Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to choose the most vampire friendly college

So me and Erin were talking about The Vampire Diaries and villain decay the other afternoon when it struck me that Twilight is full of bullshit of the most obscene proportions (as in, more bullshit than the usual bullshit people bring up when discussing Twilight). Think about it--the Cullens pose as high school students forever? No wonder vampires say they've been damned to eternity in hell! I absolutely loved high school and even I wouldn't want to repeat it more than once.
This is a binturong. It's very cute and I just thought everyone should know this exists. It's screaming "HUG ME, HUMAN FRIENDS!"

Think about it. Edward tells Bella that they're posing as high school students so that they can blend in with a human town for the maximum amount of time. But is faking your own death every four versus every eight years such a pain in the ass that it's worth going through high school forever? Why not pose as college students? They'd be able to go all over the world, they'd be able to study absolutely anything instead of repeating Algebra Two over and over and over, and no one would care if they were weird. I can only conclude that Edward and Friends don't know how to find a vampire friendly college. This is a shame, as they're quite possibly the only people rich enough to afford higher education at the moment. So I thought I'd jot down some quick tips on choosing the proper college for America's most oppressed minority: vampires.

Find a college that offers night classes

Unless you're a bullshitty Twilight vampire (who I'm starting to suspect only repeats high school to meet underage girls) who isn't affected by sunlight, you're going to want to find a college that offers night classes. While evening classes have traditionally been seen as part of community and commuter colleges, designed to accommodate people who already have careers, many elite institutions are using night classes as a way to provide more flexible scheduling to students who have inflexible commitments (like, for example, the urge to slaughter small mammals and drink their blood).

Cornell offers plenty of night classes. In fact, starting mid-November, all classes that begin past three PM are night classes. I took a night class last year. Every Monday and Wednesday, I'd grab a milkshake from the dining room, climb to the freaking third floor of Morrill Hall, and promptly pass out while the teacher droned on and on about China. (Still aced the class, parents!). For matriculating vampires, finding the proper array of night classes is crucial to promoting a positive learning environment. Nothing detracts from an education like bursting into flames on the way to class. Or bursting into sparkly glitter.

Dining options: Ag schools, night life

Vampires traditionally display a wide variety of eating habits--well, for creatures that only eat blood, that is. Some vampires feed exclusively off humans. Others prefer animals. A few vampires feed exclusively off cats, but they're weird and we don't talk about them much. This is one of the complicating factors in defining 'vampire-friendly' colleges. Texas A&M has a big agricultural program, which is great if you're the kind of vampire who feeds off cows. But it's also in Texas, meaning that a lot of people have guns and Adeline Parks is more than willing to donate her giant silver earrings to melt into bullets. 
Got that, you bloodsucking varmits?
Pro tip--if you're the kind of vampire that feeds off humans, try going to a northern school. Why? Scarves! Nothing helps hide those suspicious neck marks like a school where everyone's always wearing scarves. Also, liberal northern college students will totally support your alternative lifestyle. Well, right up until the point where you start eating them (although, if you feed off those annoying drunk sorority girls who used to hang around under my window each night last year, you might find some surprising support)

Choosing Your Major: What Works For Eternity?

Lots of vampires are drawn to the easier majors--history, for example, since most of them have experienced it (though your paper on the taste of Queen Victoria's blood probably won't land you an A, even if it does have historical flavor). I'd like to encourage them to branch out a little more. Take something that isn't so open to changes that it's different every decade. You don't want to be one of those vampires who shows up to BIOM 3450 explaining how the liver produces blood and how to balance the four vital humors. 
And you don't want to quote this particular bit of medical wisdom. 
Physics can be useful. The basic laws really haven't changed since Newton stumbled on them. Of course, those basic laws really don't explain how a body can turn into mist or why you have an anathema towards religious symbols, but it's still good to know. Take something out of the box, like English. Hey, the undead don't really need jobs! Architecture is a good course if you like the idea of designing your own imperious lairs. Just don't take chemistry. I'm sitting in it right now and I'm being bored to death. 

Evaluate Your Housing Options

Who doesn't like to live in the dorms? Sane people! Also, vampires! While dorm life is great if you want to live on top of people who smell bad and leave their hair in the shower, the normal tolerance levels generally stop at someone hauling in a coffin to replace their bed (though if you do need to sleep all day, you'll find yourself in good company). There's a nice source of food nearby, but you don't want to get lazy and end up with the Freshman Fifteen-People-Whose-Iron-Levels-Are-Suspiciously-Low. 

For this reason, it's recommended that vampire students find a place off campus. Cornell has some lovely old fashioned houses built back in the 1800's up on the picturesque Forest Home Drive. Regular students can't even afford a doormat for one of those places, but for some of your older vampires, it'll be like stepping back in time to their childhoods (the cars whizzing up and down picturesque Forest Home Drive will ruin this image, so it's probably best to wear earmuffs to get the full effect. An off campus apartment can also be nice, provided you don't mind the scent of decay coming from the week old bananas in your trash can. Hell, you're a vampire, so you probably love it. In which case--can I start using your trashcans? Because mine stink. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dad's Guest Blog!

Remember the story of William Tell?  The one where Tell shoots the apple off his son's head.  As the story goes, Tell was regarded as one of the finest marksmen in all of Switzerland, and as one of its more defiant citizens.  Upon refusing to pledge fealty to a local governor, he is commanded to face death along with his son.  His only possible escape is to use his crossbow to knock an apple from his son's head from some distance away.  The legend grows when he succeeds in splitting the apple, yet the governor notes that when Tell prepared his crossbow, he removed two arrows from his quiver.  The governor inquires as to the purpose of the second arrow, to which Tell replies that if he had inadvertently killed his son, the second arrow was to find a home in the Governor!  At which point in time, Tell is again arrested for his hubris.  (He eventually escapes again, but that is another story.)

The story became so famous that they even had to write the William Tell Overture and then make it the theme music to The Lone Ranger.   Not sure how they came up with that.  Perhaps the arrow-motif.

Elizabeth has always wanted her own bow and to learn to shoot.   Never really a hunter, but mostly for fun.   Then her sister wanted to give it a try as well.  We went to visit a bow clinic offered by a former Olympic competitor, where they shoot at targets about 3 feet in diameter from a distance almost a football field away....and they actually still find the bullseye.  Take that William Tell.  Think we learned that Liz shoots left handed, oh, and we also learned that you NEVER were supposed go retrieve your arrows while someone else was still shooting!  Like duh!

We finally acquiesced and Liz and her sister went and got some bows from Dick's Sporting goods.  Think they nearly hit their foot when aiming at the target the first time.  But they've been at it a week or so now, developing expertise.  Yeah experts now.

Liz comes home one day from her summer job at the Park last week, raving about the great day.  All the fun they had in "primitive skills" camp where she'd been assigned as a counselor    Hey what do you know, they teach kids to shoot arrows in this camp.  Liz does.  And what was so fun, Dad inquires? I was told they were trying to catch arrows that they were shooting at each other.  Not the kids, the counselors.  Primitive indeed.

"Yeah," she goes on, "I was shooting at one of the other counselor who was trying to catch the arrow as it passed by.  The first one she missed because I didn't come close enough to she told me to aim closer."

Are you getting this picture?  Apparently this whole "arrow catching" thing was an episode of Myth Busters, who succeeded in debunking some awesome catching skills demonstrated by David Carradine in an episode of Kung Fu.  I guess I missed that episode...hmmmmm, both the Myth Busters and Kung Fu episodes.

So I'm thinking this is crazy.  Smart people do not pretend to be William Tell and shoot arrows at or in close proximity to their friends.   Liz's friend had to duck out of the way of the second shot.  Missed again, rats!  I began to have visions of Christmas Story and Ralphie, "you'll shoot your eye out."

Later that week, Liz's mom was explaining the story to some 13 year olds.  They were also amazed.  One asked Diane, "Do they go to college?"  Yup, they actually do.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Perfect Primitive Wedding

So this past week I've been working as a camp counselor at Riverbend Park's primitive teaching camp: a place where children learn to make tools and weapons just like the Indians did it, except the Indians didn't use power saws when they were running out of time to finish a child's spear for them. It was a lot of fun, but we had to do a lot of cleaning-up this afternoon. Someone rented out the same pavilion we use for their wedding reception. Unfortunately, it's going to rain all weekend, and all those sticks we chucked out will almost certainly make their way back inside.

So what will this poor woman face at her venue? I can't tell. But at least the kids aren't there, because if they were, here's a few things they'd be facing.

The Traditional Rock Throw

I've been told you shouldn't throw rice at weddings, because it's bad for the environment. It's also bad for the bride, who has to spend the whole ride to the reception venue picking rice out of her hair. I've heard of people throwing birdseed, which is really nice for the birds, provided you live in an area with abundant songbirds and very few hawks. 

Imagine this. You're walking down the aisle surrounded by friends, family, and flocks of twittering songbirds. Suddenly, a flock of hawks swoop down and rip the songbirds apart, scattering entrails on your big day. The Greeks would call it auspicious. I call it grounds for divorce. 
But at primitive camp, we know that gathering the seeds from the plants that make birdseed takes hours and isn't really worth it. Instead, we'd turn to something much more readily available for a weapon: rocks. There's a lot of shiny ones down by the river we could pick up to toss at the bride. And dodging them would be just the thing to get everyone warmed up for the reception!
This is the first reason it's good that wedding wasn't scheduled for a weekday. 

Favors? Special Sticks

There are thousands of sticks in the wood. Some are wet. Some are dry. Some are skinny. Some are fat. Some have bark. Some do not. Adults have a great deal of trouble telling sticks apart because sticks are sticks. By definition, a stick is not very important. 

Unless you're a child. You've found The Ultimate Stick. Maybe your counselor has sharpened it using a machete. That stick is your stick, and it will never ever compare to any other stick in the forest. If it is broken, no replacement will do. Your counselor will have to glue it back together or you will cry. If they try to offer you a similar looking stick, you will know automatically it's the wrong stick and you will report to your parents that your counselors have really bad eyesight. Some sticks are special and adults can't find them.

What better favor to hand out to guests at your wedding? Just send your ring bearer and flower girl out to find as many special sticks as they can. I promise you, they won't disappoint. Just make extra clear that these are not keeping sticks, but giving away sticks. Make this as clear as humanly possible, then clarify it. They still might cry, but don't give in. Don't let them keep a single stick, because they will keep every special stick they find and every stick will be impossibly special. Their parents will not thanks you, and neither will your favorless guests.

Poison Ivy Decor

All weddings need a theme--something that draws the ceremony together. Having a wedding theme has been a tradition since the Dark Ages (where the theme was usually 'drag the screaming teenage bride to the bedroom by her hair'). For the bride on a budget, it's good to stick to a fairly common theme; something where you'll have lots of options and won't have to pay for too much custom work. And nothing's more common--nor easier for children to find--than poison ivy. 

The leaves are pretty, green, and fresh this time of year. As an added bonus, you can also get it in vine format. This perfect floral accompaniment will bring roses to your cheeks! Your single friends won't fight over the bouquet if you make it known you've got some of this in there. As an added bonus, you can use the vines for a romantic bonfire at the reception (note: don't do this. It's just that my campers brought back a poison ivy vine to use as firewood). 

DJ Screams-A-Lot

Last but not least, all receptions need a good DJ. I'm not a fan of modern pop music, aside from Call Me Maybe, which is so catchy you have to like it or go crazy. Rap music to me is just screaming. Rock music to me is loud banging. 

Thankfully, the primitive camp children are good at both. A good way to get them to scream is to present them with one of nature's most famed creatures: the common honeybee. Even one of those bugs will evoke all kinds of melodious noises from children. They also tend to scatter when faced with a bee, so be sure to purchase an enclosure ahead of time. Rocks and sticks make excellent drums

Who needs parties when you have small children? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The origin of the campus quad

So I spent this weekend down at Virginia Tech with my friend Katherine, and couldn't help notice the giant sinkhole-in-waiting in the middle of campus.
They call it the 'Drill Field'. Probably because if you drilled into the ground, water would come up in a geyser and turn the whole place into a swimming pool. 
All college campuses find it necessary to include a big giant green space in the middle of campus. Cornell has four such quads--Ag, Biotech, Arts, and Engineering, so a biomechanical engineer could have four separate patches of grass to call their own. Even MIT has a quad, and they've go so little space in the middle of Boston that the integral of its size is a negative number. What is the purpose of this mysterious green space? This week, I'll present several of the leading theories (that I made up myself)

Alien Landing Pads

If The History Channel is to be believed, half the world's governments are controlled by aliens from other planets (as opposed to the many governments which in reality are controlled by aliens from Earth). 

Meme guy!
Modern rocket planes, like the ones that take people on those really expensive space tourism things, need landing strips to go up and down. But advanced alien flying saucers just need a big field they can hover onto. In The Day the Earth Stood Still (not the version with Neo), the most impressive work of alien technology is the locator beam that managed to find an open field in the middle of Washington, D.C. (And no, the Mall doesn't count, because it's always crowded with squishy humans).

College campuses are supposed to be centers for research and discovery. And what bigger discovery could be made than the existence of extraterrestrial life? Campuses all over the world must be secretly competing for the honor of being the first landing spaces for UFOs. No wonder you see flying-saucer shaped dishes flying across campus quads all spring--it's meant to be a signal for the little green men to drop out of the sky and provide their Alma Maters with billion dollar donations. Students will someday study astronomy in Galzzaxceef Hall. (Alternatively, wouldn't this make a brilliant sci-fi comedy idea?)

Bored City Planners

According to my father, no one ever considered city planning a thing until the release of SimCity. Whether that's true or not, one thing's for sure--city planners are only human (ignoring the alien theory from above). Universities are supposed to be aesthetically pleasing

Bored city planners 
Campus president's pretentious poodle needed a toilet of its own
Squirrel conspiracy to hide acorns
A prophecy that ultimate frissbee would be a thing one day--The Ultimate Prophecy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Liz and Taylor present: The Economics of Harry Potter

One has to assume the wizarding population of Great Britain to be fairly small. JK Rowling only mentions 7 male wizards in Harry's class. Assuming equal proportions of males and females as well as equal proportions between houses, there should be approximately 14 wizards and witches in each house, so 56 total per year. With seven years at Hogwarts, there should be 392 students total at Hogwarts. Let's give JK Rowling the benefit of the doubt and, assuming Harry's class to be abnormally small, let's say there are 500 students total.

This poses an interesting question. What fraction of the general population is wizards? Using the UK life expectancy of about 77 years in 1997, the total number of wizards would be about 4,300. Using the 1997 population estimate for the UK as fifty million, less than a hundredth of a percent of the population are wizards. This would explain the relative ease of keeping their existence secret and would perhaps suggest that some of the many Ministry of Magic departments devoted to protecting secrecy are redundant.

So if the retirement age is around 65 and 17 is the age of entry into the workplace, the workforce contains about 2,700 workers, ignoring stay at home parents and Muggle born wizards' parents.

According to Quidditch Through the Ages, there are 12 professional Quidditch teams in the UK. Oliver Wood tells Harry in book four that he has been signed to Puddlemere United's reserve team. Puddlemere United is described as a second-tier team in Quidditch Through the Ages, so each team must surely have a reserve team. Each team must then have 14 players, so 168 of the wizards in the UK are playing Quidditch. If each team has only one manager, then 180 wizards are involved in professional Quidditch. This reduces the remaining size of the workforce to 2,520.

Subtracting the number of teachers at Hogwarts, (28 named, minus Dumbledore who is well over retirement age), we hit 2,492. There are 26 shops in Diagon Alley, and we low-ball our estimate of employees per shop at six. While some shops are mentioned as only having one employee, for example, Ollivander's, the Alley is also home to establishments like the Daily Prophet, which has many more. Only one shop from Knockturn Alley is included in this calculation (Borgin & Burkes) and no street peddlers are assumed, so an average of 6 employees is reasonable and likely low. This results in 156 people working at Diagon Alley, bringing the total number of wizards in the workforce down to 2,336. There are 20 shops mentioned in Hogsmeade as well. If we again assume 6 employees per shop, which again is likely low since many are service-intensive, then 120 wizards work in Hogsmeade, bringing the remaining total down to 2,216.

Now we get to the big guns: the Ministry of Magic. Mr. Weasley mentions a task force of five hundred who worked on casting protective spells for the Quidditch World Cup, so there must be at least five hundred workers. The office of the Minister for Magic and Support Staff contains about twenty-five employees (including the minister himself and undersecretaries), which sounds reasonable. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement has the Auror office (which contains eleven named members and probably consists of sixty total), and many more minor departments, one of which, the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, is specifically mentioned to contain only two workers. The Department of Intoxicating Substances probably has five (there's not a lot of drinking mentioned in the books) and the Improper Use of Magic Office probably has ten to fifteen. All in all, I estimate the whole department contains about two hundred employees, bringing us down to 1,975.

So since there's seven departments total, I subtract an additional 1,200, bringing the total down to 775. Factoring in the unemployment rate of 7 percent in the UK in 1997, that brings the total down to 585. Five musical bands are mentioned. The Weird Sisters consists of eight members, and we can assume the remaining bands contain at least four members. If each band has one manager, then 29 wizards are involved in music, bringing the remaining total to 556. At least one wizard-run radio station exists (the Wizarding Wireless Network), which must be run by a minimum of four people, reducing the remaining total to 552.

Healers who work for St. Mungo's must also be accounted for. Five floors are used for treatment, plus an upper floor with a tea room and gift shop. If five healers work on each floor plus two trainees, then 35 wizards are involved in treatment. At least four people must work in the tea room and gift shop as servers and cashiers (one for each job for the day shift and night shift), and at least two wizards must work as receptionists (again, one for each shift), then 41 people total must work at St. Mungo's at a minimum. This brings the remaining number of wizards down to 511.

So while we used minimum numbers in this estimate, we feel those numbers are justified because magic use cuts out a lot of menial tasks and reduces the need for employees. Therefore, we feel that the remaining five hundred cannot simply be unemployed. Instead, they must work in the surrounding Muggle communities. Because Hogwarts does not teach math, science, or any useful twenty-first century skill, and they cannot produce a reliable high school transcript, they probably work as unskilled labor. They are probably all Hufflepuffs. (We should note, however, that they can use magic to perform such unskilled labor, making their lives cushier than those of Muggles doing the same jobs.)

We have discovered dark secret of the Harry Potter wizarding world. Hogwarts does not prepare graduates for the real world, and instead teaches them the easy way out. But, really, wouldn't you be OK working in construction if you could also apparate?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Book Review: Kydona: From Ashes, by Thomas K. Krug III

After being pleasantly surprised by Kydona, I was more than happy to pick up the sequel, Kydona: From Ashes. My main complaint with the first book in this series was that it moved slowly and many of the mysteries introduced didn't get a good resolution. What I loved were the strong, complex characters. The sequel is the exact opposite--it moves quickly and it's full of action and intrigue. But the characters suffer, and one new character in particular made me want to throw up in the back of my mouth.
This chick. I can't stand this chick. 

The story begins as Prince Marcus and his friends in the Royal Watch enter the rebellious province of Kydona and march on the army gathered by tsaritsa Nadiya. The Watch is much better trained and equipped than the enemy, but they're vastly outnumbered. It's up to Marcus to use his intelligence and skill at arms to find ways to counteract them. As he proves himself, he rises through the ranks. But the Kydonians just keep coming, and soon Marcus is captured by the enemy. He resorts to extremes to escape, accumulating in a thrilling nighttime chase through a dark and foreign forest, as he tries to destroy his country's greatest weapon so that it won't fall into enemy hands.

This is the best part of the book. Krug's descriptions of combat are easy to visualize and haunting. The vast empty plains and the fear of his characters stick with you. Marcus, his best friend Vernon, and the overbearing but courageous Roberte de Auffay are all entertaining, realistic characters, though in many places the scene is stolen by Chaplain Stallings, a priest of the war god who quotes lines from scripture as he charges into battle, wearing a skull shaped helmet and wielding a giant mace. By the time they faced their inevitable defeat, I was on the edge of my seat and eager to see what comes next.

But when a captive Marcus is dragged back to the Kydonian court, all the life is sucked out of the book by the Kydonian leader Nadiya. She intrigued me when she was mentioned in the first book--a young woman thought dead for many years, who had returned to claim her crown and win her kingdom's independence. I thought she would make a good counterpart for Marcus, who's lead a relatively privileged life, to meet a royal woman who had to fight for everything she had.

Unfortunately, Nadiya turned out to be a huge disappointment. She's beautiful, hates violence, argues about the values of democracy (which felt so out of place in this alternate universe), and is so compassionate everyone who meets her thinks she's an angel. While her personal flaws are mentioned--like an over-fondness of alcohol--they never impact her in a negative manner. Despite being alone in the world from a very young age, she needs Marcus to protect her. Everyone goes out of their way to say how much they love her and anyone who doesn't love her is probably a villain. Marcus, even though he's a great warrior and leader, can also be very judgmental and rude.

The inevitable love affair between the two feels so forced. Marcus goes from an irresponsible playboy in the first book to a devoted husband on the turn of a dime. There's no development there. The scenes between him and Nadiya are so gushy they feel fake. Aside from a few misunderstandings at the beginning of their courtship, there's no tension between them at all, and real relationships aren't like that. I'm not saying that the author made Nadiya a Relationship Sue on purpose, but his attempts at giving her flaws are weak, especially since her two flaws (an overactive libido and a drinking problem) either benefit Marcus or don't negatively impact her in a major way (for example, she drunkenly cheats on him). Every other page, we're constantly reminded of how much they love each other.

At the start of the book, I thought I could read five more books easily set in this world. Krug writes great conflict, and this book is worth reading if only for the first part alone. But for a story to be truly believable, all aspects have to be up to par, and bungling the main romance story line is an excellent way to screw up your plot for good.

My rating? As epic fantasy, three and a half stars. As a novel, three.

You can find Kydona: From Ashes here. You can also find my book, Iceclaw, here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fun, Games at County-Mandated CPR Training

My favorite part about being employed is getting to walk through those mysterious little back doors you see in every place of business. What lies beyond those mysterious portals? Other than employee break rooms and old refrigerators? Nothing's so thrilling about a new job as is walking down the service stairs and entering a world known only to a select few.

If I didn't evaluate potential jobs by the presence of 'Employees Only' signs, I'd probably make a lot more money.

So this summer, I'm working as a camp counselor at Riverbend Park. There's a very nice employee break room and we also get to use the back entrance at the nature center. There's a whole room beneath the building stuffed with art supplies. But seeing as how we're working with children, it's only appropriate we all get CPR certified. Actually, it's the law.

This show discusses Game of Thrones more than I actually have at my job. This saddens me. 
When I arrive at the CPR seminar, held in the charmingly picturesque nature center, I find one of the county safety instructors freaking out at the sight of a charmingly picturesque spider, which is silly, because that spider isn't even on the 'Venomous Animals' page of our county-mandated safety guides. The other instructor  directs me to sign in, and I run through the old mental game of whether I should put down 'Liz' or 'Elizabeth'. Behind me, the fishing instructors are talking about the fish they caught that morning and the fish they want to catch when the seminar is over. I sit next to one of the park naturalists, who is probably the only person I've ever met who is actually named Rita. Since Italian ice is my favorite thing in the entire universe (besides Game of Thrones), I wind up salivating every time someone calls her name.

The instructors tell us to go over to the dummies they've set up to practice giving chest compressions. I make the obligatory joke about it being kinder to let the dummies slip away, since they're missing all their limbs and half their torsos. No one laughs. And that one always killed in TJ PE! But I kneel down besides my dummy anyway, on my county provided knee-pad. I assume those just magically appear whenever someone collapses with a stopped heart.

I pound on the dummy's chest so hard my sunglasses flop down onto my face and my ring cuts into my fingers. Nevertheless, the little LEDs in the dummy's chest flash red, which I assume is dummy for "I'm dying, you idiot!" The instructor has to correct my hand placement five times before it starts to flash green. I notice the dummies have skin tones from all different races, but all share the same dead face. The instructor keeps an extra face in her bag, the sight of which makes me want to scrub off my neurons with bleach.
Maybe she could lend it to him?
Then we get to practice breathing through a rescue mask, another handy piece of equipment I will totally remember how to use during an emergency. Afterwards, we get to rub off the dummies's dead faces with rubbing alcohol, because we haven't suffered enough. The instructor points out that we shouldn't give mouth-to-mouth to anyone who's vomiting. I totally agree.

Then we move on to the AEDs, the cool little machines where you have to say "Clear!" and then make sure everyone is actually clear before you press the shock button. The instructor shows us how to stick the pads on someone's chest. I note that every demonstration figure is male and wince while asking what to do if the patient is an extremely large breasted woman.

"It's not always going to be a large breasted woman," the instructor points out, and then gives us a nice explanation about lifting up rolls of fat that, you know, I really didn't need to hear.

My notes at this point say "Don't use AEDs on mules gnats or if he's in a band." It's eleven, I'm tired, and I'm still freaking out over the Game of Thrones season finale. Let's see what other gems come from me not being able to understand my own handwriting: "Spook the snake watches . . ." Oh, wait, there's a snake in that building named Spook who was watching us as we practiced giving the Heimlich to baby dolls. Apparently, you can roll the baby from one hand to the other by firmly gripping its head. It's a very professional and terrible thing to do.

The instructor finishes the workshop by grabbing the baby dolls by the legs and throwing them into bags. I suppose it's a mark of my preparedness as a camp counselor that I didn't even flinch.