Friday, May 28, 1999

We had a special meeting of the Meade Hall last night to wrap up a plot that Karen had introduced. Unfortunately, I think we were trying to do too much at once, and everyone was still going strong when I rather adamantly left around 11PM. (Because we only have one internet-connected computer at home, Matt and I come in to the office to get on the Hall. It wouldn't be a big deal if it didn't mean an extra twenty minutes or so between quitting mIRC and going to bed.) If I'd known that Ashby didn't really know how he was going to close off his thread, and that Jeff was expecting his bit to take close to an hour, I'd have suggested that we split the plot into two pieces.

Well, those of you who know what I'm talking about can probably guess how it should have been split. I probably lost the rest of you right at the beginning.

Matt is still suffering from a cold, though I think he's past the laryngitis, thank heavens. He was worried last night about his coughing keeping me awake. I laughed. Once I get to sleep, it takes quite a bit to wake me up - a mere cough wouldn't do it. (The honk of a nose being blown might, though. I've never met anyone who blows their nose so loudly!) ::grin::

We missed our showers this morning. After I fed the cat, Matt wanted to cuddle, and I'm never one to turn that down - not to mention that since I'd had only six hours of sleep, getting back into bed was definitely more appealing than getting into the shower. I'll probably regret it later today when my hair starts feeling nasty, but for right now, I'm pretty happy.

We stopped by the house yesterday and they still haven't done any work on it. But Nancy's car was there, so we decided to hang out and wait for her so we could talk to her. (Nancy is our realtor. I've been leaving her voice mail messages every other day for a week, now, but she hasn't called back.) While we were waiting, we saw a list of upcoming closings, and ours is the only house scheduled to close in August. It made me feel better that all the houses that were started after ours but are now much further ahead are supposed to be done by July - at least they have an excuse for putting those ahead of ours! And since we're the only house closing in August, I'm hoping the interior crews (they should be down to the interior work by then) will be able to concentrate on just our house. So that made me feel a little better.

Then, while we were waiting, we wound up talking to Donald, who is the builder's supervisor, and the guy that we would have wound up sending Nancy to anyway. He told us that he'd been planning on having the lumber delivered to our site next Tuesday, and that the framing crew would start framing on Wednesday. (Which means we'll need to go over there every day next week starting on Wednesday until we're sure they made the changes to the blueprints that we asked for.) But getting a definite date out of them really made me feel much better.

I still want to call our apartment complex and find out if there's even a slim chance that they'll be willing to be flexible about our lease. I'd at least like to only have to give them one month's notice instead of the two they usually demand. Or let us extend our lease by only one month instead of their usual minimum of two. I don't have a lot of hope, but maybe if I explain that the house is being built... We've been fairly good customers for the complex for the past three and a half years - only one late rent payment in all that time - so I hope they'll be reasonable. But I'm not counting on it.

Another boring Friday. I told both my task lead and my supervisor that I had finished my project, and so far they haven't given me anything new to work on. So it'll be another day of not much of anything for me... Oh, well. Friday before a long weekend, I'm not too crushed. (At least I remembered my book this time!)

Thursday, May 27, 1999

I have the weirdest damn habit when I'm reading journals. For no apparent reason whatsoever, I always back up to a site's main page before moving on to the next journal. That is, I'll select a journal out of my bookmarks, then click on the link that takes me to the latest entry and read it. When I'm done reading, you'd think that I would just select the next journal in my list of bookmarks, but I don't - I have to hit the Back button until I'm at the mail page before selecting another site. Every time I catch myself doing it, I think the same thing: I should write about this in my journal. I'm such a mutant. Now you know.

This morning in the shower I was thinking about socialized medicine. (If I get too many more journal topics from my morning shower thoughts I'm going to change the name of this journal to All Wet.)

The thought was pretty basic, actually, but I guess I'll give you the setup. A few years ago, people started talking about how great it would be if the U.S. had a government-subsidized health program like Canada's, because it would be cheaper and poor people wouldn't have to worry about being able to afford it, etc. Then I started hearing about how much Canadians hated their health program, because it was so time-consuming to actually see a doctor - they apparently have to spend a much longer time waiting. I could identify with this: college health centers are essentially socialized medicine, and I never waited for less than an hour and a half.

So here's the thought I had this morning: The difference between the systems is, in essence, their deterrent. In the U.S. people avoid going to the doctor because it's so expensive. In Canada people avoid going to the doctor because it takes so long. Okay, that's a generalization and an oversimplification, but it still seems to me to be not far from the truth. But maybe it's just me. I never claimed to have good thoughts when I was in the shower.

This weekend will be a long weekend. This is good, because I'm really ready for a break. The Star Wars party last weekend was a lot of fun, but I lost a lot of sleep. I think I'm pretty well caught up now, but it'll be nice. I'm also hoping I'll get another project at work soon. I'm tired of doing layers on layers on layers - especially when I don't really understand that bottom layer but my task lead seems to assume that I do. ::sigh::

I downloaded a typing tutor program yesterday, out of nothing but simple curiosity - office mates are always walking by when I'm writing e-mail and telling me they've never heard anyone typing as fast as I do. According to the program, I type about 80 words per minute if what I'm typing are reasonable sentences. If it's just random words, I slow down a bit, and if it's random letters, I slow down even more. I'm pretty sure this has to do with my thinking process rather than my typing ability. But the typing program is pretty cool, so I may keep it and play with it and see if it improves my speed.

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

I joined the Diary-L mailing list yesterday. I knew it would be a fairly busy list, but I had over fifty messages when I logged in this morning! Yike!

Quite a bit of the action on the list right now is devoted to an argument. To be fair, there's astonishingly little flaming going on, though everyone seems to be reading the letter rather than the spirit of everyone else's posts. They all seem to agree, actually, and they're arguing over semantics. (For those of you not on the list who are curious, the major point seems to be that someone who deserves your respect after they're dead probably deserved your respect during their life as well, and that the only additional respect that being dead should get them is out of sympathy for the loved ones left behind.)

The first time I encountered the death of a human (as opposed to the death of bugs and various non-cuddly pets such as goldfish and hermit crabs) was when I was nine. A boy in my class at school had been attacked, choked into unconsciousness, and abandoned face-down in a ditch. His name was Paul, though I don't remember his last name. I felt terrible when it finally sank in, not because he had died, but because I hadn't liked him at all, and my first thought when the principal told us he was dead was, "Oh, good." Guilt dogged me for a long time, until I finally came to the conclusion years later that it was the sort of thing that someone might think before the enormity of the situation closed in, and let it go.

When I was in the sixth grade, my maternal grandmother died. Grandma Waters had been very sick for a very long time - she had had terribly disfiguring arthritis for as long as I'd known her, and every time we went to visit, she seemed a little weaker. I remember two things about her death. The first is that my dad took John and I to visit her in the hospital one weekend when we were pretty sure the end was near. I had been taking a class in calligraphy, and wanted to take a sample of my work to show her, and Dad told me that I should leave it behind. I don't remember what the reason was, but I got the impression that it was frivolous and vain of me to show off when she was so sick. What I remember about that incident most vividly is him admitting later that he should have let me bring it - that Grandma would have enjoyed it. The other thing I remember is wondering if something was wrong with me, because I never once cried. I was sad, and I was sorry I'd never see her again, but I couldn't cry after we saw her in the hospital, and I couldn't cry when Mom called a few days later to tell us that she had died, and I couldn't cry at the funeral. I suppose everyone around me assumed that I was too young to really understand what was going on, and maybe that's it. But everyone around me was crying or sniffling or at least had red eyes, and even though I tried, I couldn't.

What I remember about her life is a backscratcher, which she had to use to scratch the top of her head, and green-apple candies, which she liked to eat and would share with my brother and I. (I remember more, but those two memories are the essence of my grandmother to me.)

My Grandad Waters died when I was a sophomore in college. His decline had been slow and ugly. When we went to see him in the hospital, I remember him getting angry at the nurse because she wouldn't take the respirator tube out of his throat so he could say goodbye. When I understood that this really was the last time, I got angry, too. The respirator was only going to keep him alive a few more days, and everyone in the room knew it. I remember being furious that they wouldn't allow him to pass with dignity, or to tell his children and grandchildren that he loved them. I remember there being a bit of a scandal at the funeral home because his girlfriend insisted on being part of the receiving line. (I remember wishing that he'd given her a ring, at least, so that we'd know where she stood in his life.) I remember that I cried when his brother spoke a private eulogy at the memorial dinner before the funeral, but couldn't summon up any tears at the funeral itself. I remember thinking about how terribly proud he was that I was in college and planning on majoring in math, and promising myself that I would offer a toast to him when I graduated.

What I remember most about his life is that while I was in college, he would send me newspaper clippings and cash. I must have once mentioned the money to my mother, and she must have fussed at him about it, because I remember most vividly a fifty-dollar bill stapled to a newspaper clipping on which he had written "Don't tell your mother." (He only wrote infrequently. Mostly it was just clippings and cash.) It's a silly memory, but I kept the secret. Years later, I told Dad about it. And I remember how proud he was of me. He had never gone to college, and I think he was tickled pink that a descendant of his would not only go to college (my mother has a Master's degree, so that wasn't new) but major in something that he perceived as terribly difficult.

Anyway, since reading that thread on Diary-L, I've been thinking about them. There you go.

Tuesday, May 25, 1999

Well, I got a nap yesterday after work, so I'm feeling slightly more awake today. But not any better about having to be at work. Bleah. I think I need a new project. This one is too big - it's gotten mired down into too many layers and levels of complexity.

Matt seems to have come down with a case of laryngitis. I guess Mike's protest that he'd lost his voice because of allergies wasn't entirely true.

Bleah. Jeremy just told me that Del (my supervisor) won't be in the office for most of the rest of the week, so I can't ask him for a new project just yet. Damn. Now I have to find something to do for the rest of the day. I hate being bored at work. Maybe I'll go back to teaching myself Perl. Regular expressions are a big pain in the butt, so they ought to keep me occupied for a while.

I just don't have much to say today, I guess. I spent yesterday somewhere between sleeping and spacing, so nothing really happened worth mentioning, and I'm still a little too tired to try to be deep or philosophical.

Sorry, gang. My brain seems to have run out of juice this morning. I'll try to be better tomorrow.

Monday, May 24, 1999

Wow, what a great weekend! Friday was the Star Wars party, and that was an absolute blast! Saturday we went over to K.T.'s and gamed, which was a lot of fun if only because Jeff was there having raptures over getting real social interaction. Sunday wasn't as exciting, but it was relatively relaxing, and that was nice. I finished making all the squares and rectangles for my afghan, and then spent about an hour or so deciding the best way to piece them together. That'll take a week or more, but I'm feeling very proud of myself for doing something that big!

I didn't get enough sleep, of course. We were up until well after midnight both Friday and Saturday, and for whatever reason, I don't sleep very well when we have guests sleeping on our couch. (Possibly I'm worried about the cat waking them up, but I'm not sure that's the real reason. Whatever.) So both Saturday and Sunday morning, I woke up around 8:30 or so. I was going to take a nap Sunday afternoon, but some of our laundry hadn't dried completely and it was spread out on the bed to dry and I couldn't think of anywhere else to put it. So I'm a little groggy this morning.

So, I'm sure you're dying to know what I thought of Phantom Menace. I promise, I won't have any spoilers here - I won't even reveal major plot elements, because I know a lot of people who didn't even want to know the characters' names until they saw the movie.

The short version is: It was fantastic, and I want to see it again so I can find all the little details that I missed!

Now. If you haven't seen the original trilogy - in fact, if you haven't seen the original trilogy at least twice - you're missing a lot of Phantom Menace. If you are over the age of about eight and haven't seen the original trilogy, then I strongly suggest renting it before you go to see Menace, because otherwise it won't be a very good movie. (Maybe that's why all the reviewers are dissing it.)

Menace doesn't stand on its own, and obviously was never meant to. This is a prequel, and you are expected to know the fate of a large number of the characters, and that knowledge will color everything they say or do. Additionally, Menace had the feel of an introductory chapter in a novel - its main purpose was to introduce you to all of the characters and to give you some idea of their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. It wasn't a perfect movie by any means. If you are familiar with the original trilogy, then some of the subtleties of Menace were simply not very subtle, and for those who are not familiar with the original trilogy, a great many references and twists are probably confusing. At least one concept was introduced that I didn't like and am going to simply ignore in the next two movies. And despite all the effort put into it, I wasn't especially surprised by any of the plot twists.

I enjoyed it immensely, though. The computer animations are getting better and better - there were even times when the CG aliens looked real. It had one of the sleekest, sexiest starships I've seen in a long time. I liked all of the characters, even the ones that everyone else is going to insist are Ewok-substitutes and therefore hate. Even though the outcome of each individual situation was pretty easy to guess, I enjoyed watching them reach those outcomes.

Oh, and one teeny spoiler, because I sortof wish someone had told me this beforehand: That terribly evil-looking Darth Maul that you've been seeing all over the place, with the red and black face paint? He's actually a sort of minor character. He only speaks about two lines, and has no personality development whatsoever. I'm spoiling this for you now, because I was terribly disappointed in him when the movie was over, and I was irritated that the media had made him into the primary bad guy when he's not.

All in all - thumbs up!

Now, if you've already seen the movie, or you don't care about spoilers, you can check out this discussion of the movie.

Friday, May 21, 1999

Wow, my computer is running slow today. There's a lag between my typing and when letters show up on the screen. It's like working in Unix.

I'm getting pretty psyched about The Phantom Menace! As we speak, K.T. and Kevin and Greg are taking turns standing in line, Jeff is on his way up from South Carolina, and Jeremy is playing the Star Wars soundtrack in our office. And any day I leave work early is good, just on principle! After we leave, we'll run a few errands, then go home and wait for Jeff to arrive, and then we'll head to Greg's house to watch the original trilogy until it's time for the show! Whee!!!

Matt and I stopped by the comic store last night to pick up the week's comics (we usually go on Saturdays, but this weekend promises to be busy, and we were at the shopping center getting Chinese food anyway) and Mark, the store's owner, told us how to create the name that will let you fit right in to The Phantom Menace, and I'm gonna share it with you.

Take the first three letters of your name, then add the first three letters of the make (not model) of the car you drive. The name of the last prescription you filled is the planet you're from.

I am: Eli'che from Ultravate! Works pretty good, eh? (I threw in the apostrophe for old times' sake.) Matt couldn't remember what the last prescription he'd filled was, so he doesn't have a home world. His Star Wars name is Mat Dod, which isn't bad either. Let's see how many of my friends I can get. (Obviously, I either don't peek in their medicine cabinets or at least I'm not about to admit to it, so they'll all have to remain planetless.)

Jeremy: Drives a Honda Accord, so his name is Jer Hon. Jerhon? I'll let him pick.

Jeremy's girlfriend, Elizabeth, drives a Ford Thunderbird. Eli For.

K.T.: Let's see. We'll have to expand out from the initials to Kellylyn. She drives a Ford Escort. Kel For. Kelfor? Kel'for? Nah, I like Kel For better.

K.T.'s husband, Kevin: They only have the one car, so he'll be Kev For. Not bad.

Greg, who is the host for the Star Wars party, drives a Buick. Grebui. I think that needs some punctuation, don't you? Gre'bui. I kindof like that one.

Jeff is coming up from South Carolina in an Escort, so he is Jef For.

My dad (Chet) drives a Dodge Ram. Che'dod.

My mom (Alma) has a Ford Taurus: Almfor. That one might need some punctuation as well.

I was going to write about something else, but I can't remember what. I'm obsessed. ::grin:: Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 1999

Okay, here we go. I'm going to do my Star Wars rant, and there's nothing any of you can do to stop me! ::insert maniacal laughter::

I don't remember how old I was when I saw Star Wars, which means I was about four or five, because that's where my memories begin. I do remember playing with Star Wars toys. My dad is a huge fan of space opera shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Buck Rogers, so it was certain that he'd like the Star Wars saga. And since it was the perfect movie for kids, he fulfilled his own desires for the toys by buying them for my brother and I. For years, I can remember creeping down the stairs on Christmas mornings to find beautiful Star Wars dioramas under the tree. (It wasn't until after Jedi that I ever saw a Star Wars toy in its original packaging outside of a store.) Mom would grouse at us about all the time spent putting the ships and whatnot together, but with the eyes of an adult, I just know that my Dad had a blast.

I grew up playing Star Wars. My best friend Jeff was Luke (because he had blond hair), my brother was usually Han Solo (because he had dark hair) and I was Leia (because I was a girl). That was the core of the show, right there. My dad occasionally joined in as the terrible and frightening Darth Tickle, who would torture his prisoners mercilessly. Our bicycles were our fighter ships, and the bed of Dad's pickup truck was, alternately, the Millennium Falcon or the Death Star. (Dad's truck had a ladder rack, which we climbed on like monkeys. I am astonished that they let us get away with that, actually, and even more astonished that we never had an injury more serious than a few bruises or scrapes.) Some of the best afternoons of my life were prefaced by my Dad looking out the front window and telling me, "Here comes Luke Skycrawler on his X-wing two-wheeler!" We didn't stick to the movie-defined plot - that would have been boring. I could tell you some of the adventures we had (like the time all three of us were killed by the invisible stormtroopers in my bedroom) but it would be pretty pointless. If you had a childhood like mine, then you had most of those same adventures. If you didn't, well... I'm sorry.

I didn't much care for Empire, and it's still my least favorite of the three movies. It's dark, and grim, and ends on an uncertain note. The reason I like the Star Wars movies is because they represent hope, and there's precious little of it in Empire. I stopped collecting the toys shortly after Jedi. I'm pretty sure I had an Ewok or two (I'll confess right here and now, I thought the Ewoks were cute as hell, and I loved them!) but it was my brother and not me who got the elaborate Ewok Village, and it didn't really bother me. We managed to tape Star Wars off some cable channel once, and that tape (a Beta! Anyone who remembers the Beta - vs - VHS war, raise your hands!) was watched endlessly through my high school years.

When I got to college, I fell into a group of friends who had many of the same loves. The Star Wars saga was equally precious and culturally defining for them as it was for me. What fun!

Now, finally, years and years and years later, they're starting up again. And I've been hearing crap. A lot of it. People are worried that they're not going to like this movie, and that it won't live up to the saga. Okay, let's take a long deep breath and think about this for a while. The Star Wars saga was pure magic when we were kids, and that's why we love it. Just once, put it in your VCR and watch it and try very hard to forget that you were once a kid who held your breath in fear whenever you heard the rasping of Darth Vader's respirator. Try to watch it as if you were seeing it for the first time.

It's crap.

The acting is pretty awful, the dialog is absurd, and the plot holes are so huge you could ride a Bantha through them. What the hell is this garbage I've been seeing lately about Luke being Campbell's archetypal hero? Who the fuck is Campbell? And I've heard from at least four different people that the Star Wars trilogy embodies some impressive Greek mythology. Excuse me??? Will someone please tell me what myth they think is being acted out here so I can laugh in their faces?

Sure, Lucas pulled from mythologies! He's doing the same thing with Phantom Menace - I heard a story that a lot of research was done on devils and demons in a lot of different cultures in an effort to make Darth Maul as hideously evil-looking as possible. But Star Wars was just a story. It wasn't an attempt at a larger or deeper message! Those of us who loved it, loved it because it was so wonderfully black-and-white. The good guys were good. The bad guys were bad. No one was grey. No one. Characters changed sides, and some changed frequently - but they were always on one side or the other. No middle ground or moral ambiguity.

You know what I think about all of this archetypal hero mythology mumbo-jumbo? I think some people adored the movies, but knew deep down that their love was elemental. Kid stuff. And they wanted an excuse to keep watching when they grew up, so they made up this bullshit that makes them seem deeper than they really are. And other people decided that having an intellectual reason to like something was even better than just liking it because it brought back great childhood memories and was fun, so they jumped on the bandwagon. My opinion of these analyses can be summed up in one word: pretentious.

As for the reviewers and critics? Well, their job is to judge each movie on its own merits, and I won't begrudge them the probability that this movie won't stand on its own. But no one is going to see this movie who doesn't already know the ultimate outcome. It doesn't have to stand on its own merits. Part of the beauty of this movie will be that we know that this adorable child is going to grow up to be a terribly evil man. That knowledge is going to color every action, every word, every gesture that the child makes. We're going to be waiting, trying to find the moment when it becomes inevitable that Anakin will turn to the Dark Side. Maybe that moment isn't in this movie. It may well be in the second or third movies, that haven't been made yet. But we'll be waiting, and watching. So the reviewers don't like the movie. Who cares? They hate all science adventure movies. Forget about them!

So tomorrow afternoon, Matt and I are going to go to our friend Greg's house, and we'll watch marathon sessions of the Star Wars saga, and then we'll be all keyed up and excited when we walk the few blocks to the theater. The group of us will be chattering incessantly, excited and almost nervous as we sit in the theater waiting for the lights to dim. We'll cheer loudly when it starts, and then we'll lose ourselves. We'll turn over control to our inner children, who know that in a really good movie, the good guys always win, but that they may not do it in the way you expected them to, and we'll re-live bits of our childhoods. "Here comes Luke Skycrawler on his X-wing two-wheeler!"

Wednesday, May 19, 1999

As we were driving to work this morning, Matt tugged on my shirt sleeve, and when I looked at him, he glanced quickly at his watch and said, "Happy One-year, One-month, and One-day Anniversary!" Yeah, we're disgusting like that all the time.

I've got a weird knot-like sensation in the middle of my back this morning. It feels like a vertebra is about to pop, but it won't. I think it comes from sitting in those awful chairs at the church where my Weight Watchers meeting is held.

But Deby (the WW leader) told us that this particular meeting has gotten so large that they're going to split it into two meetings - one will be half an hour earlier than the current meeting, and the other will be an hour later. I'll be going to the earlier meeting, because it's right after work, which is pretty convenient.

This morning when the alarm went off, the radio was playing "Big Old Jet Air-a-Line-A" which is a song I tolerate, but don't especially like, and I thought to myself, "Boy, is that weird. I was just dreaming about that song!" And then I cracked one eye open, because Matt wasn't turning it off. And then I realized that it was my alarm (we need two) and that I'd probably been dreaming about that song because it had been playing when Matt's alarm had gone off three minutes earlier.

I don't know why, but I was thinking about guns while I was in the shower this morning. I know people who run the gamut from card-carrying members of the NRA to those who not only would never touch a gun themselves but think they ought to be banned altogether. I've never really formed a solid opinion on the subject, but it lies somewhere in the middle.

But that's not what I was thinking about. What I was thinking about was this: For every person there comes a time when you actually understand that people have been killed with a firearm. Sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose, but those people are dead because they were shot. As soon as you know what a gun is, you know that its purpose is death, but it's a sort of intellectual knowledge. It doesn't seep deep into your brain until later. And what I was wondering was, how do you explain to a child who has just encountered this deeper level of knowledge why, when guns are so dangerous, the government continues to allow us to have them.

But I couldn't think of a good answer.

It's not that I've decided I'm anti-firearms. I don't object to people having them. But I couldn't figure out how to explain it to a child without getting too complicated. It's just one of those things that you have to be a grown-up to understand, I guess.

Two days until I get to see the new Star Wars movie! Wheee!!!! Some of my friends have already seen it - shows began at 12:01AM last night (this morning?) and will be running steadily through the weekend, at least. People who have seen the movie are under strict orders not to say anything about it to me. As I told Karen when she said she had tickets: I don't want to know anything about the movie. I don't want to know whether you liked it, or how long it was, or what the previews were. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

But then I spent a good hour yesterday poking around the Star Wars web site reading character descriptions. I'm so bad.

Tuesday, May 18, 1999

An update: At lunch yesterday, Jeremy told me that he had heard of the plan by NASA to send solar energy to the earth for use as electricity, and it did, in fact, involve microwaves. So I have to give the awful book that much credit, I suppose. But then we picked it apart even further, so I'm still not inclined to fish it out of the trashcan.

I got my invitation to my high school reunion a few days ago. There are three events: A happy hour on Friday, a cocktail party on Saturday (the main event) and a picnic on Sunday. If by some miracle our house is finished on time, we'll be moving that weekend. I've been looking forward to this reunion for years, but the move is going to put a crimp in our style. (How together can you look after spending a day moving heavy objects?) And it will cost $70 per person if we preregister by the end of June. Not counting what it will cost to locate a cocktail dress. (I had been thinking of wearing my bridesmaid's dress left over from Jen's wedding, but I think it's too long and full to be a cocktail dress, and I'm not a good enough seamstress to alter it for anything but stage use.) Oh, well. By the end of June, we'll have decided whether to move our closing date for the house, at least.

I've got new sheets on the bed at home. Actually, they're not that new - they were given to us as a wedding present, so they're a little more than a year old. But we just took them out of the package this weekend. (Every time we've washed the sheets for a year, we've just put the same set back on the bed. I don't know why.) I love these sheets! They actually fit the bed, and they're very very soft and smooth. I'm tempted to run out and buy another set right away, even though they're sortof expensive, because they feel so nice. But I suppose I'd better wait until they've been used for a while, and washed once or twice, to make sure they're not going to form pills. But right now, they're fantastic!

Not much to talk about today, I guess. We're counting down to Friday for the Star Wars party, and that seems to be pretty much dominating my brain. Maybe tomorrow I'll do my rant for you. Today, I'm just tired.

Monday, May 17, 1999

Have you ever picked up a book that looked sortof interesting and read the first couple of chapters, and been so completely disgusted that you not only didn't want to finish the book, you'd rather throw it away than turn it in to a used bookstore and inflict that awfulness on someone else?

Until yesterday, I hadn't. There are plenty of books that I didn't like. Plenty of books that I never finished because they were boring or I couldn't get the hang of the author's writing style. But yesterday I picked up a book that I had bought from the used book store a few weeks ago. I won't give you a link to it at Amazon, but I'll tell you the title and author, so you won't accidentally pay for it. The book was Sunstroke, by David Kagan.

It was the worst piece of reactionary ignorance I've ever seen.

Science fiction lends itself to reactionary writing. Scientific developments provide fantastic fodder for authors' imaginations. The fuel, apparently, for this piece of shit, was a proposal from NASA to the government that they study the possibility of using satellites in high geosyncrynous orbit as solar cells. The idea was to transmit the solar energy thus collected to the ground to be converted into electricity.

David Kagan didn't like this idea. Not one bit. I only read the first two chapters of his book, understand, but it was obvious right from the dedication page ("This is a work of fiction... But in a few years, it could be fact.") that he not only didn't like NASA's proposal, but that he was downright terrified of it.

Unfortunately, he appears not to have ever so much as looked at a computer program, much less the sort of careful programming used for satellites. He also seems to know nothing whatsoever of the procedures used by a bureaucracy-controlled science. In David Kagan's story, the satellite collected solar energy, converted it into microwaves, and sent the microwaves to a power-processing plant, which converted the microwaves into electricity. Now, I don't know how NASA's proposed study planned to move the collected solar energy to the ground, and I suppose it might have actually used microwaves, but it seems pretty unlikely. But, since I never saw the proposal (which is six years past, by the way) I'll concede the possibility.

In the book, some object damaged the satellite. I never read far enough to know the origin of the damaging object, but given the description of it as a radar-invisible, fiery sphere, I suspect it was fired maliciously at the satellite. By the Russians, no doubt. This collision 1) knocked the satellite out of its orbit, and 2) confused its programming. The defunct satellite suddenly increases its energy collection and the subsequent strength of its microwave beam. The size of the beam changes as well. Half a mile wide, at the base. As the satellite drifts, this super-strong microwave beam travels slowly across the world, frying all plant and animal life in its path. The control base on the ground cannot get a signal through to the satellite to shut it off. This is where I closed the book, and after several moments of contemplation, tossed it in the trashcan.

I laugh at your stupidity, David Kagan. NASA does not create satellites that do not have redundant programming. A satellite in any way capable of generating a dangerous beam would almost certainly cease operations immediately upon receiving any damage. If I were designing a satellite, it would cease operations if it didn't receive the correct signal from the ground every so often - and I'm sure that NASA's designers have thought of better fail-safes than that. Programming, by the way, does not get confused like that. It stops altogether, or it gets stuck on a certain loop, but it doesn't re-write itself! Oh, yeah, and no new electrical system (no new any kind of system, actually) is implemented without backup systems remaining in place! In the book, as soon as the satellite is damaged and the beam knocked off target, the entire city loses power. It might have blinked, but the old, redundant power station would have kicked in within seconds.

Oh, yeah, and I read the last couple of pages, and it looks like it took them weeks to disable the satellite. Um... Given the damage being done, it would only have taken the military a matter of hours to launch a couple of missiles at the damn thing and destroyed it completely to shut it down. (I don't know if this was proposed and rejected for some reason later in the story. The first two chapters only covers about ten minutes.)

BZZZZZZT! Thank you for playing! Don't quit your day job, Mr. Kagan!

So, after careful consideration, I decided that the world would be a better place for one less copy of this book, and I threw it away. I don't even want to turn it in to the used bookstore for credit. It was just bad. Stay away. Stay far away.

I'm usually willing to ignore minor holes in scientific logic, whether they were mistakes on the part of the author, or a deliberate bend in the rules of the universe. I'm usually willing to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a well-written book with characters I can actually care about. But this thing was so badly researched, badly considered, and completely paranoid and reactionary that I had no sympathy for the characters and no reason to pretend that I believed the train of improbably events.

Okay, I feel better now that I've gotten that out of my system.

Friday, May 14, 1999

Matt pointed out to me last night that I'd made a slight error in my Wednesday entry: In describing my favorite dinner, I said I wanted Outback Steakhouse's Cinnamon Thunder for dessert. The dessert is actually called Cinnamon Oblivion. I was confusing it with Chocolate Thunder From Down Under, I guess. Anyway, it's fixed now.

And after yesterday's entry, K.T. and I have been having a conversation via e-mail lately about "favorites." I won't quote the entire conversation, because it's long and involved and has just lately turned into lists of examples, but the gist of the original point was a distaste for the word "favorite" because it implies that the so-designated thing is intrinsically better than everything else. I don't think the word ought to be banished - there are categories for which I have favorites. I listed The Princess Bride as my favorite movie of all-time, but there are times when I don't want to watch it. Does that mean it's not my favorite anymore? Of course not. If I had to choose only one movie to watch ever again in my life it would still be The Princess Bride. It is my favorite movie.

But there are categories for which I have no favorites. Favorite book? No idea. Changes from week to week. And I wouldn't recommend certain books to certain people, and just because I tell you I think you'd like a book doesn't mean that it was my favorite. It doesn't even mean that I liked it - just that I think you will. Sure, there is a core set of books that I've read and re-read until the words have been permanently engraved on my memory. But even that list rotates. When I was in high school and well into college, Glen Cook's Black Company series was - beyond a doubt - my favorite series. Now? I haven't picked up one of those books in years. Through most of college, Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar books were among my most frequently re-read, but I haven't picked them up lately because I don't like the newer ones. I don't have a favorite book anymore. There are probably twenty books in my favorite books list. It doesn't mean anything to anyone besides me, anyway. If you want me to recommend a book, I'm much more likely to take into account what I know of your interests than my own favorites, assuming I know you at all.

Favorite song/album/musical artist? Hmph. I have an awful confession to make. I don't really give a shit about music. It's mostly just noise to me. There are songs that I like, and songs that I hate, and songs that I don't care about one way or the other, but seventy-five percent of the time, I'd much rather not listen to anything at all. I keep the radio on in the car because in the morning I like to hear the weather and news (it's often the only news I hear all day) and because I like to sing, and singing along with the radio is easy. But at home, I couldn't care less. If Matt puts on a CD, that's fine. If he doesn't, that's fine too. Every now and then, I'll really want to hear a certain song or CD or artist, and I'll put them on and play them over and over, and then I'll forget about music for another few days or weeks or months. There are a couple of bands that I almost always enjoy, but I don't consider them favorites.

"Favorite" also denotes real enjoyment. If you asked me what was my favorite sport to watch, I'd probably tell you basketball. But it isn't really. I don't like sports much at all. Basketball gets the top spot by virtue of being the sport I dislike the least, not by being the one I like the most. Is that a favorite? It doesn't sound like it to me, but anyone bothering to ask me about favorite sports probably isn't interested in that sort of detailed analysis.

One of the reasons I stopped using Microsoft's Internet Exporer as my web browser was that it started calling its bookmarks "favorites." How obnoxious is that? It was useful to me to bookmark my company's internal webpage, because that was where all the phone numbers and e-mail addresses were stored, but it was certainly not among my favorite websites! Ditto for sites such as UPS and FedEx tracking and search engines. These are extremely useful pages, and I visit them very frequently - but I don't like them per se. Netscape still calls bookmarks bookmarks, which I appreciate because it acknowledges that I may need access to something that is useful but not enjoyable.

I've rambled on long enough on this topic. You're my favorite reader, really.

Thursday, May 13, 1999

Overheard on the radio this morning:

DJ: Call in and tell us your top three movies that aren't Star Wars!
Caller: (Note please that the caller has a thick Southern accent, so I don't have to try to type it.) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steel Magnolias, and Under Siege.
DJ: Steel Magnolias? Really?
Caller: Well, ya gotta be in touch with your feminine side...

Matt turned the radio off and I almost crashed the car, I was laughing so hard.

So what are my favorite three movies (that aren't Star Wars)?

1) The Princess Bride, hands-down. It's one of the few movies I own for which I actually know the names of most of the actors. (I'm terrible about things like that. I don't know who wrote that book, I don't know who wrote or drew that comic, I don't know who directed or acted in that movie, and I don't know who recorded that song. In a way, it's nice, because I can judge something on its own merits instead of assuming it will be one way or another because of the reputations of the people who made it. But it makes talking about these things sortof a pain.) Anyway, The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Inigo: Give me money!
Count Rugen: Yes!
Inigo: Power too, offer me that!
Count Rugen: All that I have!
Inigo: Give me everything I ask for...
Count Rugen: Anything!
Inigo: I want my father back, you son of a bitch! (killing Count Rugen)

2) Peter's Friends. I like Kenneth Branagh, even if he's a bit of a screen-hog. And I like movies that are funny and sad at the same time. And I like movies where the people are realistic and have real problems, and you don't have to wonder if they existed before the camera began to roll.
Andrew: Oh, Mags! Peter's never been very interested in women.
Maggie: He's definitely gay, then, is he?
Andrew: How should I know?
Maggie: Well, you're his best friend!
Andrew: We haven't discussed it! I don't think he's very interested in men, either. That's the point: I don't think he's very interested, full stop!

3) Disney's Mulan. This is beyond a doubt one of the best Disney movies ever made. All of the characters in it are strong, but they all have their flaws. It's one of the few Disney movies I've ever seen in which the girl's father isn't either dead or a short, fat, doting idiot. And best of all, the re-writers at Disney studios didn't feel compelled to make this a love story.
Mulan: I never want to see another naked man as long as I live!

Wednesday, May 12, 1999

Well, I've been seeing another round of "about me" e-mail questionnaires lately, so I hunted around until I found the most extensive one I could. Hold onto your hats!

Name: Born Elizabeth Carol Luck, now Elizabeth Luck Brooks
Nicknames: Liz
Handle: Dragoneyes (unless I'm on the MeadeHall, in which case all bets are off!)
Date of Birth: 9 November 1971
Marital Status: Married (first and hopefully only time)
Spouse: Matthew Christopher Brooks, married 18 April 1998
Children: No, thanks - I ate lunch on the way over.
Birthplace: Hampton, Virginia
Parents: Chet and Alma Luck, and in-laws Jill and Robert.
Siblings: John (younger by just short of three years). Sister-in-law Rachael and brother-in-law Evan, both younger.
Eyes: Two. Don't ask what color. Grey? Blue? Something in between?
Hair: Very long (to the small of my back) and brown with reddish highlights, apparently.
Height: 5'4"
Weight: More than I'd like it to be, less than it was six months ago, and we'll just leave it at that, OK?
Pets: One cat, black with a white throat. His official name is Diamond, but lately his nickname has been "Spud"
Religion: No thanks, I gave it up for Lent.
Job: Programmer/analyst for 3-G International
Hobbies: Reading, knitting and crocheting, reading, computer games, reading, role-playing games, reading, writing, and did I mention reading yet?
Tattoos and piercings: One set of ear piercings (one hole per ear) and just lately I've been wearing a temporary tattoo on my left ankle. I've thought about getting a real tattoo (something small and inconspicuous) but I can't decide on a design that I'd be willing to live with for the rest of my life. (Also, I'm not very big on pain. I had to psyche myself up to get my ears pierced.)
Things I Collect: Dust, when I'm sitting on the couch reading. Oh, the other kind of collect? Everything. I'm a real pack-rat.
Best Experience: Marrying my best friend
Worst Experience: Graduate School
Worst Habit: Hmm. There are so many to choose from... Okay, I tend to judge people on first meeting them when I know I should get to know them better.
Ideal Future: I want to be rich, but not famous so I don't have to work unless I want to and can spend my life living in the lap of luxury.
Favorite Number: 27
Favorite Color: Blue. Electric blue, midnight blue, any shade except baby blue.
Least Favorite Color: Weird question. I can't wear orange, yellow, red, or dark shades of pink, but I don't dislike those colors - I just don't wear them. There are some pretty awful combinations of colors - Matt has a T-shirt that's got bright purple and neon green.
Ideal Night on the Town: Dinner and a movie with my sweetie, or hanging out with a bunch of friends
Favorite Restaurant: Hey, nice segueway... Applebee's, Top's China take-out, Carmela's (Italian), Don Pablo's (Tex-Mex), and Outback.
Favorite Food: Um... Yes? Oh, all right. Ice cream, chips, sweet fruits, tomatoes, corn
Least Favorite Food: Seafood of any sort, spicy food (I don't even like pepper) and certain icky vegetables.
Favorite Alcoholic Drink: Bloody Mary, Tom Collins, or a screwdriver, depending on my mood and what's available.
Favorite Stones or Gems: Whoever wrote this was angling for an expensive present. Oh, what the heck: Sapphires or opals. One day I'm going to design a pendant or ring with both, in a silver setting.
Favorite Flower: Damned if I know. I like all sorts of flowers. My favorite rose is cream colored with dark pink or red tips, but it's not the only flower I like.
Favorite Season: Autumn
Favorite Holiday: Christmas
Favorite Part of the Newspaper: Comics
Have You Ever...
Used Tobacco? Never even tried it. I hate the smell.
Drank Alcohol? Yeah, but I don't drink much anymore.
Done Drugs? Tried it. Didn't like it.
Broken the Law? Probably. (That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!)
Broken a Bone? Two toes and a finger, and I suspect I once had a greenstick fracture in my leg, but it was never confirmed.
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Nike or Adidas? Geez, what is with these shoe-obsessed people? Who cares? Gimme a pair of Keds and let's just go play!
Blondes or Brunettes? Brune- What? Matt's hair is what color? Oh. Um... Blondes. Definitely. Yeah.
Open windows or AC? AC. Every summer I give thanks multiple times that I was born after AC was invented.
Righty or Lefty? Righty, though there are things I can only do with my left - like snapping my fingers.
Tall or Short? Well, everyone says I'm short, but I think that might just be because I have a lot of tall friends.
What is your biggest pet peeve? Um... I dunno. I'm easy to irritate. Probably it's people who say "nu-cu-lar" instead of "nuclear"
What is your most humiliating moment? And I want to know who thought it would be a good idea to put this question out! Did they think I'd actually tell you? (There are too many to choose from. If you know me in person, you were probably present for at least one of them. If you don't know me, then I don't want you to know how I've humiliated myself!)
What is your favorite breakfast? Waffles or French toast with bacon and sausage. And orange or tomato juice. Yum yum yum yum yum!
What is your favorite lunch? Tuna salad and crackers, sour cream and cheddar chips, and an apple cut into itty-bitty slices.
What is your favorite dinner? Anything I don't have to make myself. Prime rib from Outback steakhouse, with lots of that great bread, a sweet potato on the side, and their cinnamon oblivion for dessert. (Now I'm hungry...)
What do you think about abortion? I think it's a personal choice. My personal choice is that, as long as I will be able to financially support a child, I won't abort it.
What do you think about religion? I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but not a religious one. Other people's religions are fine with me as long as they are willing to go away when I tell them I'm not interested.
Do you agree with the quote "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all"? Yes. Yes, absolutely. If I have to explain why, then you've never really be in love.
Would you have casual sex with someone you liked? Well, not now that I'm married. And I wouldn't have, before. But I recently came to the conclusion that there were times that I should have, as weird as that sounds.

Well, that's a sortof abrupt place to end a questionnaire. Oh, well. Enjoy! And - just to set the record straight - I adore these things, so if you'd like to answer this one and send it to me, I will read it gleefully and with great amusement and I promise I'll write back!

Tuesday, May 11, 1999

My alarm clock has two alarms. I use them both. At 6:05, the radio turns itself on, and then if I continue to hit the snooze button the annoying beeping alarm will sound at 6:30. This morning when the radio turned itself on, the morning DJs were playing a preview for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It took me a second or two to reach out an arm to hit the snooze button (I need both alarms) and by the time I had freed my arm from the covers, Matt had rolled over and stopped me. His eyes were as wide as a five-year-old's on Christmas morning. It was very cute.

While I was writing that first paragraph, I almost typed "the radio went off" about four times, then realized that it sounded like the radio had been on and was now turning off. Aren't idioms fun?

I got on the scale this morning before my shower, and it looks like I might have gained a pound or so this week. Hardly surprising, since we were at a wedding this weekend (not to mention the wonderful rehearsal dinner the night before). I just hope I didn't gain too much.

I have to stop bringing books to work with me. I brought one yesterday and started reading it in the morning, got sucked into the book, and didn't do a lick of work all day. (Well, that's not quite true, but almost.) So today I need to actually do work. The horror... I'm not very excited about it, though - Friday I found out that now we're adding another two pointless layers to the project. I won't bother trying to explain, because so few of the people who read this are programmers (and explaining in deep detail might get me in trouble anyway) but suffice it to say that I was already irritable with the number of layers I was being required to create, and now there's another two. So I'm not very happy, but I am a lowly programmer and so my opinion is casually disregarded. (Listened to, but ignored.)

Dammit, I don't want to feel dissatisfied with my job! I don't know what else I would do!

Gods. It already feels like it should be Thursday or Friday, but it's only Tuesday. How am I going to get through the rest of the week? Oh, well. I guess I'll start with breakfast.

Monday, May 10, 1999

So. None of my aimless worrying about the wedding came true. I'll wait a couple of seconds here while the rest of you get the "Well duh"s and "Toldja so"s out of your systems.

Everybody - and I mean everybody, including Heather (the bride), Tristan (the groom), and the minister - came from out of town for this wedding. The only people who started out in Williamsburg were Matt and I, and Heather's brother, who goes to William and Mary. Every wedding needs a few disasters, don't you think?

Disaster #1: The minister and his wife were supposed to pick up Jason (Tristan's twin brother) on Friday morning and take him to the airport, and the three of them were all going to fly together. Their flight took them from Chicago to Norfolk to Richmond. I don't know why the person arranging the tickets didn't hear this flight path and say, "Hey, Norfolk and Richmond are about the same distance from Williamsburg. Let's just take the straight flight to Norfolk!" but they didn't. However, by the time they got to Norfolk, the flight was running a little behind, and they decided to disembark at Norfolk instead of waiting for the additional flight to Richmond. The people at the airport argued with them profusely and wound up charging them extra, and - I know this is going to shock you - their luggage continued on to Richmond. Luckily, the luggage caught up with them Friday night.

Potential Disaster #1: I don't know whether this minister was flummoxed by not being in his church, or what, but he acted like he'd never performed a marriage before. He also acted like he had no idea what a schedule was. We had exactly one hour to do the rehearsal - another rehearsal was scheduled right after ours, so we couldn't stretch it. Matt and I had been strongly urged by Tristan to show up early, if at all possible. We were early. Heather showed up ten minutes late, and Tristan fifteen. This left us with about forty-five minutes to rehearse. The minister wasted at least ten minutes of that time praying. Then, he pondered for what I thought was an absurd length of time over the proper arrangement and order of things. If no one else had any ideas, wouldn't you think he would have a basic plan?

Potential Disaster #2: Before the wedding, while the bride and bridesmaids were still being photographed, the minister took the groom and groomsmen aside and told them he'd decided on an alternate processional. No one told the girls. It's a good thing the original processional didn't have everyone entering in pairs, or the girls would still be waiting at the back of that chapel for their escorts.

Disaster #2: When we got to the reception, it seemed to be a bit warm. I asked one of the staff if they could turn up the air conditioning, and they promised to get right on it. Half an hour later, I found the manager and asked her to do it, and was told that the air conditioner was broken, but that they were working on it.

Disaster #2.5: When it became clear that the air conditioner was not going to be fixed, Matt approached a staff member and asked them if he could open the windows which lined one wall. The staff member promised to go ask her manager, and then returned to answer, "No - the bride's father has requested some fans, and someone has already gone to get them." We were unsure of why the use of fans would preclude the opening of windows, but obviously this staff member was not hired for her independent thinking and quick wits, so Matt asked another, who replied, "Go fer it, dude!" All but two of the windows, however, refused to stay open, and we wound up collecting empty soda bottles and using them as props.

The temperature improved by about ten degrees, and though it was still warm, we sat back to watch the dancing and enjoy ourselves. I don't know what started the reaction, but something (a strong gust of wind, perhaps) knocked the soda bottle out from the window directly behind Matt and me. My first clue was the crash! of the window falling suddenly closed. As I turned, it was like a slow-motion movie: The window popped out of its groove and began to fall as I realized that it was going to hit the hurricane lamp and candle in the window's alcove. Slowly, it did, and I instinctively raised my arm to protect my eyes as the hurricane shattered into a billion pieces. Then I saw that the candle, though it was knocked over, was still burning, and I could just see it falling to the ground and catching the tablecloth on fire, or burning someone who was trying to clean up and didn't notice it, so I leaned forward and blew it out. Then I turned around. Heather was directly across the room from me, looking understandably startled and worried, and I gestured to her that no one had been hurt. She looked relieved and turned back to the guest she'd been talking to. About four staff members hustled up to clean up the broken glass, and I stepped forward to forestall the three or four children who were drawn to the disaster like flies to honey. Then Heather's mother arrived to find out what happened and make sure everyone was all right. "Oh, no, we're all fine; it's just the broken glass," I reassured, waving my hands placatingly. As I waved my hands, though, I noticed that there was blood running down my finger. "...except that I appear to have a small cut." The hotel's party manager teleported onto the scene (at least, it seemed that fast) with a bandaid for me and she got my name for the accident report.

Being right on the edge of a knuckle, the cut refused to stop bleeding until hours later, but it didn't hurt at all. It didn't even hurt later, and it's almost healed already today.

So there were the disasters. Not too bad, really. And I took what I hope will be some really nice pictures. Must remember to get doubles so I can send them copies - I found out last year that you simply can not have too many wedding pictures.

Friday, May 7, 1999

No spiders in the entryway this morning. There was a centipede, or maybe a millipede (at 2 in the morning I wasn't going to hunker down to check its leg-to-segment ratio). But it was minding its own business, moving slowly away from my apartment, and anyway, I'm not afraid of them. So that was a good thing.

Matt and I will be leaving work a touch early today so we can go home and change clothes for a wedding rehearsal. (I've never figured out why people dress up for the rehearsal, but it's their wedding; I'll wear a dress if they want me to.) They've scheduled an hour-long rehearsal, which means one of two things: They're doing something moderately complicated with the processional, or they're worrying way too much.

I suspect the latter.

So anyway, Matt talked to Tristan last night to confirm the plans. And they've got all these great schedules that I'm pretty sure are going to collapse entirely. Matt thought I was being negative when I laughed at the schedules, but I really wasn't. It's just that when you've got twenty or more people to organize, schedules like that just don't work. Twenty to thirty people (I'm guessing at the numbers, here, but they seem reasonable) don't eat dinner at an exclusive restaurant in less than two hours. (Heck, twenty to thirty people can't even travel the mile from the church to the restaurant in the scheduled half-hour.) I don't know why, and it irritates me, too, but Tristan and Heather are already going to be frazzled and irritable when the schedule slides, so there's really no point to me being frazzled and irritable as well. As long as I'm not the one holding up the show!

So Matt and I are leaving work early to change into something nice for the rehearsal. (Matt asked Tristan what the dresscode was, and Tristan said, essentially, shirt and tie, but "not a dress tie!" I'll wait while you finish chuckling at that.) After the rehearsal, we'll head to the rehearsal dinner, which I'm pretty excited about, since I haven't eaten at this particular very nice restaurant since my sixteenth birthday. Then we'll go home and change into jeans again, and we'll meet the younger crowd at the bowling alley for the bachelor party. (Don't say anything. Heather will never have to worry that Tristan did anything untoward or illegal at his bachelor party.)

So, aside from the rehearsal (which will be boring because I'm not part of it) and waiting for twenty or thirty people to get their collective butts in gear, tonight should be fun. I'm not sure about Saturday, though.

The groomsmen are having photographs taken before the wedding, and then they'll arrive at the wedding in a limo. Which means I'll be dropping Matt off at the hotel at about 11, and going to the church on my own, alone. (I don't like being alone. I especially don't like being alone when I don't know anyone else - and I'm pretty sure that the only people coming to this wedding that I know are going to be in the wedding party.) But at least it's a wedding, which is a spectator sport and I won't look like a wallflower if I'm not making conversation. I'm a little more dubious about the reception.

When I was in college, I went with my boyfriend P. to his brother's wedding - P. was part of the wedding party. I had met P.'s brother and his fiancee on several occasions and liked them both quite a bit. This was a seated dinner, and the wedding party was seated at a long head table. I was seated with P.'s family, which was a nice touch since P. and I weren't even engaged. But P.'s grandmother is one of the most disagreeable old ladies I've ever met in my life, and someone who wasn't thinking had seated this two-pack-a-day smoker between two non-smokers. And without coordinating, both of us managed to ask her to move her smoke to the other side of the table. (We were both polite enough not to ask her to put it out, notice.) But I was the second requester (having missed the first) and she blew up at me. I was embarrassed, humiliated, and angry, but I didn't know anyone else present, (except the people obviously having so much fun at the head table) so I couldn't do anything but excuse myself. Due to someone's obnoxious planning, P. was expected to dance first with a bridesmaid, then with his new sister-in-law, then with his mother, then with his awful grandmother, and only then was he excused to either dance with whoever he pleased or not dance at all - so I was left alone and miserable all the way through dinner and for about forty-five minutes afterward. It was one of the worse experiences of my life, actually. (This memory was, by the way, the one that spawned my side of the table argument.)

Now, I'm sure this won't be anywhere near that bad. For one thing, I'm not as emotionally dependant as I used to be, so I'm sure I can survive some time without my husband. And my allergy to smoke isn't as bad as it used to be, and I've figured out since then that no one is going to care if I discreetly move to another seat if the one I'm assigned isn't working out. (Actually, this is a mid-afternoon reception, so I'll be surprised if there are assigned seats at all.)

It's just that I'm a terribly introverted person, and even more so when I don't know anyone I'm trying to talk to. So I worry about things that really aren't that important, like whether I'll find anyone to talk to or dance with or if I'll just spend the whole afternoon sitting in a corner. Stupid, I know, but what can you do?

Anyway, I'm sure I'll feel better when I actually get there. And I've been told that several girlfriends of groomsmen are coming along to the bowling party, so maybe by tomorrow I'll have met some other people to hang around with. I just wanted to whine a little. Just in case.

Thursday, May 6, 1999

So. This morning I killed a spider. It troubled me deeply, but it had been in a lot of pain, and I just had to let it go. No, really, I got up at 4AM to let the cat out, and when I opened the door that leads from our apartment to the building's entryway, there was this enormous spider sitting in the entryway.

How enormous, you ask? Well, give me a second - it was four in the morning, after all, and I want to be completely objective about this. I think it was about a foot and a half across. No, really, it was about an inch and a half, maybe two. Of course I'm counting the legs! When you ask how tall a human is, you count the legs, don't you? When you measure the height of a horse, you count the legs! (Not the head, for reasons I'll never understand, but you do count the legs!) When I measure spiders, I count the legs! Anyway, this is pretty damn big for a spider in these parts. (At least, it's pretty big for the ones that crawl out from under their rocks.) It was raining, so I suspect the spider was just looking for someplace dry to hang out. It chose... Poorly.

Every now and then I am grateful for some of my health problems. For example, the fact that I have problems with my feet means that I slip on my shoes even at 4AM to let the cat out, and therefore I was not confronted with this spider while barefoot. (I was wearing orthopedic sandals, however, which meant my toes were exposed, and so things could have been better.) Anyway, it was just sitting there, so I was hoping I could lean way over to open the outside door and let the cat out, and then I would deal with the spider.

But no.

The cat, in its infinite, catty wisdom, sniffed the spider. This, as I'm sure you can understand, bothered the spider. I'm sure if I just ran into some cave to get out of the rain and a giant nose came down and snuffled at me, I'd do exactly what that spider did: Shriek hysterically and start running in circles. Well, okay, the spider didn't shriek (not that I could hear anyway, but I suppose it might have let out whatever noise spiders let out when they're awakened at 4AM by giant feline noses) but it did start running in circles. And the path of its circle was going to take it straight into my apartment.

This, as I'm sure you understand if you know me at all, is wrong.

So I stepped on it. It was all I could do. The poor thing was suicidal. And it was moving way too fast for me to even attempt to think of anything else. But what else could I have done? Slammed the door on it? That would have trapped my poor cat in the apartment building's entryway. Forever, possibly, because knowing that there was a hysterical spider the size of my fist (okay, the size of a 50-cent piece) lurking in the hallway waiting for me to come out so it could run across my feet with its little spidery legs... Nope. That door was not being opened again. So you see, it's all for the best that I stepped on it before I had time to think about it.

Having been brave enough to actually kill the spider, I then experienced my usual post-spider jitters, and I left it in the entryway and went back to bed, where I had the creepy-crawlies for half an hour or so before managing to fall asleep again. You know, that's one thing that bothers me about spiders. I stepped on the damn thing wearing inch-thick shoes, with a great deal of the force that my not-inconsiderable frame could muster. How come it didn't stay flat? Anything else I stepped on would have made a little buggy pancake, but the spider still managed to retain enough structural integrity to curl up into a ball. Why is that? (No, I do not want you to write me explaining; that was a rhetorical question, dammit!)

Its little carcass was still in the hallway when I let the cat back inside at 6. I stepped carefully around it (the thought of even a completely dead spider touching my skin gives me the heebie-jeebies) and opened the door for the cat. The cat stopped and sniffed at it again, but since it didn't offer an interesting reaction this time, Diamond shrugged (a very cat-like shrug, I assure you) and sauntered back into the apartment. And it was still there at 7:15, when Matt and I left for work. Matt agreed with me that it was an unusually large spider for our area, and carefully, with the edge of his shoe (and while I stood a safe distance away) flipped the spider's body out of the entryway and into the dirt. If he hadn't done that, I'd have had to step around it every time I went through the entryway for the next five days, until the stairwell was cleaned again.

My hero.

Wednesday, May 5, 1999

Archive - 5 May 1999

Dammit, I had a topic in mind for today. What was it? Well, I can't seem to remember, so while I'm thinking about it, you get a diet update. I went to Weight Watchers and lost about a pound and a half, which was good, and I got my 25-pound bookmark, which was great. This week is going to be rough, though. Matt's good friend Tristan is getting married this weekend, so Friday night will be the rehearsal dinner (at a very nice restaurant) and the bachelor party (girls allowed - we're going bowling), and Saturday the wedding itself and the reception, and if we're not too tired we might go to a birthday party Saturday night. I'll have to save a lot of points up and build up a lot of willpower before the weekend hits.

Well, since I can't remember the topic I was thinking of when I was brushing my teeth this morning, I'll talk about gaming, because my brain has been completely occupied with writing a history for my latest Werewolf character lately.

My first introduction to gaming was in high school, when I played in an AD&D game (I trust I don't have to spell out that particular acronym for anyone?) for a few months. To be honest, I don't remember anymore what kind of character I played, though I recall quite clearly that my GM's girlfriend played an elf with "Leaf"-something as part of her name. I remember that because it suited her quite well. Some time that year, I wrote a short story about a group of seven people that was loosely based on the personalities of the seven of us in that group. When my GM read it, he liked it so much that he prodded me to expand it to a novel, and even helped me with it. (I'm pretty sure he never got the mapping of people to names exactly right, since he mapped himself onto the character whose name was similar to his.) Ahem. Back on topic.

After that game broke up, I didn't play any more for a while. After I started college, my boyfriend, P., brought me with him to his gaming group. By this time the second edition of AD&D had been released, and I watched for a few games, uncertain of the new rules. But after a while, to keep me from being bored, they gave me an NPC (non-player character - giving her to me turned her into a PC, of course) to play. I consider her to be my first character, since I can't remember the real first one. This was Brighteyes, and she had a history, which I promptly embellished, and I made her my own. Our gaming group rotated a lot, and the current campaign changed on a near-monthly basis. I played a lot of different characters. Most of my favorites had well-thought-out pasts. I still have character sheets and disks of fiction about Brighteyes, Xi'inith, and S'ayad'i. (I was really into apostrophes for a while; I don't know why.)

My senior year at William and Mary, I was introduced to White Wolf's game, Vampire: The Masquerade. I played Gina, a gypsy girl who had been seduced by a vampire. I wrote up her background story, too, and for a while, tried to write the events of the game as a story as well. (That didn't work as well.) I also flirted with a game or two of Shadowrun, but found it entirely too mercenary for my tastes.

The summer after my senior year, K.T. ran a Palladium Heroes game for Matt and me. I played Danielle, who could become insubstantial and invisible and was a crack shot with a rifle. Even after I left Williamsburg to go to grad school, K.T. continued the Heroes game, and Danielle eventually became the often spoken of but seldom seen leader of the rebellion against the game's arch-villian.

There was a long dry spell while I was at graduate school - I only gamed occasionally when I came back to Williamsburg to visit. Then, about the time I was coming back, Colleen started a Vampire game in which I was going to play a street punk vampire whose best friend was a werewolf. (In the White Wolf gaming system, vampires and werewolves are enemies. Because they're both dark games, tragedies like a werewolf's best friend being turned into a vampire play well.) Matt was playing the werewolf. Our imaginations were so caught up by this couple (were they lovers? No, but the potential was there, if only they could get past worrying that it would screw up their friendship. How did they meet? What did they do for fun? What made them such close friends?) that we wrote a story that eventually expanded into enough written material to fill two novels. (And the story was never finished. Matt got stuck, and we haven't worked on it in years.) In fact, the story continued long after the game itself had stopped.

About a year after Matt and I started dating, we got into a new gaming group, playing the old standby AD&D. With breaks to try Champions and Call of Cthulu, that game ran for two years, though none of my characters took me by force.

Recently, we've been playing Alternity with K.T. as the GM, and we're getting ready to switch to a Werewolf game, and my Werewolf character, Crazy Jenny, has really grabbed my imagination.

I think that's why I play. I love it when a character worms her way (I tried playing a male character once, but everyone kept forgetting.) into my brain and won't get out until I put her story down somewhere. I love to wonder what drove this character to a life of adventure; what personality traits led them to the path they chose. And I love the games, because I'm a terribly competitive person (I quit playing Magic: The Gathering card game because I couldn't stand losing, and I was just terrible at it) and role-playing games are cooperative. It's also a fascinating peek into the minds of your fellow players, especially if you play with them over several games. (Though you have to be careful with your interpretations - some are obvious, and some are not. One friend, M., always always always played drop-dead gorgeous characters, and that was pretty easy to explain, because she was a moderately plain-looking person. But another friend always plays thieves, and I don't think it's because she's got a hidden larcenous streak - it's because in most games, if you have a great deal of dexterity and grace, then thievery is what you're good for. And this friend is a klutz. At least, the dexterity and grace thing is why I play so many thieves. That, and the carefree attitude.)

Another side-track. ::grin:: It's easy to do. Anyway, that's gaming in my life.

Tuesday, May 4, 1999

Archive - 4 May 1999

Ack! I forgot my disk today, so I'm having to edit this directly on the server, with Pico instead of some nice graphical interface. Doesn't really seem to make that much difference, so far anyway.

We made it to the gym yesterday and this time I remembered to use less weight on the wrist machine for my left wrist. Maybe I'll just keep using the same weight for the right wrist as the left improves, so eventually I'll be able to use one weight for everything. Matt joined the gym yesterday as well, and Wednesday is his orientation on the weight machines, which means 1) we have to go to the gym Wednesday as well, and 2) we'll be there pretty late Wednesday. (He didn't say what time his orientation was, but it takes about an hour.)

I've got an appointment today with my massage therapist, which is good. Saturday at KT's, I spent about two hours sitting on the floor, which was not good for my back. I've had a persistent ache in the middle of my back ever since. I've never been a big fan of sitting on the floor, but these days it's almost impossible. I simply must be able to lean back against something.

And tonight is Weight Watcher's. I haven't been especially good this week, but I haven't been especially bad, either. So we'll see. I hope I'll finally have broken this plateau I've been on. But I have to remember the new rules! (If I gained more than two pounds, I have to go to the gym!)

::yawn:: I got to sleep all night last night, but it still doesn't seem like enough. I wonder if I'll fall asleep on the massage table. Probably not - some of the deep massage is moderately painful, which makes it hard to sleep through. Hmm. I wonder if I can extend my session to a full hour instead of the half-hour I usually get... It would be worth the extra cost... (And who knows? The insurance company just might cover it.)

This is so boring today... A veritable laundry list of yesterday evening and today. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, well. Days like that happen, right? It's probably a good thing, too.

Have a nice day!

Monday, May 3, 1999

Archive - 3 May 1999

Had a pretty good weekend. Friday night, we went shopping. Matt went to J.C. Penney's and while the clerk he talked to wasn't exactly sure how to ship gifts, she knew that it was possible and was willing to look it up. So that's done. While he was in Penney's, I went to Lane Bryant to pick up some bras, and while I was there I noticed that they had stretch jeans in stock again. (I will only wear stretch jeans. They are so much more comfortable than normal denim.) So, since jeans sizes are weird, I grabbed to pairs to try on - the size I thought I needed, and the next larger size. (Jeans usually run small. I don't know why.) But the size I thought would fit were loose! Whoo-hoo! Of course, they didn't have the next size smaller in stock. ::sigh:: So I still don't have jeans that fit. But it felt good, dammit! And I bought some butterfly clips that are currently The Thing (they'll be gone in a month or so, I'm sure, but I've been seeing them all over the place in the last couple of weeks) so I'm feeling very stylish.

After we went shopping, we went over to K.T.'s and chatted for a while and then we watched Gross Pointe Blank, which was a fun movie. (Quick sum-up, if you've never seen it before: John Cusak plays a hit-man who goes to his 10-year high school reunion.)

Saturday we lazed around the house for a while and then went to K.T.'s again for the bi-weekly game. We wrapped up the Alternity game - and I felt really good about the wrap-up. I actually came up with a plan, dictated it to the others, modified it slightly based on their suggestions, and executed it. And I made it through combat without getting knocked unconscious! (Only just barely, but that counts!) Then we made up characters for the Werewolf game we're going to do next. Joel, who I've started to warm up to, lost ground with me by complaining that he didn't think he'd like the game - but making up a character anyway. (For pete's sake, it's OK if you don't think you'd like a game, but if you're going to try it, don't complain about it!) Somewhere in there, we all went out to dinner. Usually, we order out pizza or send a couple of people to fetch fast food, but we were having trouble deciding and Saturday was K.T.'s birthday anyway, so we went out to eat. Italian food, mmm.

Sunday was nice, too. We had a nice, quiet morning (okay, I had a nice, quiet morning - Matt slept until noon) and then after we got the chores done, we went to my folks' place to visit with them. Mom had put a pot roast in the oven that morning, so she invited us to stay for dinner, and you'd better believe we stayed! I love pot roast, but almost never make it because I don't have a pan big enough for a roast and all the vegetables I like with a roast. And slow-cooking a roast means you need to be home most of the day. (Yeah, I've thought about making it in my crock pot, but the crock pot isn't big enough - again - to hold all the veggies. As far as I'm concerned the only reason you need meat in a pot roast is to flavor the vegetables. I like to make a 1 - 2 pound roast with about 4 pounds of potatoes, carrots, and onions.)

So that was my weekend. I hope yours was good, too!