would work my way to president of the TAB, then from there get on the real board at the Library, then shoot for the presidency, then the mayorship, then state representative, and then president. Iím counting on having a solid voting bloc just from my loyal subscribers, and Iím sure with my extended familyís connections, Iíll be able to pull off a landslide dark horse victory. Other plans have impeded my progress in that area, however, since my College Algebra class coincides in a temporal fashion with the TAB meetings. I hope to return once the class ends.

For my birthday I was given Macromedia Studio MX which is comprised of five programs: a web site design program (Dreamweaver), an image editing program (Fireworks), a drawing program (Freehand), an animation-making program (Flash), and a database (Cold Fusion). The latter three I havenít used much, but the former two I have found very useful. I use Fireworks to edit all my digital images, and Dreamweaver I have been using to create my new web site. Unfortunately, Dreamweaver is a professional level program, and Iíve been essentially teaching myself how to use it, which is long and tedious, but made even more so because I donít know anyone who does have a lot of experience with it, and to whom I can come with my woes. I had hoped to have my site up and running by the beginning of March, but one hitch after another has prevented me from doing so. At the moment it is uncertain when I shall be finished with it (let us hope I do finish it. . .).

Most of my life Iíve told people who dared to ask that I prefer classical music pretty much exclusively, but in recent times Iíve found a new niche which has survived my critical appraisal: Broadway musicals. It all started last year with an old cassette tape that Mom played once when we were going to the Farmerís Market for some soft pretzels. On this cassette was a recording of the highlights from the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera. After some initial doubt, I decided that I liked it. I later listened often to Peterís two-CD version which had more music and a script of the play in the accompanying booklet. From there it was not a far stretch to go to My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun, The Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof. My most recent discovery is Les Miserables, which is truly a stunning ensemble of lyrics and music. "Do You Hear the People Sing?" I have nominated as my theme song, in particular when Iím feeling aggrieved and injustice is rife in the land.

Next week Mr. Richman, my evaluator will come and determine if Iíve shed enough tears and bled enough blood under the oppressive lash of the schoolmaster. Hopefully heíll consider it enough, for I fear I certainly cannot do more. Mom just wandered in and told me weíve started the war with Iraq. It shall be interesting to see how it pans out. Bush seemed grave enough when he made his 48 hour warning, but Iím naturally skeptical of how really grave and how vital it is, one way or the other ó but then I try to avoid current events (politics in particular) as much as possible, generally because people get so worked up, and in a month, a year, it is completely forgotten.

The weeks before the first week of May slowly dwindle, and with them my anxiety increases. I still have many more chemistry chapters to do, much Algebra to process, and several practice tests in English to take before I am decently prepared for the upcoming tests in each subject, so I may not be able to send another newsletter until after them. There are several other events planned for April and May and as well, for as always, my life does not look dull in the near future. Hopefully reading my near past has not been so dull either. Farewell!

Ė~Snowshoe Hare~Ė
Ė~Christopher Green~Ė

"Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth."
ó Psalm 96:11-13

*Here Endeth the Newsletter*