What, a week?

My title was going to be "What a week!" but I decided to play with the punctuation in order to convey a different meaning. I was inspired by Lynne Truss, whose recent book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, has repopularized the art of punctuation use. See CNN.com's article on Lynne Truss or listen to her interview on 3 May 2004 with Terry Gross.

I had two exams with the same professor this week, both of which went well as far as I could tell from where I was sitting. The professor also teaches undergrads, so in his hurrying to get their grades done first, he has relegated our exams to last. Ho hum. Hopefully the grades will be up on LSU's website soon. For now, I'm trying to decide in what order I should tell the other events of the week.

This morning, I woke up just before I had to drive Jack to the mechanic to pick up his car so he could drive to work. What was wrong with the car? He had to have the air filter replaced, and even though it was a quick repair, his car didn't make it to the mechanic until yesterday morning. He had to drive to work, of course, so with a bit of creativity and lots of rides from Jeannette, I was able to be successfully car-less for the three days his car wasn't driveable. And WHY wasn't it driveable? What happened to the air filter? It rained so hard on Tuesday and Wednesday that on his way to work Wednesday morning, he flooded his car. He managed to get it stuck on a road near our house in knee-deep water, so he called me to come pick him up. We called a tow truck from home, but they weren't going to be available for several hours due to the nasty conditions all over the city, so we drove back to where the car was stuck. One gracious neighbor helped us push it 100 yards or so out of the water, and then I drove behind his car and bumped and nudged it at 5 mph all the way home. Neither of our cars showed any evidence of the nudging, so that was a relief. Jack tried to do some trouble-shooting with his dad over the phone, but after he tried several things, his dad suggested that he just take it somewhere. (Incidentally, one of the things his dad suggested he try was spraying the ignition wires with WD-40; did you know that "WD" actually stands for "water displacement" and that displacing water was its original use? People discovered the other, more common uses for it later. I thought that was interesting.)

I didn't mind being car-less, because I found plenty of things to do on campus between events. I even managed to get a ride from one of our professors to Dr. Giger's end-of-the-year soiree yesterday evening, which was a blast. (Who knows how to make an "e" with an accent besides ALT+0233? That doesn't work in web publishing, apparently.) The party was supposed to last from 4 to 6, but I didn't get there until close to 5, and a few of us (Jeannette, her husband Chris, and a recent musicology Ph.D. recipient named Melissa) stayed until about 9! We had a great time talking and then looking at all of Dr. Giger's CDs and movies, and he was kind enough to let me borrow his La Traviata DVD that we saw in class so that Jack can see it. It's a film of a fabulously moving stage production of Verdi's opera, starring Angela Gheorghiu and conducted by Sir Georg Solti. I can't wait for him to watch it!

Speaking of watching DVDs, Lisa and Joel will be pleased to know that we rented the first season of the Fox television series 24 from Netflix and watched twelve episodes in three days. They arrived in the mail Wednesday, the day before my Schenker exam, so we watched only two episodes that night, but we watched seven episodes on Thursday night. Our DVD player is a bit finicky, and it wouldn't read one of the DVDs, so we actually watched the four episodes from that DVD in here on the computer. We popped some popcorn and sat on the futon, so it was fun, but we didn't get to sleep until very late that night. We watched the next three episodes yesterday, so now we've mailed back those DVDs to Netflix and are waiting for the second half of the season!

For those unfamiliar with the show's format, the whole season, 24 episodes, comprises one day. Each episode presents an hour of the day with events occurring in real time, so they use a lot of split screens to show what multiple characters are doing. It's a very daring way to tell a fascinating and suspenseful story. The first season takes place on the day of the California presidential primary, and the first African-American candidate with a real shot at the White House has just received a death threat that the Secret Service and the counter-terrorism people know is credible. Kiefer Sutherland plays a CIA agent with the counter-terrorism unit, so most of the action centers around him or the presidential candidate. I won't say anything else about the plot, but so many things happen in each episode that, as Joel said when he was getting us hooked back in February, by the time you get to the fifth or sixth episode, it's a completely different show. Supposedly, the next season, also just one day, actually takes place several years later, so it'll be really interesting to finish this first "day" and see what happens to the characters after several years. Neat, huh? We like it. It's the cinematic equivalent of a page turner, so I can't imagine how people who actually follow the show on television can wait a week between each episode! It reminds me of the Saturday when I was sixteen that my dad showed me the Star Wars trilogy for the first time. After The Empire Strikes Back ended with its huge cliffhanger, my dad said, "Okay, now keep in mind I had to wait THREE YEARS to find out what happened, so I'm being very nice to you by letting you watch the last movie right now."

Wow, it's already 1:30 and I haven't done anything so far on this Saturday except drive to the mechanic, eat, and watch TV, so I'm going to go take a bath and then start working on my plans for the summer class I'm teaching. I've had a fairly leisurely week (besides taking two exams and pushing Jack's car out of a football-field-sized puddle), but now it's time to get things in gear and plan this class. It's so exciting to have one all to myself, but it does mean that, for the first time, I'm the only one responsible for preparations!

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Aaron has set up a reference chart on his web page for special characters in HTML. I once emailed you this link but it probably got lost somewhere:
On the above page you will find how to make all kind of special characters, including é. You can use either the ISO code or HTML code to get your characters; both é and é produce the desired effect. Since you know or guessed that ALT+0233 was the way to create it on the screen, é is probably the easier of the two for you to remember.

It should be noted that not all of the characters that can be created with ALT+???? have such a correspondence to their ISO code. That being said, any character between ALT+0000 and ALT+0255 is probably safe to use in this way, but you should be aware that not all of these codes correspond to printed characters.
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