Crime! Theft! Stolen Property!

After debating and discussing the acquisition of televisions for months, Serene and I finally found the willpower and action plan to go to Fry’s and goddamn it, buy TVs so we could play Playstation 3 and watch Netflix until our brains exploded. And by “Netflix” I meant “Deep Space 9.”

And it was good. MGS4ing it up while starting to consider my proto-living room home was a good first step in adjusting to the idea of actually decorating and filling an apartment rather than just a room. EXPANSION OF THINGS AND STUFF COMMENCING.

Exactly a week later, I got back from the Apple Cup to discover something odd: my apartment door was unlocked it was certainly cool and drafty inside. And what is this? Oh, there’s a hole where one of my windows used to be. Interesting.

I suppose someone else wanted my TV more than I did. And take it they did after busting out one of the windows (which is rather hard to get at from the outside, so they must have certainly wanted it) with a brick and climbing through the non-safety glass and wounding themselves quite a bit.

They certainly took a particular path. My TV and HDMI cable were gone, but the PS3, Blu-Rays, and PS3 games were all there. My laptop from 2006 was missing too, but my desktop, monitors, and DSLR WHICH WAS JUST SITTING ON THE FLOOR were all untouched.

My large hiking backpack, partially filled with really awesome things, was taken to presumably stuff the laptop into. Brown Argyle sweater from high school? Gone. Merlino Wool Purple sweater? Gone. MY FAVORITE TEA INFUSER? Gone. One of my gloves? Gone.

In a calm and collected manner, I called our friendly 911 and a nice SPD officer showed up about an hour later to look things over and take some fingerprints. It was a fun converstation when I mentioned that my hammer was also stolen.

Me: “Oh, and they took my hammer.”

Officer: “Your hammer?”

Me: “Yeah, I keep a hammer in my bedstand in case this happens when I’m home during the time.”

Officer: “And they took it?”

Me: “Well, it isn’t there now!”

Officer: “Hunh.”

So anyway, I have Renter’s Insurance that doesn’t include depreciation, so things should be pretty good. The residents around me were cool and were pretty shocked about what happened. They haven’t had another incident like that in recent memory and we figured that there was literally nobody around Thanksgiving weekend that probably let them scope out the places a bit. I didn’t have curtains in my living room yet (which actually was on my to-do list), but I certainly do now.

After half a decade in Seattle, I suppose this was bound to happen sooner or later. And Capitol Hill is still super cool despite this little incident.


Mind Games

At one point in our evolution, humanity, or our immediate progenitors, gained the ability to read minds.

This, of course, caused great chaos and violence: for I assume that humanity would take advantage of this ability by killing everyone we didn’t like. So we then created full brain encryption. Our thoughts were now pure random noise to everyone else.

In the passing years, we have forgotten about this telepathic ability because we could never find out a way to defeat this encryption.

Yet, there are those uncanny times when you seem to have the ability to read the mind of someone close to you. This is not mere accident, nor is it just because you can “read” their actions.

You actually have decrypted small parts of their thoughts by using partial encryption codes.


Life in Reflection: Part 2.5, High School for Real

I took the easy way out in my last post, and I decided that wasn’t really the point of this exercise if I could simply avoid writing what I didn’t want to discuss.

They always say that High School is the best years of your life. I would like to vigorously argue against that statement as it is clearly false and misleading. But that would reveal far too much personal information than I’m willing to expose. So I’ll just kind of skim over most parts.

Covering all of high school may be a futile exercise, but I’ll try my best to at least cover the highlights (and lowlights) in a semi-orderly fashion.

North Mason High School is located on the same campus as Hawkins Middle School, so the location was a familiar one. Two main things stand out to me my freshman year. The first is my first experience with foreign language. I took German my first year in HS, and don’t remember much at all.  Learning how to recycle was probably the most I got out of that class.

I also was not selected for advanced 9th grade English second semester. Despite the fact that I got an A in the first semester English. This still irritates me to this day, and was the first time I wasn’t selected for something advanced. I blame Ms. Lauritsen for this particular incident, and deep down have a theory that she secretly hated me. The irony, of course, is that even if selected I wouldn’t have accepted because it would have interfered with my math class.

Sophomore year is even less distinct than my freshman year. I started playing soccer at this point, and basically was injured all the time. Essentially talentless and doomed to be forever at JV, I still managed to have fun on occasion. At one point we I had to learn and play goalie because our main one was out with the flu. I was selected for goalie simply because I was the player who would make the least amount of impact on the field if I was moved to this position. After two days of “practice” I was ready! We lost 30-2. Ouch. I should also mention that I was coming off of a hamstring injury and wasn’t exactly mobile.

I also finished up my third year of German at this point. I think I got my heart broken at this point too.

Junior year was one of the most important years of my life.  A really close friend was almost killed in a horrific car accident, and I met two really important people who helped me get through the emotional distress I was experiencing. In the middle of the visits to Harborview, I went to Olympia for a week to page at the legislature. It was just what I needed to just escape from it all.

I also stopped playing soccer this year. It just wasn’t that fun anymore. Trying a long distance relationship failed to work in spring, but I did go to my first dance.

Senior year I got my first job, first girlfriend, and first and only prom. I was a public affairs intern at a local housing authority, and besides the fact I didn’t really know what I was doing thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I asked Katy out almost by accident (there is still an argument about what happened), but that began a 2.5 year relationship that lasted through the first few years of college. Prom, however, involved far too much dancing: something that I am not particularly skilled at.

It was probably the best year of high school as I was finally finding a group to fit in with.  I took some pretty cool classes, and I took some pretty useless classes *cough cough business communication*. All too fitting that we would soon be disrupted with the specter of graduation and college.

Throughout my high school “career,” I spent a lot of time at the library during the periods before school and during lunch.  I was only sent out into the hallway once, and was never tardy or assigned detention. An active participant in knowledge bowl, an active social life was not a trait of this period of my life. There’s really not too much more to say. I’ll probably add more to this post as I think of things and perhaps add some more organization as well.

After The Last Paper: Raw

After turning in my last final paper as an undergrad, I wrote this. Below is the full, unedited text:

I just turned in my final paper a few minutes ago for Scandinavian 445, and with that I’m done with my undergraduate degree. After shuffling up the stairs at Raitt hall I went outside to my favorite sitting place in the quad: an exposed root for one of the cherry trees I always found made a perfect bench. It’s shady and sightly hidden, yet I can still hear the silent students passing by and the songbirds amongst the rustling leaves. And of course the campus squirrels and crows make occasional appearances.

I can certainly tell it’s been four years, despite the fact that still fresh in my mind is waiting in the parking lot of E-1 while we were about to move me into McMahon room 464. I was about to live with someone I never met, go to a school where I knew less than five people, and live in a city where the population was measured in hundreds of thousands instead of simply hundreds. As we moved all of my possessions into that room, I knew I was about to embark on a journey which was completely different than any I had experienced before.

My initial intuition was correct.

I had to learn how to write papers, conduct research, critically read texts, and yes, even learn how to study.

While I was still in a relationship from high school that lasted for two additional years after starting college, and I had to learn how to balance school with a long-distance relationship.

King County Metro was at first a threat, but I quickly learned how to ride the bus, figure out the cryptic schedules, and read the odd maps that metro provided.

I was no longer the star in every class, but just another student trying to find their way in life. Still, I [almost] always did well in my courses.

After spending an interesting and often complicated four years with my best friend in high school, I’m blessed to have that friendship still be strong 4 years after graduation.

Selecting and getting into my major was an easy choice, and I don’t regret my decision. I’m well prepared to be a critical thinker, writer, and reader.

Husky football games were always a highlight: even when we were losing. One of my fondest memories is storming the field in Pullman after we won the Apple Cup in 2006, and the subsequent ride home with four happy husky fans and one dejected cougar. We almost died on that trip back, but that’s another story.

I always tried to take classes which were interesting to me: I graduated with 219 credits and got the opportunity to take additional Astronomy, Scandinavian, Economics, English, and other courses that were above and beyond my electives requirements.

Italian and Calculus were two courses that I didn’t need to take yet made myself, and I highly recommend both. Foreign languages have many benefits, and you’ll feel smarter after you’re done with just a year of work. Math too is not required, but I feel that everyone needs a good basis for calculus, no matter what field they go into.

Rome was one of the best months of my life, and after being prepared well with my Italian and comparative law courses, I spent all my time applying all of my classes up to that point.

After living in the dorms for two years, I moved into an apartment with my roommate from freshman year. This transition was not a great one, as we get along well and together had enough stuff to make our living comfortable.

After three summers as a public affairs intern, I went on to work in IT for a while. Both jobs taught me how to deal with people, to communicate clearly, and to prioritize my work. Both jobs were difficult for me in different ways, but I feel that I’ve learned a lot from both of them.

My vision isn’t as good as it used to be, and I have a few scars on my chest now. Despite this, I don’t feel at all disadvantaged. I drew from inner strength that I didn’t know I had and managed to make it through the quarter while dealing with constant medical tests and exams.

A Life In Reflection, Part One: Introduction and My Childhood.

This will represent the first in a series of posts where I reflect [in a somewhat public manner] upon various aspects of my journey these past four years. I debated calling this experience a “journey,” but that is quite the accurate term for what occurred: a journey is a experience where one starts out with a vague goal in mind and posses only a general understanding of how they will accomplish that. The rest is entirely up to the traveller to figure out. I will be breaking up my posts into a series where each focuses on a specific theme or event. Today, fittingly, I will focus on my life until high school. The goal of this section is to introduce my experiences and environment in which I grew up.

Life Until 18, or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Lived to Deal with North Mason”

I unknowingly have followed quite a bit in the footsteps of my parents, especially that of my mother. My mother was raised in the same physical house that I grew up, and we graduated from the same high school. After graduation, we both graduated from state universities in Western Washington, and we both got our degrees in liberal arts. Our education was paid for by our parents, and we came from a family where both parents were degree holders and expected that their children would follow in their footsteps. Following a rather different path: my father was raised by a single mother in Bremerton, but through hard work and determination gradated from the same university which I soon will be earning an undergraduate degree from.

Yet they both ended up in the same place: Seattle. Eventually marrying, I was the first child of two successful adults in their mid-30s with respectable careers. They bought their first house in West Seattle, in the Admiral District. We lived there for two years while they decided to move back closer to where they grew up: I think parents have an urge to raise their children where they themselves grew up. They had purchased property and were building a house in Seabeck when my mother’s father made a fateful offer: he was thinking about selling the house that he owned [and where my mother grew up] and build a smaller house more suited for a retired individual right next door. Needless to say, the offer of living in her childhood home was alluring and we moved to rural Mason County.

Around this time my only sibling was born: a sister. My mother quit her job to raise us when I was born, and it was a stable family life with homemade meals every day and someone to walk us home from the bus. Dad always was able to provide us with a comfortable life, and our parents always encouraged us to follow our dreams and passions. We both took piano lessons, and I took a liking to the works of Henry Mancini, which I could be frequently heard playing on our upright piano in the living room. The local library was always my friend: and my favourite topics were history and science. Robert Ballard was a personal hero to me, and his exploration stories about the Bismark, Britannic, Titanic, and others inspired countless hours of reading. World War II was particularly fascinating, as was all history. On a weekly basis we would go to the library and I made ample use of the reservation system to get my hands on as much knowledge as I could find.

We were a liberal family, and politics were always a topic of discussion around the dinner table. Trips were made often to Seattle and other areas around the Sound, and vacations to Arizona and California helped expand our horizons even as small children. We weren’t allowed to watch TV much: we could only watch one show a day. Game systems were objects of desire: we never owned any gameboys or nintendos. Our family computer was also limited: only half an hour a day on weekdays. With the electronic entertainment of our youths limited, we of course explored other hobbies: we hiked around the property, along the beach, and visited our grandparents often. During the summer my mother took us to museums, taught us how to use a sewing machine, instructed us on how to weave [I made a few placemats!], had us cook and bake, and helped us figure out budgets and keeping track of money. My mom used her home economics major well: we were taught all the basic skills to survive and be self-reliant.

Only 90 minutes from Seattle, Mason County is a world apart from the thriving metropolis on the eastern side of Puget Sound. I grew up in a town where we had a restaurant, post office, liquor store, and gas station.  You could drive through the “town” in under a minute, and probably would not even notice you went through it. Fifteen minutes away was where I went to school. At least this town had a proper grocery store and multiple gas stations. Where I grew up the distinctive feature was the water.

Scenic beauty attracts people to Mason County: the thick forests, tranquil streams, rolling hills and calm inland waters of Puget Sound sooth the soul. I grew up with the water: I played on the beach, dug for clams, and enjoyed the moderate marine climate. And the rain! We didn’t enjoy the rainshadow that Seattle often does, and ample rain was common throughout the year. Yet for all of this water it also defined the community in another way: socioeconomic class could clearly be delineated by how far one lived from the water. Mason County is basically filled with two groups of people: the fairly well-educated and successful people who lived on the waterfront, and those lived elsewhere. There were many exceptions, of course, but this rule generally works. You can imagine the community then from this sample of population groups, and the schools suffered from a poor tax base, low population, and a lack of resources to devote to anything over than basic education.

I actually went to public school for pre-school, which is fairly rare. It turns out that nobody could understand what I was saying: the letters “l” and “s” were unknown to me, and I had speech therapy until 5th grade with near-daily sessions my first few years. Despite my horribly incomprehensible handwriting [which still exists today], I was recognized as somewhat of a bright student in elementary school. I always went to learn math with the “older kids,” read constantly, and even at that young age could be found dinking around with  computers and this new wondrous internet. It seemed I was always in experimental classes: for second grade I was in a large classroom of 50 students and two teachers that was split between first and second graders. For third through sixth grades I was in a multi-age room with 25 students, three grades, and one teacher. I went to elementary school with a very close group of friends: some of us had been in the same class for 4-5 years in a row. It’s a shame the school didn’t repeat these experiments, as I found the mixed-age environment and same teacher from year-to-year enabled Mrs. Burns to get a better understanding of who we were and shepherded  us through school. Our strengths were refined and our weaknesses were carefully eliminated through the years.

In sixth grade I joined the band. Three days a week I took the early “big kid” bus to the middle school where I learned my second instrument: the clarinet. I wish I had some big long story about how I decided on this particular device to learn, but I didn’t want to learn a brass instrument and the clarinet seemed to match my personality in ways that I’m unable to fully explain.

Middle school was a shock. Both elementary schools in our district combined for middle school and suddenly there was a huge influx of students who I didn’t know. Except for fellow band members and the few I knew from elementary, I few friends. Going to math with the older students certainly didn’t help matters much, as I missed our “advisory” classes that I suspect were designed to help students build a social network as much as to disseminate information to us.

Final fun fact: My parents didn’t want to know if I was a boy or girl until I was born. Mom picked “Nickolas” for me since she was convinced I was a boy. Dad maintains he picked “Kelsey” if I were a girl, but mom said that she would no have approved it. I’m named after “Nickolas Charles” from The Thin Man series, and he is referred to as “Nick Charles.” I actually decided to be called “Nikky,” my parents claim, although family and friends called me “Nick,” “Nickolas,” “Nikkster,” and even “Nick Chuck of the North.”

Next up:  Read how the “the piano-playing, collared-shirt wearing, nerd who played soccer” survived high school!


I’ve come to the realization that I am way behind on life today. My case:

1) Working 30 hours a week. Which in itself is not out particulary bad, but….

2) Reading roughly 1000 pages of 8.5″x11″ pages regarding EU and Italian Law, and another book regarding immigration law.

3) Taking a week off of these two above tasks to go on a family vacation to San Francisco. The pictures of which still have not been edited.

4) Organizing everything for the month in Rome. This includes getting my new laptop squared away.

5) Rearranging and totally cleaning my room in the apartment. Which is a fairly huge undertaking.

6) Add various tasks, like assorted work for other organizations, a family party, seeing friends I only get to see a few times a year, and volunteer work

7) And any spare time is spent working on my perpetually behind reading queue. Which despite my best intentions, is always increased because I cannot resist buying books when I go to stores.

And this is the summer I thought I would have some time off!

Plant ER: The Doctor Is In

I woke up today, and something was not normal. Half of my pictures were on the floor instead of their usual place on the wall, and there was more. Something else… missing.

When I was about to leave for work, it hit me.

My plant.

Had disappeared.

The faithful plant I regularly watered, talked to, and was my constant companion when I was busy getting holes poked in my lung.

Was gone. Without a trace.

Perhaps it had fallen out the window from the third story?

I checked below, but didn’t see it.

Frantically running downstairs, I found it, in front of our apartment main door. The pot was broken, but it seemed to be intact. I quickly hauled it up to our apartment, set it on a large plate, gave it some water, and ran off to work.

Later that day I quickly purchased a much larger pot for it with some yummy soil.

It’s kind of funny how sad I was when I realized the plant might have been gone and/or damaged beyond repair. I think this kind of sums it up:

From: Nikky
To: Eddy
Subject: Winds
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 2009 10:18:20 -0600 (MDT)
User-Agent: Alpine 2.00 (DEB 1167 2008-08-23)

My plant fell out the window during last night’s wind.

I found it, broken and battered, in front of the main apartment door.

It is currently resting on one of your large red plates in the kitchen.

Please be extra nice to it. It would appreciate any carbon dioxide you can
send its way.

I will figure out where to get a new pot and soil tonight.

Champ Plant
Champ Plant. After the fall and now residing in its new home.