Friday, January 29, 2010

Midterm Madness

"I plan to sleep in three mornings this week", Master Ian announced. It was midterm week in Marcellus, and as far as Ian was concerned, all he had to do was to show up on two days, check his brain in for a couple of hours and then go back to whatever recreation was available in the dead of winter around town. The Halls barely saw him at all this week, except for Thursday, when he had an early appointment with a physics exam.
So the last thing he wanted to hear was that he had to take another test. Sgt. Phillips had been working overtime to see if he could move up Ian's ship date so it was closer to his graduation date, and to that end, he had uncovered that there might be extra openings in Ian's second choice of MOS, the intelligence field. (Much to his delight and Mrs. Hall's chagrin, his first choice was to drive tanks.) There might not be an opening for that when Ian comes in, so his sargeant was trying to cover all his bases; he called Ian Thursday evening and told him to report to the recruiting center at 7:00 am for the DLAB tests.
A cursory glance at Google that night made Ian suddenly realize that taking the DLAB with only 12 hours prep was not going to be a stroll in the park. Apparently only 35% of the applicants who take the test pass with sufficient points to continue.

"The DLAB consists of 126 multiple choice questions. For admission to a Basic Language Program, the following minimum DLAB scores are required:
· 85 for a Category I language (Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish)
· 90 for a Category II language (German)
· 95 for a Category III language (Belorussian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Polish, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Slovak, Tagalog [Filipino], Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese)
· 100 for a Category IV language (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean)
Individual services or agencies may demand higher qualifying scores, at their discretion. For example, the Air Force and Marine Corps require a minimum score of 100 on the DLAB for all languages, although the Marine Corps will waiver it to a 90 for Cat I and II languages. The Air Force is not currently approving waivers."

Bitter cold greeted them Friday morning as they dropped Ian off at the office. A couple of hours later, while Mrs. H. was working out on the treadmill, he called. "I'm ready- come pick me up." They were all on pins and needles until he finally slid into the big black car. "Well? Well?" piped Mrs. H. while Mr. Hall smiled and looked at Ian. "I'm so happy- I got 110 on the test. I really wanted to qualify for Cat IV!" Mrs. Hall sighed and slid back into the seat. Another hurdle down- and for Ian, just another test behind him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

That must be why it's called Snigill póstur

In the spirit of herring tosses and marinated gill pancakes, Gail Perry, noted authoress and past guest at Penguin Hall, has resurrected that fine old Icelandic tradition of hátíð doldrums vetur, also known as "The waking of St. Slugabed". The cherished ritual of seasonal greetings and reciprocating letters of family roundups, (sometimes accompanied by a tin of sluge ógeðslegur, a piquant mixture of seal fat, spices and nuts!) was brought home again by Gail, whose journey to Iceland brought new appreciation for this charming past time.
To be sure, the true historical date of this island revelry and gala, while somewhat muddled, is placed by researchers to be somewhat later in the calendar, nearly just ahead of our festival of winter desperation known as Groundhog's Day; but Gail, ever the soul of dedication and avid preparation, jumped the gun just a bit.
Kudos to Gail for bringing to life a ceremony long lost to so many.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Campus capers part the second

Mistress Colleen was mostly a blur Sunday morning. While Mrs. Hall made a couple of stacks of Belgium waffles for Ian and his friend Travis, who had spent the night, Colleen was running up and down the stairs, loading her car and the family flivver with brand-new bright spring green and cerulean blue bedroom accessories. “Com’n Mom- we have to go!” she pleaded. “It’s going to be jammed over there if we wait any longer.”
Her prediction was accurate. Cars were already lining up along the pathway by the front of the dorms. It looked like base camp at Mt. Everest; countless student Sherpas were hauling bagload after bagload up to the doors and to their various rooms. Packing everything onto a nearby trolley, Colleen dragged the unwieldy cart into the elevator. “It’s on the third floor!” she chirped happily and Mr. Hall just shook his head- I’ve never helped to move anyone to a ground floor, he sighed. It’s always up a couple of flights.
Colleen retrieved the keys from the RAs and was so eager to get to her room, she dropped them opening the door. But once inside, she was thrilled. The dorms at OCC had only been built three years ago, so the fixtures and hallways all still looked fairly new and fresh. Finding her suite, she glanced about at her roommates accessories. Bright spring green and cerulean blue blankets and towels were laid out neatly on her bed. She looked out the window at the hoards spilling out of their cars, and spotted little blobs of spring green and cerulean all over the parking lot. “Apparently, these are the colors of the year,” she said. “Oh, well- at least we’ll all match!” and promptly started to unload her things.
When the work was all done, Colleen and Mrs. Hall surveyed the kitchen area. The countertops were bright and clean. “Let’s celebrate with the quintessential dorm room food,” said Colleen, and she ran into her room to get a box out of her stash. She came out with a package of strawberry frosted Poptarts©. “To your new digs” toasted Mrs. H. and they tapped poptarts and started eating. “Mmmmm,” she said. “Tastes like freedom.” Mr. H. sat on the couch in the living area and watched the University of Michigan/ Ferris State game. “Good reception up here,” he grunted.
Then it was time to go. After the warm hugs and usual litany of maternal warnings, the Halls crawled back into the van and headed off. “We’ll see her by next week- for something- I guarantee,” said Mr. H.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Campus Capers

Plenty of activity can be noticed around the Hall lately. Mistress Colleen, in an attempt to clean out her room and pack for her move, has been churning up clouds of dust upstairs. This Sunday, she spreads her wings and heads over to the campus of Onondaga Community College, to a new dorm and some fresh bunkmates.
While Mrs. Hall is loathe to contemplate the prospect of the little penguins leaving the nest, she realizes that this is just one in a series of small steps for them, and so, they just have to make the best of it. Taking Wednesday off and making it a girl’s day out, Mrs. H. and Colleen headed towards the shops in search of the perfect dorm room apparel. A few hours (and several $$$ later) they were happily ensconced at the Panera Bread Co. chatting away over their purchases and some sandwiches and plotting the future.

The Monitor will bring further updates as this story unfolds; stay tuned!

Field Promotion

Due to calling up of some of his fellow DEPs (the name for the pool of recruits waiting in the Delayed Entrance Program), Ian has been named Squad Leader of his group. Sgt. Phillips pulled Ian aside last weekend and told him he was placing him in charge of the group and that he would report directly to him and the district leader. There are about 10 young men in the pool, known as “Poolies” and Ian is responsible for maintaining the flow of information to and from them.
Sgt. Phillips has had nothing but praise for young Master Ian since he joined the program. Ian’s enthusiasm for the Corps has been infectious and his pride and patriotism has inspired a new batch of young men to join Ian on his weekly trips to work out as well. It is not uncommon on Wednesdays around the Hall to find several new faces, waiting to fill up the family conestoga and ride off with Ian to be pummelled, punished and generally pushed to their physical limits once a week with the Marines in the area.
Recognized as a team player for some time now, it was only natural that Ian would assume the leadership role with his group. Kudos to Ian; the Monitor will be watching your progress with great anticipation!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

These are the auld lang syne....

The Halls had already taken Master Chris back to the airport and seen him off. Another round of Christmas cookies had been placed out on the trays for general consumption and the sparkling beverages (some hard, some not) were chilling comfortably in the old Frigidaire.
It had been a busy week at the office for the Halls, and they were looking forward to spending down the last little bit of their account at the club on New Year's Eve. Hunkered down and shivering as she got into the big black car, Mrs. H. kept reminding herself that within minutes, they would be sunning themselves at the heat lamps over the carving stations. Of course, nothing was as warm and friendly as the welcome from Al, the bartender. A few seconds later, all the worries of the past year melted into a fuzzy whiskey mist. It can be reliably reported here that Mrs. Hall is notorious for letting herself go alittle at the seafood buffet, and this year she remained true to form. Mr. Hall, not to be outdone, did himself proud in the meat and potatoes department. It was a full house; the inhospitable weather outside made the merry band that much brighter inside and the strains of the jazz stylings of "Pinky" on the keyboard enlivened the evening beautifully. But it was early, and the night was still young...
As Mr. Hall slid the big black car into the hanger, Mrs. H. said, "I feel like a pajama party!" Slipping into their most comfortable sleep togs, the Halls poured out the bubbly and started calling their friends. Colleen, who arrived home in time for the fun, had purchased party crackers for everyone and helped Mrs. H. dredge up some poppers and noisemakers. (If there is one thing that is always kept on hand in the pantry, it's the necessary accoutrements for a spur of the moment party.) Later on that evening, after the ball had dropped and the whooping and laughter had finally subsided, the animal members of the Hall (when they were finally able to peer out from all the confetti) were left to ponder what strange behaviors these humans exhibit, on this one night of the year.

Tell your friends!