Lady Luck, that evil wench!

Do you believe in luck? That all good and bad things that happen to us by chance, happen beyond our control? I remember when I was little, my dad would take us to this Christmas party with his square dancing groups. At the party, they would always do a raffle.

I used to get a raffle ticket, always making sure to say, "Give me the winning ticket, please!" to the person selling them. Almost every time, I would win. Granted, they were small prizes, but they were prizes nonetheless.

On a few separate occassions, I was also picked out of a crowd of hundreds of people to participate in different on-stage events. For example:

  • Age 8: I went to see the killer whale show at Marine World. During the audience participation segment, the presenter chose me to come down and get kissed on the cheek and splashed by a whale.
  • Age 11: I was chosen as a contestant for a Nickelodeon children's gameshow at Great America Amusement Park. It combined two of my favorite things at the time: answering trivia questions and getting a cream pie thrown in my face!
  • Age 16: I was chosen to participate in one of the bits for an improv comedy show at Comedy Sportz. I had to make sound effect noises for the actors to riff off of on-stage.

It's not like I've ever won the lottery or anything, but I'd like to think that luck has always been on my side.

Academic Luck

Another form of luck that seems to follow me is academic luck. Throughout my years of school, luck has followed me when I needed it most.

There were a few instances when, for some reason or another, I completely forgot to do a homework assignment.

However, when I would go into class on those days that the assignments were due, by some good fortune the teacher would either be ill, they would have decided to change the due date, or they would have completely forgotten to ask us to hand it in.

And in classes that had consequences for tardiness, the teacher would end up showing up later than I did, or else not at all.

This little instances have followed me throughout my academic career, from kindergarten until even my Masters course now.

When Lady Luck Betrays You Sadly, the past few days for me have been filled with a series of unfortunate events:

  1. Snow Slow-Down: When I arrived back to London from San Francisco, I took the tube to get to my house. The closest station is normally about a ten minute walk. Being Californian, I didn't take snow into account. My walk ended up taking over half an hour, and a 67-pound suitcase doesn't exactly roll through inches of snow.
  2. Locked Out: I felt a sense of accomplishment upon arriving, out of breath, to my front door. I was ready to put my bags down, and knock out. I put my key in the door, and heard the satisfying click! of it becoming unlocked. I pushed on the door, but it wouldn't open. Turns out, the bottom lock had been locked. And I didn't have the key. I ended up having to wait a few hours for one of my housemates, who had been staying at his family's house in South London, to bring me the key. (Thanks, Ardo!)
  3. No Running Water: When I finally did get into the house, I discovered that a plumbing problem had not been resolved. So we had no running water for about a day and a half.
  4. The Laptop Incident: My laptop had started making a really loud grinding noise. It had done it a couple of times before, but never that badly. It sounded like little gremlins were gnawing away at the hardware inside. Last time, everything was fine after I turned off my computer and restarted it. This time, it wasn't enough. My laptop is now completely dead, and it took some of my important files with it.

Maybe Lady Luck felt like I was getting too greedy. Or maybe it's because my 'lucky year', the Chinese Year of the Tiger doesn't officially start until February 14th.

Maybe I should pull a Harry Potter and take a dosage of Felix Felicis.

Or maybe I should just forget about luck, and focus on getting my Issues in Journalism paper completed... ;)

Snow Showers

Sometimes, the best remedy for a serious bout of jet lag can be something as simple as a long, hot shower. The kind of shower that steams up the entire bathroom, and melts away the stress from a transatlantic journey. That's exactly what I needed after traveling from San Francisco back to London. Especially after lugging my 67 pound suitcase, plus backpack, about half a mile from the tube station to my house---through the snow.

Unfortunately, our house was having a problem with some of the plumbing. One of the pipes on the outside wasn't attached properly. If we turned the water mains back on, water would come flooding out of it.

The person who was supposed to fix it that day didn't show up. Great.

So what do you do when you're in desperate need of a shower, and there's no running water? Yes, my friends, you take a snow shower!

Showering With Snow: Amanda's Handy Tips

As the great Scottish mountaineer J.H.B. Bell once said:

"Whoever indulges in a snow bath on a mountain crest will continue his progress along the ridges with renewed zest and vigour"

Inspired by my trip to Nicaragua last summer, in which we took bucket showers (the village of Goyena has no running water), I decided to apply this technique to snow.

The following are my handy tips for those of you crazy desperate enough to want to try this:

Step 1: Gather Snow We had plenty of clean snow in our backyard, so I gathered up as much clean snow as I could into every available pot.

Step 2: Melt Snow Using every burner on our stovetop, I melted down the snow. As it starts to melt, you can add more snow to maximize the amount of hot water you'll get in each pot.

Step 3: Make Snow Transportation-Friendly Rather than taking each small pot back and forth, up and down the stairs to the bathroom, it's better to pour the hot water into a larger container and take that up.

In this case, my large container was a big, unused plastic bucket. I poured all of the hot water into it, and carried that up to the bathtub.

Step 4: Gather Bathing Supplies To actually clean yourself, you'll need a small hand towel (or a loofah), soap/shampoo of your choice, and another small container for rinsing your hair.

I used a mug, but if you're feeling cannibalistic, why not try a ladle?

Step 5: Wash, Rinse, Repeat Now that you have all of your supplies gathered in the bathtub, you're ready for a snow shower!

Use the mug to pour hot water all over yourself, making sure to get your hair as wet as possible.

Then, dip the small towel or loofah into the bucket, and pour soap on it. After you're all nice and soaped up, dip the mug into the bucket and rinse yourself off.

Now it's time for washing your hair. No matter what length your hair is, it's best to just dunk your whole head in the bucket. Once it's soaking wet, you can shampoo away!

Use the mug to rinse out most of the shampoo from your hair. If you're feeling particularly indulgent, you can use conditioner at this point.

Finally, the best part of all, you can now take the whole bucket and pour the remaining hot water all over yourself.

Congratulations! You've now taken your first snow shower!

Now go forth and enjoy your renewed zest and vigour!