Friday, December 28, 2007


Life is filled with small blessings in disguise.

You miss the train, yes that sucks, but at the same time it also means more time to listen to the amazing kid playing guitar at the station. I mean how many times does the train come and you board even though you wish you could have stayed a little longer?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Real Life

Yep that's right. I have a full-time job. I wear business clothes almost every day, sweatpants only on Saturdays. I brush my hair and I pay bills. I don't have to eat sandwich cookies and cold leftover pasta for every meal (although I still sometimes do).

What I'm trying to say is that I'm moving up in the world. And the culmination of the new Katie is that I am taking Greyhound instead of the Chinatown Bus for my trip this weekend.

Although the Fung Wah is actually starting to look pretty legit, I mean "Permitted by the Federal Highway Association" - that is serious stuff. Looks as though I'm not the only one moving up in the world!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rejoice Rejoice

Everyone's home for Christmas. It has been chaos, with all the treat making, people randomly freaking out, pulling down all the old ornaments from the attic and placing them haphazardly on the tree, wrapping presents, listening to littlest sister sing carols at 3 octaves above normal human range, etc, etc.

Sometimes it makes my mom frazzled, and sometimes I eat fudge for both breakfast and lunch (okay who are we kidding... dinner too). Sometimes Beth has to go into her room to escape it all and to brood, and E and I have to go in and dance interpretively to her rock opera (rock + opera = ropera). Sometimes my brother has to sleep on the sofa and I on a camping mat on the floor because his bed is covered in "storage" and mine has no mattress. But if you asked, I'd have to say it really is fantastic to have everyone together.

My parents and youngest sister have been singing in an ecumenical Christmas choir with a nearby Catholic church, so after my cousin's Christmas Eve party, we popped in for a dose of mass.

The choir put forth a solid performance. The priest gave a sermon about (what else) the meaning of Christmas. If such a great gift has been given us, what can we possibly do in return? We can give our hearts in gratitude; we can give our love in service to others. The funny thing (which my little bro pointed out): we heard almost the exact same message at our own church service Sunday. As I listened to the choir's music and the words of the kind, honest priest, a beautiful idea washed over me. Now is a time when we can celebrate together with Christians anywhere and that the message will be the same... a message of peace, of love, and of joy!

And so, I will leave you with this little ghost from Christmas past. I mean seriously, what evokes the Christmas spirit more than a slightly hungover three-year-old, struggling to make it through church?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Is He a Dot or Is He a Speck?

Even after all of the good things that happen, the amazing people you know, still sometimes you just feel like an ignorant little slob.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Missing Them

My company is relocating into a new office building, more towards the heart of downtown. Apparently everyone in our building is moving to other locations as well. I am excited for the change of pace, excited to be closer to everything, to have more frequent T service for my commute.

However, there will be a lot of folks I won’t see any more at the new office, people who work in the same building or whom I pass on the way to work. And I realized, strangely, that I will miss them. I guess you just grow to love those you see. For example:

The head janitor
My train conductors
And speaking of trains, that old timer who rides the same one as me in the morning
Let's not forget the goat-man
Chatty newspaper salesman
Curly-haired guy who introduced me to International Falafel
Man with kind eyes who works at International Falafel (he recognizes every customer)
The young IT professional who dresses in all black and updates me about her 2-year old son
Valet Parking attendant
Morning-shift Salvation Army bell ringer who puts such flair into it
Sniff sniff. And I’ve only been working at the office for 6 months! And I only see these people maybe once every week or two. God forbid one of my coworkers retires or moves to a different job...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stream of Consciousness

I long to be known, to be loved. Of course there are people who know and love me. They just aren't HERE. NOW.

Life remarkably does go on. And I have some great news: my first big project at the new job was to assist in writing a grant proposal for one of the commuter rail lines in the area. It was SO MUCH work, and such an effort to produce and assemble a whole range of components for the application. Anyway, though, we just found out last week that the application has been approved, and we’re getting the funding... so rewarding!

I’ve been fanatically searching for truth lately. From whence this energy and determination comes, I do not know. Is there a God? I seek this greater being, with no reason other than hope and yearning. I guess I never realized the effort required…

I can tell you this, though: determination and consistency are NOT my strong suits. So I simply continue plodding forward, because I don’t know how long this energy will last. As a result of my search, I regret to inform you that I have shunned several boys, but I hope they will understand that I cannot even THINK about dating them right now… maybe in a month or so after I’ve chilled out a bit on my deliberations.

My great friend from high school is going to be a missionary for church, and I think she has chosen a good path. I hung out with another high school friend friend, Foff, the other day, and we reminded each other who we REALLY are. Sometimes it feels like a hard thing to find people who actually know you. My sisters are coming home soon, and I am looking forward to seeing my college roommates (ahhh that sounds weird, like I’m OLD or something) at Christmastime.

We’re all going to NJ to go sledding and eat toasted food. Yippee!

In other news... my coworkers love me.
My room is messy (as it should be).
I don’t have any boots
It snowed.
My roommates don’t hate me.
I secretly dream of wearing this light brown sweater EVERY DAY because it is so warm and spandex pants because they are so comfortable.
I eat cookies.
The heat works.
The wireless router does not.
I said I would work on it.
I did not.
The clothes hamper is full to the top.
I’ve recently been informed that wizards DO in fact exist… in my heart.
I might have found a couple people to be FRIENDS with here.
POP TARTS!!!!!!!!

Yeeeah... I just had to let it all out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oh, AutoCAD...

...quit being so melodramatic!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Isn't That Strange?

Isn't that strange how we can be going through all these inner struggles and transformations, yet keep waking up in the morning, going to work, choir rehearsal, Spanish class...?

You kind of expect everything to pause and wait for you to figure it all out, but that is just not the way the world works. Probably because we'll never figure EVERYTHING out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for a family who loves me no matter what,
and for friends who help me along the way.

I am thankful for the beauty of the earth
of the sky
and of the woodlands.

For the subway.
For elevators.
For modern medicine, for caring doctors.

For smooth rocks from the beach, and I’m thankful for snow flurries and little seeds that hide away until the first hint of spring’s warmth.
For children who laugh at the bus stop.

For music and shared words.

I’m grateful for the farmers always growing food for us to eat.
I am grateful for the strength of my mind, body, and emotions.
I am thankful for hope and the future, for the sad times as well as the sweet ones

I am thankful to learn.
I am thankful to grow.
I am thankful each moment as I discover this miracle of life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Christmas Cactus

My Christmas Cactus is budding. Do you know what this means? It means "Hallelujah, we've made it through another year!" And tonight I'm going home to Thanksgiving...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Surprise, surprise!"

...said the sock and the grey pair of underwear as they leaped out of the clean sheet Katie was trying to put on her bed. "Did we scare you???"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Blown Away

A really talented live musician can just blow you away sometimes, huh?

You know no matter how much you devote you may never attain that level of precision and grace. Yet something magical resonates within your spirit and you think, what a miracle, what a gift, to be a human, to be a part of a species that can conceive of and combine notes and intensities and emotion into something so rich and delicate as... music.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


My coworker and her husband adopted a dog from the shelter a bit less than a year ago. The little dog had a very troubled past and came to them with a host of issues from anxiety to aggression. They have shown him only love, patience, and understanding these few months, and, along with a constant environment, he has started to learn to trust humans again. At the end of last week, however, she came into work in tears. The dog had bitten her on the arm and the leg. She was shaken up, but fine physically, although his teeth did break through the skin. It was more of an internal blow... after she had invested so much time and so much of her physical and emotional efforts, this little creature whom she loved so dearly had reverted back to his old ways and literally bit the hand that fed him.

Recently I have seen two movies: Darjeeling Limited and Crash. Two films I would recommend to most people. The first is about three white American brothers who take a train through India at the request of the eldest in order to grow closer to each other and receive spiritual insight. The second winds the racially charged stories of several citizens of Los Angeles into an intricate knot of misunderstandings and even violence. The first is artistic and dry and the second is tense and raw...

There are a lot of stories I have heard where the main character undergoes a transformation: becoming a kinder, more understanding, or more loving person. It may occur slowly or almost instantaneously, but the change always seems to occur steadily, to be permanent transformation.

My reaction at the end of both of the movies was "What??? ...ohhhhhh." While the characters in each did change and grow, their changes were not a linear process. It threw me at first, but then it resonated. Maybe it reflects this current point in my life that I am picking up on such a theme and connecting the two films, or maybe it reflects a more realistic, less idealist view towards change in the world in general. Even as we have small changes of heart as individuals or groups, we still may return to our old ways, yet with a slightly deeper understanding and a hint of promise that the next time around we might do a little bit better. Maybe that is what makes change beautiful. It is not perfect, yet we continue.

On Monday, my coworker came back into work smiling. The whole weekend, the dog acted as though nothing had ever happened. In fact, she said "he has been so much more affectionate than usual."

That is hope.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Lappy

I have a new computer and soon I will have the internet and then life will return to normal. It was strange getting used to writing letters by hand (although half of them are still waiting to be sent) and CALLING people on the phone...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mind Energy

Reaching a new level of understanding is pretty much the best sensation in the world. It is like in Aladdin when he fits the two pieces of the scarab beetle together and they begin to glow and come alive and fly off to the Cave of Wonders. You may have spoken these words or had similar thoughts in the past, but they have always been cold pieces of metal. Put them together in just the right way, and they come to life. Your mind lights up and your skin tingles and another tiny bit of the universe makes sense.

I would have to say it is the best high ever. And when you reach this new level together with another person, it is like your spirits are those two little beetle pieces and when your thoughts meet up together and there is an intellectual buzzing all around you.

What is this tangible energy?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Yes, Beware

Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

For some reason I really love this statement!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Time Travel

I applied some lotion to my legs last night that I hadn't used in a loooong time. Maybe even since the end of the time I was dating Chewbacca. Woah, did it bring me back in time. "It smells like feeling unloved."

Scents can be powerful that way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This is the Truth

(or "The Lesson I Keep Learning Over and Over Again")

Well, if you are looking for the Truth (and I do mean the Truth, not your regular old truth) you will not find it on one side of the argument or the other. You will not even find it tidily in the middle. The Truth is the location where the two sides overlap. Truth is where the two opposites exist simultaneously. It is rarely an either-or, almost always a both at once.

I am a tiny speck, meaningless in this universe, but I am also a miracle, a goddess of ultimate beauty and grace.

Not only must we love as though everything matters, we must realize that we actually have very little effect on the path of the world. We balance detachment and apathy with utmost concern.

Is abortion heinous; is it killing, or would making it illegal be grossly oppressing women? Yes, both.

How can it be? Truth is beyond three-dimensional, I guess.

Friday, August 24, 2007

They Just Sort of Sneak Up On You

Sometimes you're getting ready for work in the morning and you think "Helloooooooooo sexy! Wooo wooooooo!" and kind of wink at your reflection.

Other times, you look in the mirror, and it's more like "Damn, woman, do something about those eyebrows!"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

StrengthsFinder 2.0 - Results

My strengths (with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 mini-descriptions):
    Ideation: People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
    Strategic: People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
    Woo: People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.
    Futuristic: People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
    Positivity: People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
I'd actually say it is pretty accurate for the most part, although the first two seem almost identical to me. And I think that I exhibit the Woo theme only inconsistently. Sometimes I have it, sometimes I just don't. Other than that, it seems like a rather good description of where I excel.

Hopefully at work, though, they won't say, "What terrible strengths for an engineer to have. You're fired!!!"

Yeah... they probably won't say that though, because I'm pretty sure I've already wooed everyone at the office. Heh. Heh. Heh.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Beauty That Is a Human Being

So familiar we hardly think twice about the miracle.

Blows my mind how anyone can do that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another Round, People

Time for another round of "things that make my day in small and magnificent ways"
  • Wearing my little sister's tinted lip gloss and looking Super Hott
  • The Sound of Silence
  • Having the conductor check my ticket on the Commuter Rail
  • Ponytailed woman who hands out BostonNOW papers
  • Diamonds strewn across the grass in the morning
  • A moth
  • Ancient people
  • Itty bitty baby people
  • The dry whirring of cicadas on a summer's day
  • Thinking of him and realizing it doesn't hurt anymore
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Popsicles
  • The Muppet Movie
  • Mustard yellow shorts with a rope belt
  • Peruvian man on the subway who asks if I am "accepting applications for marriage"
  • Being trusted to hold down the fort on this project while the main guy is out of town for a few days next week
  • Old friends
  • "Grandma bra"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Smile Points

Throughout the day, I collect smiles, just as Mario collects gold coins and Sonic collects rings. And, like those two guys, gathering enough smiles from other people actually increases my health, if you can believe it.

Isn't life just like an old school video game?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

StrengthsFinder 2.0

For the big annual planning meeting (where we work on personal and company development), we're each going to receive a copy of this book and take the corresponding personality quiz.

It seems like a pretty cool idea in general: instead of focusing on the things you are bad at that would be really difficult to change, it focuses on your strengths and how to work with them to achieve your life's goals. Well that is my interpretation of it (obviously I haven't read the book yet).

The thing is, I'm really nervous. I really like my strengths, and I think I generally use them gracefully, but I don't think they are good (or typical) engineering strengths. Many of my coworkers probably already suspect this. But I don't want them to know for sure. I don't want them to know that I'm not an Acheiver or Deliberative, that I lack Discipline and Responsibility... I am afraid what they will think when they discover that I am a spaz and a dreamer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Thoroughly Creepy Dream

I was riding the train into work when we slowed down unexpectedly. Out the window to the left was what looked to be the abandoned remains of an old train. I had never noticed any trains abandoned on this route before, so I was surprised to see it. I peered out the window and realized that it hadn't been there long. Quite recently, the top had been blown off entirely and there were people sitting in every seat. Their faces were frozen and waxy, like dolls' faces with their eyes wide open. There wasn't any blood, just black singed hair, skin, and clothing. A couple hundred yards further, on the right-hand side lay another burnt and smoking train, and then somebody in our car received word that the subways had also been bombed.

I looked for my sister Esmerelda, who'd boarded the train with me, but she had moved further up in the car to find an available seet and was now lost in the shuffle. As we approached a familiar at-grade crossing, the air became thick with grey soot; papers and debris floated everywhere, and people were just roaming the streets. The conductor blared the horn, because we wouldn't have been able to stop anyways, and fortunately all of the people managed to get out of the way.

Finally pulling into the station, the city was unrecognizeable. There were hardly any people, and most of them were wandering aimlessly, standing around on street corners smoking or leering at the few people who were hurrying to their destinations. Every time I saw someone who looked like my sister and called out her name, the person would turn out to be a hooker on a bicycle or something. I finally decided the best bet would be to go to my office and call my house to see if anyone had received word from her.

I reached the office and there was only one other person from my company. We went through the phone list, recalling that this person was on vacation, this person had been in a meeting in DC... we had to call our homes and then the other employees to make sure they didn't try to come in to work today.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Home Terminology

Why does everyone refer to a "house" as a "home"?

As in "they just put in a new row of luxury homes," or "we just bought our first home." I hate thinking of it as a commodity that could be constructed or purchased just like that. Really, the physical building is more of the shell of the home, just as the body is the shell of the soul. And it can be in any sort of place, not just a single-family dwelling: rental apartment, old shack, college dormitory... I have found home in all of these places.

Home is something sacred, the place where a person feels safe, accepted, and unconditionally loved. You cannot purchase it with money and you cannot build it simply with a construction crew and a pile of 2x4s. It is something that is patiently woven by delicate spiders with warm and pulsing hearts. These spiders do not even need to be related.

Equating house with home degrades that beautiful word into something that can simply be fabricated with enough cash. Developers use the pleasant imagery conjured by the term to achieve their aims, to sell their product to accepting families who believe the purchase will finally provide a “home.” But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the home is something that we carry in our hearts whenever we dwell with those we love. Referring to the physical structure as a home seriously limits our thinking.

Heheh... and anyway, how will we ever fight suburban sprawl if everyone thinks this is the only option?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Grand Day Out

"Hector." Mrs. Gobbles glanced over at her husband. "Please be serious."
“Sorry sorry, Augustina.” Mr. Gobbles eyes scanned the perpetually-shifting swarm of offspring. “Have we got everybody? Wobbles… Hobbles… Squabbles…”
“Mom, Dad, can we go now? Can we go yet?”
“No it’s not safe just yet.” Augustina herded a recalcitrant child back towards the group while her dear husband continued to count the bouncing little heads.
“Hang on… Flobbles… Dobbles… All right, we have everyone.”

Mr. and Mrs. Gobbles peered carefully to the left and then to the right and finally to the left again. The coast was clear.
“Okay. Everyone, GO!”

And with the skittering of fifteen sets of talons on tarmac, the turkey family crossed the road to the shady brush on the other side.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Life Lessons Learned

  1. Do not buy CDs from street performers. They'll almost always disappoint: rarely sounding as good on the recording as they do in real life. Oh he had such a LOVELY voice... coupled with that small guitar... what purpose did it serve to throw in the synthesizers???
  2. Vehicles need to be registered in the state of Massachusetts, except for bicycles.
  3. Do not park a scooter on the sidewalk at Walden Pond. This is no longer the mid-nineteenth century. We have RULES, people. We have a tourist attraction to run.
  4. Even on the eve of the seventh Harry Potter book, when all the world is dressed in geeky black robes, wearing pointed hats, and reveling in the streets of Harvard Square, you will still find an enthusiastically devoted contingency of Red Sox fans huddled around the TV in the store window, oblivious to the magical mayhem which surrounds them.
  5. The man who stands behind the giant handmade puppet performing Hippie Karaoke with young children will immediately switch to singing about his favorite herb and moving the large plastic "cigarette" to the puppet's mouth once said children leave.
  6. My gosh I love MA.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

4th of July Conversation

For the celebration of our nation's Independence Day, my mother made blueberry muffins for breakfast, complete with red, white, and blue star confetti sprinkles on the tops. I was "supervising" my younger brother as he washed the dishes and he unwittingly blurted out something extremely alliterative. I don't remember what the original statement was, but we went back and forth a few times, trying to out-alliterate one another.
P: Amazingly awesome alliteration!
K: Wow! What wonderful words we witness.
At this point E stumbled into the room, just barely awake after a sound night's sleep. She did not appear pleased with all of the excessive and unnecessary yammering at so early an hour (on a state-sponsored holiday, no less), put us in our place with one swift, clean blow...
E: Breakfast before babble.
...and trailed into the other room, hair all poufed to one side and blanket dragging on the floor behind her.

Happy Independence Day!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Nerdy Traffic Post for Donald Tetto

Okay I have been somewhat lackadaisical regarding my newtiness of late. Sorry guys. As some of you know, I have started work, which turns out to be delightful. I couldn't ask for nicer co-workers, and the projects we are working on are all so fascinating to me (although, as a Junior Engineer, I'm more in charge more of the grunt-work than actual design, but you've gotta start somewhere).

Last week I helped conduct a study for the town of Dedham (pronounded like DEAD-'em). See, many of the residents believe that a significant number --- or, as we say in the transportation world, "volume" --- of cars are cutting through their neighborhood (please refer to my AutoCAD drawing below) to bypass the traffic light where the two roads intersect.
You can imagine why this would be unsafe, with people speeding around to shave off a few seconds from their travels while little kids wait for the bus or play soccer in the street. So we placed several of our finest staff at key intersections to record the vehicles entering and exiting the neighborhood. A simple way to check whether the same vehicles were cutting through or not was to make note of the last three digits of the license plate (and the state, but they were mostly the same state anyway). If that same vehicle made a right-hand turn into the neighborhood off of the first major road and then appeared turning out of the neighborhood onto the other road, there is a pretty good chance that the vehicle was cutting through. It is not a foolproof method, because we did not write down the exact minute and second that we observed these license plate numbers. So there is no way of knowing how long a vehicle actually spent in the neighborhood. It is possible, therefore, that some of the people who actually live in the area arrive at their house through one route and leave via another.

Apparently it does not matter though, because a total of one car made the cut-through movement during the morning rush hour and less than fifteen made that same movement during the afternoon rush hour. It is safe to assume that there are even fewer cars during other times of the day.

Also we have an office volleyball team and are going go-cart racing in August. All in all, I am pleased with the career move.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Theremin Awesomeness

A vid sent to me by my awesome sister, Beth: Don't worry; be happy!

And while we're on the subject... here's a more mellow one, just as awesome:

I <3 theremins!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

101 signs that Newt needs to get a life

101 reasons it is a good thing that Newt is beginning work this coming Monday

1. spends way too long trying to pick* off the label from the basmati rice sack in hopes of making a cool shoulder bag from it
2. checks email compulsively
3. watches teeny-bopper music videos** ...numerous times in a row (seriously guys, click the link and check out the radio at ~1:26!!!)
4. bedroom is completely tidy
5. views multiple episodes of Friends, season 3 on DVD from the library
6. works on lolnewts for beth for over an hour:

blah blah I can't think of any more... but I'm sure there are. I think the basmati rice bag incident was a low point. Tomorrow I'll hopefully work on my motor scooter in hopes of getting it going for the summer season. Or go to the beach. Provided I can get baby sister to come with.

*I gave up, realizing that there was no way I'd get the entire label off, even if I picked for 20 hours. It was definitely adhering quite strongly to the bag.

**petra, do you recognize that sidewalk in the video???

Monday, June 4, 2007

What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing...

...and what do we think we might see?

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection
the lovers, the dreamers, and me.
Try to get your hands on the Sarah McLachlan version of this song; it's really quite soulful and lonely in her beautiful way of singing. I could probably listen to it 100 times in a row. Sometimes that kills a song, but I don't think it would kill this one.

I just looked out the window and saw my little brother walking home from school in the gloomy, gloomy drizzle.

What a time of goodbyes and change life has been of late.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Important Announcement

Two of my good friends are making a trip out to San Francisco next week. I mean, they are moving there, can you believe it???

I think they are leaving Monday, but I have no idea how long it takes to get across the entire nation. I would say at least 2 days, possibly more. Dis-ir-regardless, they are going to keep a blag of their journeys, with photos, perhaps!

Safe travels, guys!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dear Newt

I have received many letters from you, my readers. I will attempt to answer them all, but please bear with me.

The Taste of Water

Dear Newt,

Why does water taste better straight out of the garden hose?

Yours truly,
Joaquin V.

Dear Joaquin,

Well, quite simply, our unconscious brains associate a hose with such pleasant activities as watering the garden or filling balloons and squirt guns and other fun stuff like that. For this reason, the water itself contains the cool, cool sparkling magic of summer. When you sip from that garden hose, you are unknowingly sipping from that same draught of life that feeds all of the matter of the universe. That is why it tastes better.

The Dancing Newt


Dear Newt,

I've read your blag ever since the beginning, and I have to say you're one of the wisest, most awesome people I've ever known. So I have a tough question for you.

I was working in the garden the other day, watering the pea plants.The previous day, my brother and I set up some stakes with a wire for the plants to cling to as they grew. I noticed that a few of the plants had already sent out little stalks that were wrapped tightly around the wire. So I was wondering, how does a pea plant know to wrap its little tendrils around something? Can it feel that it is there?

Cathy P.
Dear Cathy,

Why thank you. I am flattered. I appreciate your continued readership. It gives me endless pleasure to know that these words do not merely fall into the void of the world's gaping mouth.
As for your question, you are exactly correct. But there is more. While it is true that a pea plant can "feel" that the stake or wire or whatever is there, it is not in the way that you or I feel that a physical object is present. We use our sense of touch. The pea plant feels with the fingers of the universe. That is, the universe can sense a greater presence; it can sense the existence of matter; it can sense our happiness or sadness, our anger or excitement.

Likewise, the pea plant, whose role is to usher in new life (and also juicy pods filled with plump, sweet nibbles), is an extension of this greater power. The pea plant "feels" that the stakes are there, "feels" the warmth of the sun and pulls itself upward to continue the greater pattern of growth, life, and rebirth.

Best regards,
The Dancing Newt

About Newt

Dear Newt,

How old are you? Also, what is your favorite color?

Jake R.
Dear Jake,

I am older than the wind and the sea. I am younger than a newborn babe. I dance on the wings of time, and I float on the current of the years. I know! Can you believe it?

My favorite color. That is an easy one. The color of children's laughter. I assume you know what color that is.

The Dancing Newt

New Ideas

Dear Newt,

When I learn something new, where does it go? How does my brain know it is there?

Kimmie J.
Dear Kimmie,

Well, have you ever heard anyone say that the universe is expanding? Every time anybody learns to do something new or has a new idea, the universe grows a tiny bit. So, as we all learn new ideas, they become a part of the universe, which we can tap into by relaxing and feeling its presence. And when people get old and die, everything they ever knew gets released into the air, into the streams, into the soil and floats around out there, becoming the substance of dreams for the following generations. Hope that clarifies everything for you.

all the best,
The Dancing Newt

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yo I'm on Fire!!!

Dude, let's all take a moment appreciate Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Especially that fourth movement. And while we're at it, let's appreciate these beautiful lyrics based from the poem by Friedrich Schiller:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken (Joy, beauteous spark of divinity)
Tochter aus Elysium, (Daughter of Elysium)
Wir betreten feuertrunken, (We enter drunk with fire)
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! (Heavenly One, your sanctuary!)

Deine Zauber binden wieder (Thy magic power reunites)
Was die Mode streng geteilt; (All that custom has strictly divided)
Alle menschen werden Brüder, (All men become brothers)
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. (Where your gentle wing abides.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In The Dark of the Night

A bitty treat for all of my little Don Bluth fans.

I simply cannot get over how marvelous this song is. I am especially thrilled by the harmonizing beetles and the wailing of electric guitars.

(doom her)

p.s. don't you like how I learned to embed videos?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Days...

...have been altogether pleasant. Pleasant, with an undercurrent of quiet sadness.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Newt vs. le Savoir Faire


I was pinning up my laundry on the porch and noticed a number of... how do I say this... artistic individuals dressed to the nines and congregating outside the Alumni House (which is across the street from my apartment). More and more of them filtered in, smoking cigars and wearing their berets and suitvests/long patterned dresses. I felt a bit bad that they would have to emerge from their little party to see my multi-colored underwear swinging shamelessly in the breeze there, but then I realized they'd probably actually really appreciate the vulgarity... the very bourgeois-ness** of the situation. So I kept pinning until the basket was empty and then went back inside.

I never said it was a good story.

*Photo courtesy of Miss Schneider. Yep, she actually had a photo of my underwear hanging on the porch.
**apologies for not knowing the proper French nominalization.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

a storm on the way

Oooh it is thundery out. It is rainy and the sky sizzles with flashes of lightning. Somehow its energy is captured into my blood, zipping through my veins. I turned down rides from two different people so I could splash around in my flip-flops on the way to another group meeting… It is the last one I'll ever have to attend. Okay I lied. The second to last one. But that doesn't even bother me because I got to play in the puddles on the way there.

I saw the clouds rolling in this afternoon, and I knew something was coming. As I went into my final exam at 3:00 PM, the sky was still somewhat sunny. But when I emerged again at six, it had begun to get overcast. By the time the dusk approached, you could hear the deep ripples of thunder beyond the horizon.

On the way to the meeting, I passed my downstairs neighbors smoking on the porch. "Great weather, huh?" They chuckled.

The meeting only lasted 1/2 hour and then I was out in the storm again.

Annnd now my roommates just returned with amazing junkfood (CC Potato Chips and Newman Os) for me to eat because it is my last all-nighter everrrrr in my whole college careerrrrrr!

Here, have some song lyrics (courtesy of Gnarls Barkley):

There's truth in the thunder

Love in the lightning
The feeling is frightening
Yet, isn't it exciting?
I'm something like stormy weather
If I weren't we'd never huddle together
Do I have to tell you
that I'm also the sunlight
that shines shortly after?

...only my favoritest song right now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A Very Bad Idea:

Putting an opened can of Sprite in the water bottle holder on my bicycle.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Beautiful World Paradox

I go back and forth between seeing the world as amazingly beautiful and depressingly sad.

In this interfaith women’s study group I’ve been attending, the discussion leader guides us through meditations/ visualizations at the end of each session. During this last one she gave us a few moments once we had reached that peaceful state, to look inside ourselves to discover what we had been unable to hear or understand previously. The following image came to me:

I was climbing up steep stone stairs. I was walking alongside my Lord. This was clearly a metaphor for life, but where were we going? We kept walking and walking. There seemed to be no destination in sight. I realized I had been going for years now. I was starting to wonder why. But then I realized my legs had become so much stronger. Finally I saw someone I recognized. I invited my friend to join us. I helped when he stumbled at the beginning.

And something was growing inside of us. It had started as just a little glow… but when the friend joined, it became a little brighter. We passed more people and invited them to join. We laughed. We helped each other when we grew tired. Each time somebody joined the group, everyone’s light grew a little brighter. Gradually the path seemed to flatten out (or maybe it just seemed easier?) And I realized there was no destination, was no heaven. Or the destination was in the journey itself or something. Maybe Belinda Carlisle was right (if you know what that’s worth): heaven is a place on earth?

That is a beautiful idea and all, but it’s not so easy to implement. I was taking the bus this morning like I do every week, and as often happens, I saw so many people’s struggles, so much stuff that I’ve never had to deal with personally. My heart breaks every time. I just don’t understand why some people have it so hard and why for others, life goes so smoothly. I don’t deserve my life any more than the young woman with the chubby-cheeked little boy deserves her cheating, sleazy husband or the guy in the wheelchair deserves to not be able to run with the breeze. And I actually felt pretty wretched.

This woman at church works at an orphanage. She described the lives of the children. They have been abused; many of them don’t even know their parents anymore. They have lost all reason to trust anyone anymore. It probably wouldn’t take much from a caring adult to make a difference. And there are so many other people who could use a little love. And the thing is I have love to give. I am just scared to share my love with strangers. So often I just sit by and do nothing. Maybe I think people will be insulted? Maybe I am lazy? Maybe both and something else too? I do not know.

Maybe the challenge is to see the world as beautiful and sad at the same time... or beautiful in spite of the sadness. Sad enough to feel the need to reach out in love, beautiful enough for hope?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What made my day:

  1. Getting promotional pens from the guest speaker
  2. Discovering that the grippy part comes off and if you stick your pinky finger in it it feels really weird... the blood pressure builds up as though it's going to explode (your finger I mean)
  3. Telling my two friends in my project group about this sensation
  4. Watching as they actually try to replicate it...

Seriously, why do people listen to me?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Grown-up Eating

Here's something I wrote some time around 2:00 AM Thursday:
Since I have two huge projects due tomorrow and my roommates are out of the picture (gone for the weekend/asleep, like all of the other normal people I know) so I can't bother them, I thought I'd write a new post...

I'm pretty sure I am losing my taste. Okay, some would argue I never had taste to begin with. And they'd be correct. But I'm not referring to my lack of appreciation for the more sophisticated things of life, here. I am talking about my actual taste buds... aging.

I think they are becoming less sensitive. Yesterday Lauren made pumpkin bread from a prepared mix. It was mildly flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg and stuff. I thought it was pretty good. But Jakki didn't like it because it had too many spices. I hardly noticed them...

Chinese food? Not spicey at all. My orange tofu had a chili pepper next to it on the menu. Tasted pretty bland to me. Lemonade? Required me to add more water and some pure lemon juice to the bottle so I didn't feel like I was drinking sugar water. Sour Patch Kids? They taste like Swedish Fish. And my mom has started getting annoyed because apparently I add red pepper flakes to everything...

So clearly I have much lower thresholds for certain tastes than I used to. The only thing that gives me hope is that my little bud-a-roos are actually MORE sensitive to two flavors: sugar and salt. If anything, I thought the pumpkin bread was too sweet. Same with the orange tofu. And salty is even worse. Corn chips! Wheat Thins! I have to brush the thick layer of salt from the surface before it goes in my mouth or it will taste awful, like I am swallowing seawater... crunchy, whole-grain seawater. I even found myself picking small crystals off of pretzel sticks with my fingernail the other day.

My tongue is becoming gustatorily polarized!

Oh well. At least I still like butter.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Jakki just informed me yesterday morning that she's going to start moving out at the end of this week. That means graduation really is coming soon. She got some used cardboard boxes and when I came home, they were filled with her clothes, taped shut, and stacked up in the living room.

And here's the thing: I don't want to graduate. I don't want things to change! I mean, I'm looking forward to my new job, but I hate it when periods of my life come to a conclusion. I hate saying goodbye to people, places, and things (to nouns, I guess?). Especially to the people.

I was in my bed last night doing some work and Lauren sailed into my room, completely frustrated about something. I scooted over a little and she hopped in the bed. A few minutes later Jakki appeared at the door, groggy-eyed in her fuzzy flannel pjs. She couldn't sleep. I shoved my work aside, and she joined us, draping herself at the foot of the bed. We all just loafed for awhile: making silly jokes, discussing hypotheticals, and simply enjoying each other's presence. Gosh there is so much I'm going to miss...

Saturday, April 28, 2007


So I was at the dollar store (formerly known as 99¢ Forever ) to pick up some supplies for my lesson at church tomorrow, and you’ll never believe what I found there...

That’s right. 8 Fancy Erasers. What I shall do with them all remains a mystery at present. I gave Lauren and Donald one apiece, but I still have six… I don’t know if I’ll do that much erasing in my whole life.

Plus I’m not sure if I could bear actually erasing with one of them, not sure how I'd feel about the gradual wearing away of their brightly colored bodies from the long term effects of friction.

Man, they have so much spunk! Just look at them… Aren't they superb?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sometimes the world is so beautiful...

I can change the world with my own two hands
Make it a better place with my own two hands
Make it a kinder place with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands

I can make peace on earth with my own two hands
I can clean up the earth with my own two hands
I can reach out to you with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands

I'm going to make it a brighter place with my own two hands
I'm going to make it a safer place with my own two hands
I'm going to help the human race with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands

(Jack Johnson & Ben Harper)

Walking back from campus, I passed little beds of freshly planted violets, all brilliant shades of tangerine, plum, raspberry, and buttermilk. I saw that the gardening crew was taking a break next to the sidewalk and I asked, sure they would think I was crazy, “Can I plant one?”

“Of course!” the woman said. “There’s a whole bed over here that we still need to do. Which colors do you want?” I selected two cases of flowers: one of deep purple and one yellowish-orange. The woman and man directed me over to the other plot and helped carry supplies. “But… where should I plant them?”

“In the front there, anywhere you want. Thank you so much.”

“No, no! Thank you! I was just wishing I could do some gardening, and now I have the chance.” It was simply fantabulous! So much freedom, so many little flowers to insert into the welcoming soil. The garden crew left me there with a small shovel and the two boxes of flowers. I began with a ring of purple flowers around the low evergreen shrub. Then a larger ring of the yellow ones, staggered slightly from the purple ones. The sun was warm, there was a lovely spring breeze. In the lull between classes, the students and staff were more laid back, they smiled and waved, or even said little comments. “What a great day for that!” or “Makes me want to go home and do my own.” I started working on the same pattern around the second bush.

My friend Justino walked by. He kind of chuckled at me a little, sitting there in the dirt with my knees covered in bits of soil and leaves. But then I asked him if he had ever planted a flower before. His eyes perked up but his body was uncertain. You know, as if he didn't want anyone to see him planting flowers. “You just dig, and then put the flower in and then cover it again?” “Exactly!” I gave him the trowel and carefully removed a yellow flower with its roots from the package. He placed it in the hole and covered the base over with some of the soil, immensely pleased with himself as he patted the surface flat around it. “See?” I said. “Now you can see that flower every time you walk by and remember that you planted it!” He laughed again and headed on his way, being sure to point out to the gardeners further down the sidewalk that he had planted that yellow flower… that one, over there.

I finished that bush and moved on to the next one, which was under a slender willow (?) tree. My hands were covered in dirt; it had accumulated in thick crescents under my nails. I squished lumps of soil between my fingers and let it crumble back to the ground. Is there a better way to spend a spring afternoon?

“Awww… don’t sit on her.” I looked up to see a kindly older man. “Don’t sit on her.” I stood up and realized I had been sitting on a memorial plaque. “She was a wonderful woman. Back when I was the dean of students, Betsy was my secretary. She succumbed to cancer.” The plaque said 1998… way before I was here. “She always had a big beautiful bowl filled with candy. Students and faculty from all over campus would come by and she would always cheer them up if they were having a bad day. And she always had candy for them. And she was great with customer service. People would call any time morning or afternoon, and she would make them feel like they were the most important thing in the world. Some day you’ll have to come by my office up there on the third floor, and I’ll show you a picture of her. She was a wonderful woman. Thank you for taking care of her plot here.”


Finally the gardening crew woman (whose name I found out was Kathleen) came back. She admired my little circles of flowers and began sifting mulch with a pitchfork to cover the bed. “How long have you worked here?” I asked.

“Oh a long time… six years.” We chatted about school, graduation, jobs, and her dreams of pursuing a degree in art. She didn't see how it could be practical though.

“You know what is a good field?” I said. “Graphic design. You know, like on computers.”

“Oh yeah… I was thinking of that actually. My mom says I should just go for it, but I don’t know.”

“You should do it, if that’s what you want. It’s never too late.”

“Yeah. Maybe. May-be…”


Why is the world beautiful? ...because you just sit there digging in the dirt and these amazing people come along and share themselves with you: their stories, their lives. And as you go on, you realize these little strands have begun to form, even in those few short minutes. You feel yourself being gently woven into the larger web of common humanity.

It was a day of thanks.

(Donald is visiting Lauren and very pleasantly agreed to photograph the lovely dirt under my fingernails)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Ok... apparently I suck at them. I didn't recognize him when he came in the room because he was wearing a hat.

Give me a break!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

For Beth, before she goes to Hungaria

It was late one spring evening when they heard the call. From every corner of the forest they came. The smooth ones rolled along easily, the less symmetrical ones hurried in from all directions as well, wobbling with their lopsided gaits. It was rare that Granite Granny would summon them under the cover of moonlight for a secret meeting of the Midnight Rock Council.

The first to arrive was Pumice Pam. She glided softly in, barely skimming the mossy floor. And Sandstone Sam, significantly smaller since the last meeting of the Council, what with all of the exfoliation. Next arrived the fiery Felicia Flint and her best friend, slender Silvia Slate. Gradually the rest trickled in: Marbled Mable, Michael Mica, Sean Shale, and of course Frank. Nobody really knew what kind of rock Frank was. But he was a rock at least… unlike Coarse-Aggregate Carl who was actually a chunk of concrete. The Council allowed him to listen in, provided he stayed a significant distance from the group and kept quiet the whole time.

They all huddled around Granite Granny to hear what she had to say.

(to be continued...!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

I am a liar. Well, not exactly a liar. I did not wait until after the FE Exam to change the layout. However, I didn't change it myself either. The awesome Mr. Tetto was kind enough to supply the HTML skills necessary to insert the image at the top. You like?

For serious, though, I am banning myself from all forms of diversion, including the following:
  • friends (unless they are in need)
  • BBC News
  • goofing off
  • fooling around
  • daydreaming
  • dress up
  • Craig's List, Boston
  • blogs/forums/Facebook
  • pondering the questions of the whole world...
So, I'm sorry, buddies. You will not be hearing from me until next week. I need to review the cumulative knowledge I've acquired over four years of schooling (!) If I can just get through this review book, I think I may be all right for getting through the 8-hour exam. Ahhh! and Yikes!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Like the beloved Schroeder I'd like to acknowledge my deep appreciation for the man called Beethoven (despite the fact that he never had his picture on a bubblegum card). It would be sweet to know more about music and music theory and all of those cool terms that my sister throws around, like "counterpoint" or "chord progression." If only I had the vocabulary instead of just my own feeble words to do his music justice.

Haaa! I'm gonna do it anyway...

I love how the chords pour from the piano in rich buttery cascades, wrapping around my body and seeping into my soul. You feel like a voiceless beggar, a wretched sinner, and finally, a fully exalted creature, a child of the Most High --- and all of this in the space of fifteen minutes!

And that is just what I love about it: his moodiness... how the stretches of darkness - of total despair - make the joy that much deeper and meaningful when it finally does arrive. There is just some music that does it for you, ya know?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sans Training Wheels - II

While we're on the subject of my bicycle, I would like to write a bit of an ode, since it has now been my companion for almost ten years.

To my bicycle:

I think we both remember that one spring day in 7th grade, that day I confidently made the trip to the bicycle store with my parents. After test-driving several different models I finally decided upon a black hybrid Specialized bicycle. You had an adjustable seat, thick air-filled tires, and amazingly awesome grip shifters. You glided effortlessly across the pavement. Each stride with my feet sent us sailing down the street, together. I descended hills like a breeze and could climb them again almost as easily. I was so pleased, so proud to be seen with you, and I imagine you felt the same about me.

However, I don't think you remember what life was like before I found you. With six of us kids under one roof and my mother possessing [u]naturally frugal tendencies, we never had new bicycles. As I recall, my first bike ever was a hand-me-down that my dad fixed up and spray-painted magenta at my request. That hot-pink beast was so old that it had solid rubber wheels instead of the typical pneumatic tires one usually sees. Likewise, it had a metal cover over the chain mechanism so I wouldn't scrape my little calves and a hole at the end of each handle where the previous owner had plucked the plastic streamers. I fell off that bicycle often, but each time I climbed back up and eventually learned to balance on my own.

I loved my bikes. Each one slightly bigger than the previous, procured from a family friend or "roadside recycling." I loved the thrill of pedaling full speed down the hill in front of my parents' house. But I dreamed of the day I would have a REAL bicycle with handle breaks and gears. Yes. Gears. Or at least gear changers. At the time I didn't really understand the purpose of these integral bicycle components, but I assumed they had something to do with that sophisticated clicking noise that the bikes of more mature people made (now that I am older and wiser, of course, I realize that the clicking comes from the ratchet in the rear wheel, not the gears at all). But that sound is still just as lovely --- if not lovelier, with you --- as we soar down hills.

Anyways, as soon as I was old enough, I started babysitting with vigor (although why parents trusted their precious children to my eleven-year-old care is a bit baffling... and probably a whole other story). I saved all of my earnings and... well you know the rest.

But today, as we were riding back to my apartment from the Student Union, I realized that the years have not been so kind to you. Yes it is possible I may have mistreated you a bit. Okay, let's admit it, you are in pretty crappy shape. The chain grinds and clatters against the gears, and your paint is chipping in many locations. The rubber on your grip shifters is beginning to tear. And your seat has seen better days, mainly due to the befuddled neighborhood squirrels who have an appetite for synthetic leather and worn yellow foam cushion.

But, to be honest, you do the trick. I don't race; I don't try to maneuver over boulders and roots on mountain trails. I take you to class or the train station or occasionally to make the trek up the hill to the supermarket. I don't need any other bike than you. And through it all, you have been faithful, loyal, dependable. I couldn't ask for anything more. I love you, bicycle!



Here you are, in all your glory:

Sans Training Wheels

I had a dream the other night that I went to the bike store to get some replacement parts for my bicycle bell which broke last summer.

(The bell itself is actually really cool. It is shiny and metal and has a turtle sticker on the top. However, I guess it wasn’t assembled very securely because I went over a tremendous pothole (granted they are huge where I live) and the whole thing exploded… sending gears and screws and other pieces in every direction. I gathered up the top cover and as many parts as I could find but could not locate the two plastic gears or the black lever you press with your thumb to actually make it ring.)

So in my dream, I went to the store in hopes that I could purchase those missing components. The old man at the counter gestured to a dusty cardboard box in the corner by the window. I peered into the depths and saw that there were only intact bicycle bells, no parts at all. I picked up one; it was heavy and chunky and cost $20.00! I dusted off another, and another… they were all in the same size and price range. Dude, no way was I paying thirty bucks for any of that junk!

And then there was that one rectangular white one that looked like an old-school cassette player. I read on the scratched plastic wrapper about how this one possessed a motion-sensor. You didn't need to do anything; it could sense if people were in your way and would emit a signal. I pressed one of the buttons and it produced a series of whining beeps.


Friday, April 13, 2007

New Image

Do you like the new[t] image (har har...) at the top of the page?

I spent like 5 hours in GIMPshop working on that dumb thing. I don't even think I like it better than the Matisse one I originally had (see below). I was picturing something cooler, but alas, my GIMPage skills are not so hot.

Anyways I ought to go to bed. Enough blagging for this one tonight. Here's the deal: after the FE Exam, which is next Saturday, I'll look up some HTML code and figure out how to make the picture a part of the title bar. I think that would look a lot better kind of spread out across the top with the title running below all of the floaty flowers and green dots.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So my stomach has been a little woozy all day after eating cake batter for breakfast. Yes it is true: the Newt has tried to bake! Two of the people in my group for Creative Non-Fiction had birthdays this week, and, in a flurry of housewifely-ness/craving cupcakes, I decided to bring a little treat to class this afternoon.

Actually, I shouldn’t say “tried to bake,” because those cupcakes turned out pretty darn well, given my past baking transgressions (which include melting the entire stash of Easter candy my mother had been hiding and somehow botching a batch of cornbread such that, no matter how long I baked it, it never solidified).

See, baking is a precise skill, somewhere between art and science. And the thing is, I don’t really do precise very well. That is why chemistry experiments were not my strong suit. I loved physics, though, and, food-wise, I enjoy cooking. It is interesting, but I think that there are baking people and cooking people (these loose categories I also generalize to people who do not create with food). Or at least people to whom one or the other comes more naturally:

  • Bakers are skilled at interpreting and following the directions precisely. And a great baker gets to the point where he or she has an intuitive understanding of the principles behind the directions. However, by nature of the medium, this intuition can never be achieved without the initial precision.
  • With cookers, as with cooking, I think the intuition is the first step, and from there, the precision can be reached. The cooker imagines the dish to taste a certain way and adjusts it slightly by adding different seasonings, simmering it a bit longer, and so forth, until the food acquires the desired flavor.

Ideally, I think a person ought to be able to do both, when necessary. Although I have been training myself to be a better baker, it does not come as naturally to me.

Anyways, as I said, those sweet cuppin’ cakes turned out quite well. Granted, there was a huge range in the sizes, due to uneven filling of baking tray liners, but I can honestly say that the height variability was their main flaw. Well, that, and the fact that one of them slid off of the tray into the slush on the sidewalk as I was walking to class. No real harm done there though, since it landed face up. So, I just sneaked it back onto the tray while no one was looking.

I only wish I had taken a picture of them when I opened the microwave (the soft yellow light reflecting off of their glowing golden surfaces as they swarmed across the lazy Susan… it was quite a sight to behold). For the record, they were waiting in there while I went to my morning class so that the mice wouldn’t snack on them. Yes, we have a mouse problem. No, I did not make cupcakes in the microwave.

In other news, ugh! I had a total Chewbacca relapse earlier today. Those happen with greater and greater infrequency. Still, it makes me sigh… and want to cry a couple of tears. I know I placed an advertisement in the school paper for my dream guy, but now I don’t really imagine I’ll ever be able to trust myself to someone like that again. Loving somebody else is just a scary thing these days.

(I did not actually place the advert.)