Friday, October 29, 1999

29 October 1999

Well, since I probably won't write again until Monday, I thought I should give you some good Hallowe'en graphics.

In anticipatory celebration, I've got a bat sticker on the corner of my glasses, a small tattoo (fake, duh) under one eye, I'm wearing all black, my shirt reads COSTUME, and my socks have little jack-o-lanterns all over them.

My officemates are going to think I'm a freak. In fact, I'm pretty sure my husband, inspecting my new tattoos last night, was thinking quietly to himself, "Dear god, I married this?"

And as I've said before - this is only my second-favorite holiday. Just wait until the winter holidays roll around!

Yesterday afternoon I was trying to read through some code with an eye to cleaning it up and modularizing it. This isn't especially strenuous work, so at the same time I was doing that, I was talking to KT on AIM and participating sporadically in an argument on the Diary-L mailing list.

The argument was getting sortof out of hand, though, and at one point I told KT, "I'm going to have to take my work home with me tonight. There are too many distractions at work!"
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I mostly finished our Hallowe'en costumes last night, though Matt's didn't turn out as good as I thought it would. I talked about maybe just giving up and going to Target to buy a giant pumpkin or M&M costume, but Matt insisted that he wanted to wear the one I made. "Tom Gregg was a giant M&M!" he protested.

Of all the people we've invited to our party so far, the only ones who have said for certain that they're coming are KT, Kevin, Jeremy, Elizabeth, T, Jerry, and (probably) Becky. I'm sure some others will come - they just missed the part in the e-mail where I said "Please let us know whether you're coming!" (Hint, hint, all of you who read my journal!) Anyway, of the people who have said they're coming, exactly one of them - Becky - is planning on coming in costume. I'm glad Becky decided to wear a costume; I was starting to worry that Matt and I were going to be the only ones. (KT and Kevin were planning on costumes, but KT's recent injury made it difficult for them to put something together. I don't know whether they'll try to slap something together at the last minute or not.) I sure hope some of the non-RSVP'ers are going to come in costume. (Maybe I should have threatened to take pictures of everyone not in costume, instead. That would've decked 'em out!)

Wait, I just remembered Carl insisting that Colleen not tell what his costume was going to be because he wanted to surprise us, so I guess Carl is coming. And since Carl is coming, there's a pretty good chance that Richard and Colleen will come, too. Whether Richard and Col will be in costume or not remains to be seen.)

Pictures Monday, I promise! My camera is all charged up and ready to go!
Mail me!

Thursday, October 28, 1999

28 October 1999

Before I start - those of you who check in the morning should be aware that I made two updates to yesterday's journal entry, so if you checked before about 2:30, you haven't read it all!
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Well, we had a nice evening last night. We were trying to decide what to do about dinner when K.T. called and asked whether we wanted to come over for dinner. Before I could even tell Matt what she was planning to make, he said, "Yes! Sounds great! Fantastic!" (Go on - guess whose turn it was to make dinner.)

KT made Reuben soup for us. There's a brief story behind this soup. KT once worked for a restaurant in Williamsburg called Beethoven's. Beethoven's was a moderately pretentious sandwich shop that played classical music on its sound system, kept board games and toys for people to play with on the tables, had extremely slow service and moderately high prices, and only used rye and pumpernickel bread. The food was very good, I understand. I have to understand this, because I don't care for pumpernickel bread, and a childhood mishap with rye makes me nauseous just smelling it; never mind trying to eat it. Since this was a sandwich shop, you can imagine that this significantly reduced the number of things on their menu that I was able to eat. When outvoted and dragged there anyway, I usually just had a cheese and cracker platter.

I'm getting off track. The point was, Beethoven's, despite being a little pretentious, made pretty good food. While KT was working there, they occasionally made what they called Cream of Reuben soup. The soup was, more or less, a Reuben sandwich (corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and russian dressing) minus the bread, in a cream base. The traditional bread for a Reuben is rye, and so I'd never tried one. Besides, I didn't like sauerkraut or swiss cheese, and these seemed ample reasons to avoid the soup as well. But K.T. loved Reubens, and she adored this soup. So she asked for the recipe, promising that she wouldn't give it out and she'd tell everyone where she got it. (Another local sandwich place, the Cheese Shop, employs this tactic with its employees to safeguard the recipe for their fantastic house dressing.)

Beethoven's refused.

Now, K.T. is nothing if not determined, so while she was living in Lynchburg, without much else to do, she reverse-engineered the recipe. As a sort of revenge to Beethoven's for being so snooty to her, she gave the recipe to a number of delis in the Lynchburg area, at least one of which added it to their regular menu. It's a wonderfully rich soup, if you like Reubens. (I learned to like them later, when I'd decided sauerkraut wasn't all bad and swiss cheese was bearable in small doses - and when I'd found someone who would make it for me without giving me weird looks for asking for it on a roll instead of on rye.) It involves all the ingredients for a Reuben sandwich - aside from the bread, as I said, along with cream and sour cream and broth. This is not what we call a heart-healthy soup. But it's sooooo good.

After dinner, we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. Matt and I had been playing the soundtrack to it while we carved our jack-o-lanterns, and one of the songs had gotten stuck in my head. So I suggested we bring it with us to watch. Of course, as it was starting KT realized that she had her own copy of it on her shelf! But it was fun. It's a fairly silly little movie.
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I'm a little sleepy today. After we got home, I still had to take a shower, so I didn't get to bed until about 11 or so. And that's why this is all you're getting. Enjoy the animated gif and stop grumbling.

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

27 October 1999

So I hear that one of my JavaScript code snippets is giving some people a hard time - an error message pop-up. If you're having this problem, please get a screen capture of the error message and send it to me so I can try to fix it. Though I'd just like to say that the problem seems to be occurring in SiteMeter's code, not mine.
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Of course, sending me mail could be tricky. My office yesterday switched over to using Exchange server for not only inter-office but also internet mail. Despite the loud protests from my officemate, who used to run the mail server, and from our IS department, who knows that Exchange is a piece of excrement. But it's got some features that would admittedly be very nice if the damn program worked, and the Senior VP wanted them, and so the edict came down from On High that we will use Exchange.

Jeremy offered to set things up on a Linux box so that those of us who refuse to use Outlook for our mail can continue using Netscape Messenger and Eudora and whatever other e-mail client makes us happy - he's set up a box to run fetchmail every so often to grab all of our mail off of the Exchange server and put it in normal mail accounts. We had already been doing this anyway so we could get inter-office mail without having to run Outlook, and didn't think it would be a big problem. When the mail server switched from being a Linux box to being the Exchange server, there were some issues with resetting our mail profiles to point to the new Linux box, and we had to change our fetchmail batch files to match the new logins.

I couldn't get mail from home last night and only figured out this morning that it's because the IS department still hasn't gotten around to changing my login id - according to that, I'm not married yet. I went into my fetchmail batch and changed the userid from lbrooks to lluck, and everything downloaded just fine...

Except that the Exchange server is down, and so no new mail has come in all night.
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Half an hour later, and things are worse than they were before. If you want to send me mail for the next few days, use this address, or try to reach me on AOL Instant Messenger (name LizLBrooks).

If we get things working, I'll try to write something worth writing about... Sorry.
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11:30 am: Okay, I think things are working. Mostly. I won't bother listing the problems and fixes; they'd just be boring to you, I'm sure.

I even think I found and fixed the JavaScript problem, so if you have any problems, let me know promptly!
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On the radio this morning, they said that trick-or-treating is not going to be moved to Saturday night. That's something of a relief for me - now we won't have to worry about trick-or-treaters while we're setting up for our party on Saturday.

I'm getting excited about this weekend. ("Getting??!?", I hear Matt exclaim.) I'm even excited about the preparations - Friday night I'll make brownies, and Saturday afternoon I'll make meringue kisses. (I was going to do that the other way around, but Matt said I had to wait until Saturday to make the meringue kisses so that there would actually be some left for the party.) I'm trying to decide whether I want to make a couple of pitchers of pre-mixed drinks in advance (bloody marys and tom collins, if you're curious - my two favorite alcoholic drinks) and keep them in the fridge. I'm also trying to decide if I want to make ghost cookies, and when we should get and cut up the cheese for cheese and crackers...

Excited. Yeah.

There's a bit of work to be done on Saturday as well - we've still got two half-unpacked boxes in the main living area, and my dad's drill box on the floor in the living room. We'll need to clean all the day-to-day crap off the bar (that's where we dump mail that isn't bills or trash) and re-arrange the furniture. I'm pretty sure we'll need to buy more plates and napkins, too. Hmm. Maybe we should do that tonight, because by Saturday everything will be gone...

Yeah. Excited. I'm wearing a glow-in-the-dark ghost sticker on my chest today. Tomorrow it'll be the make-your-own jack-o-lantern sticker I got from the dentist.

You think this is bad, wait until Christmas rolls around...
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2:00 pm: Okay, I've been feeling introspective this afternoon, and this is the place to let it out, I guess.

I've been thinking, lately, of trying to do something with my hair.

Over the past six months or so, I've been working toward self-acceptance, on a physical level. I honestly don't believe I'm ever going to be thin again, and I have three real choices, here: I can refuse to accept that and spend the rest of my life fighting myself and hating what I am. I can accept it and spend the rest of my life making excuses and getting even fatter and secretly hating what I am. Or I can accept it and learn to love myself anyway - even learn that I can be beautiful anyway.

I like the third option best. But I think it's probably the hardest to do. I've been alternating between the other two options for the past ten years, and I don't like either of them. I hate dieting and being on a diet and not eating when I want to eat. I hate feeling conspicuous if I have anything other than salad for lunch. I hate making whiney excuses for the way I am and knowing deep down that they're nothing more than excuses, and I hate eating because I'm so stressed over my weight. (Yes, I really do that, and if you've never been fat, then you'll never understand, so don't even try.)

I want to look in the mirror and think, "Dear gods, but I'm beautiful! Look at that hair! Look at those eyes! Check out those curves!" Sexy doesn't have to equal skinny. (Even before I had weight issues, I thought curves were sexier than bones, on women and men alike!) If I eat when I'm not hungry, I want it to be because I'm a sensual person, and I enjoy the textures and flavors of what I'm eating - not because I'm swearing up, down, and sideways that I deserve this binge because tomorrowbygod I'm going on a diet! I want to be one of those heavy-but-active women who eat what they want, do what they want, enjoy what they enjoy, and forpetesake don't give a shit what anyone else thinks.

It sounds like heaven, to me. And nearly as far away.

I touch it, sometimes. Every now and then I'll be getting dressed and look up in the mirror and wonder for just an instant who that beauty is smiling at me. When I catch myself off-guard like that it's garunteed to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Every now and then, I'll just feel it, and I can tell just having the attitude makes a difference.

And what's funny is that I think for me, that's the attitude I need to stop the weight from coming. When I'm feeling that good about myself... I'm not so hungry, I want to go out and do things, I'm more active...

So I'm trying to cultivate the attitude. Slowly, slowly, I'm learning how to do it on purpose. Inch by inch, I'm becoming reacquainted with my body (I haven't had more than bathroom mirrors for the past ten years) and making my peace with it. Learning how to hold it, what looks good posing, what looks good moving... Yeah, I vogue for myself in front of my mirror. Wanna make something of it?

It's coming. Slowly but surely.

Anyway, part of the evidence that it's coming is that I've started taking an interest in the things I can actually change again. I'm looking for clothes with form as well as function, I've started wearing skirts more, I'm trying new things with my hair, and wearing dabs of makeup.

Some of these things, though, have problems. Clothese are expensive - especially when your weight yo-yo's as much as mine does. Do I really want to spend $50 or more on a dress that looks fabulous if it's not going to fit me three months from now? Matt objects to makeup. He says it's just because he's not used to it on me, but I started wearing some lip gloss the other day, and he's still teasing me about it. Lip gloss! (Okay, to be fair, he's teasing me because it's chocolate-milk flavored, mostly. But still.) Besides, it's been so long since I wore makeup on an everyday basis that I'm not sure I know where to start.

Well, that leaves hair. And hair is a great thing to play with. Decorative bits are usually just a couple of bucks, and if you hate the way it looks, wash it and try again! Cut it, and it takes longer, but still, it grows back. The absolute worst that can happen is that you cut it all off - and while that's pretty terrible, I've seen some adorable hats lately, and there are some very cute hairstyles for women with ultra-short hair.

Unfortunately for me, I have some rules about my hair that pretty severely restrict playing with it. I don't own a curling iron, and don't want to. I don't like to blowdry my hair unless I have to, either. Heat is bad, bad, bad for hair, and one of the things I love best about my hair is its soft texture. Heat would ruin that. So I use a blowdryer to help shape my bangs occasionally (Matt even teased me about that, when I brought the hairdryer out of hiding) but that's all.

I love having long hair. I cut it short just before going into the sixth grade, and hated it. I immediately started growing it back out, but it took all the way until the end of high school to do. I won't cut my hair shorter than my shoulder blades ever again.

I don't like using gunk in my hair, either. (Gunk means mousse, gel, hairspray, or any other product that I don't rinse out before styling.) Once again, it interferes with the texture.

And I'm not very good at braiding or styling, either, though I'd be willing to learn if someone wanted to try to teach me.

This doesn't leave me with many options. I could try to color it, but I can't picture myself with any other color hair, really. Actually, just a few auburn highlights might look great, but KT and Colleen have both done the red hair thing. I hate being a copycat, and as long as my hair is, it would look awful for years while it grew out.

So anyway... I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe get one of those temporary dyes that wash out in a couple of weeks? Stick with the same old half-ponies and twists and get some new clips to stick in them? I just want to do something - something to assert my position as a woman for whom physical beauty is an option, but something that I can back out of if I don't like it. Something new and different and exciting - but something my husband won't tease me about too much.

I'm asking too much, I know. Maybe I'll just get colored hairspray for Hallowe'en weekend.
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By the way, I know I don't exactly have a huge readership here, and I update on a regular basis, but would anyone be interested in a notify list? For these afternoon updates, and whatever other peculiar ramblings might strike me as needful? If so, let me know, and I'll think about it.

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

26 October 1999

In case you missed yesterday's afternoon update (No, don't go look; I'm going to tell you the news now!), the interview KT and I did for Metajournals is up!

And with good timing, too, because I'm extraordinarily tired today - I spent last night waking up every half hour or so, and while I generally went straight back to sleep again, I'm feeling quite drowsy this morning. I contemplated skipping work and staying home so I could sleep in. But Matt guilted me into coming to work. So now I'm contemplating skipping my Weight Watchers meeting so I can go home and take a nap - it's going to be bad news this week anyway.

Anyway, the Metajournals article is good timing because I said back when we did the interview that once it was posted, I'd answer the other questions. See, KT and I asked each other a whole bunch of questions - ten or eleven. And we only sent five or six to Metajournals. So. Here are the questions KT asked me that we didn't send to Metajournals:
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If your husband had a fatal heart attack tonight, what would you most regret not having done together? When do you think you will actually get around to doing those things?

I would regret not living to a ripe old age together most of all. Arguing with the government over his property, I'd probably regret that we hadn't gotten around to having our wills drawn up. Trying to scrape together the mortgage payments, I'd regret that we don't have life insurance policies beyond the ones we have at work. Living alone in our house with the memories we've created there - or having to move to a smaller home that he'd never even seen, I might regret that we didn't have children. I know. That isn't what you want me to talk about. I'll try again, but this is a rough topic.

Every new place I saw, I'd regret that he wasn't with me to see. Every new event that happened, I'd regret that he wasn't there to talk about it with me. Every thing that made me laugh would make me wonder whether he would have enjoyed it as well. I'd regret that we didn't spend more time together really talking and *being* together, rather than reading and playing on the computer. I'd regret opportunities missed for picnics in the park and movies watched and long mornings spent snuggling and making love.

In truth, if I lost Matt, more than anything else I'd regret not having gone with him.

If you could possess one supernatural ability, what would it be?

I've always thought it would be fun to fly, but the more I think about it, the more I think I'd actually like to be able to shapechange. I could change into something that flies, if that's what I want to do. Or swims. Or... yeah. Shapechanging would be cool.

What one thing gives you the most comfort?

This is where I answer something more or less standard, like "my friends" or "my husband" and everyone says "Aww...." and we move on to more interesting questions.

(Okay, so some of them didn't get sent to Metajournals for good reason.)

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I have thousands of peeves. Ask anyone who knows me; I'm a terribly peevish person. Saying "nu-cu-lar" instead of "nu-cle-ar" is probably the one most likely to make me actually attempt to correct you.

If you were offered the perfect job in one city, and your husband were offered the perfect job in another city more than 500 miles away, where would you go? Would it affect your relationship?

I don't think something like that could NOT affect our relationship, but I'd like to think it would be the sort of stress that makes the relationship stronger. As for what we'd do, I'm sure I don't know. There are all sorts of other factors to consider - the amount of each offered salary, compared to the cost of living in each city and the difficulty of the other person finding a similar job in the other city. If one of those perfect jobs was near friends or family, that would probably give it an edge. The climate and weather patterns of each city are important as well. In short, after probably a lot of discussion, we'd go where we would both have the greatest chance of happiness. Neither Matt nor I expects our jobs to be perfect anyway, so I think it would really be the incidental factors that would matter the most.

What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of? What things are on you list of "To Do Before I Die"? what thing have you done that you most wish you had not? Does this count as more than one question??

Of course it's more than one question... But that's all right, they're all sortof related. The problem is, I'm not sure I can answer any of these questions, because I don't usually think much in terms of accomplishments and personal pride. Is it an accomplishment that I got married? It was more of an event, really. I suppose I could say that earning my master's degree was an accomplishment, but I don't really feel, most of the time, that I worked for it. (Not academically, anyway. The amount of emotional effort I had to put into it was not - in my opinion - worth it.) I'm sure it seems like an accomplishment that I've got a good job, but that had more to do with luck and contacts my father has than my own personal achievement. There isn't very much that I do that I really feel comes entirely *from* me. The counted cross-stitch I did of a dragon wrapped around a castle - that I feel some pride in; that was five months of my life, essentially. I felt accomplishment when I gave my mother an afghan for her birthday that I had made myself, and she was so touched she cried. And I'm proud - in a way - of the fact that I have so few regrets.

I regret a few occasions where I treated people badly. I regret the time when I was so ashamed of myself I ran away from home rather than face my mistakes squarely. I regret not having the courage to leave a bad relationship as soon as it became obvious things weren't going to improve. I regret not taking some of the opportunities placed before me in college - but not all of them.

So that I will not have any more regrets on my deathbed - the accomplishments I have yet to achieve... I want to travel a little. I want to learn more. I want to be generous in my gifts and lavish with my love. I want to... I want to be known, when I die, as a person who enjoyed life.
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In addition, I don't know whether the Metajournals editors hated my writing, or if I was too wordy, or what, but they chopped off some of the most interesting bits of what we sent them. Okay, I'll admit I went a little overboard in a place or two, but they didn't finish the advice I would give if I could go back in time and talk to my younger self - so here's the entire answer:

If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you say?

Hmm. That depends on how far back in time I could go...

- If I could go back to my elementary school self, I'd try to explain how, if I could manage to make them think I didn't care what they thought about me, they'd actually beg for my company.
- If I could go back to my junior high self, I'd try to see if I could teach myself a little earlier how to turn the weirdness they mocked into the armor that became my banner and shield.
- If I could go back to my high school self, I'd try to talk myself into trying out for more plays. I'd tell myself to stop being such a bitch to the couple of guys who had crushes on me, especially since they were my friends, for petesake. And I'd have a good long chat with myself about sex - I don't regret losing my virginity then, but I did lose some self-respect when I did it because I was capitulating rather than deciding.
- If I could go back to my college self, I'd tell myself to forpetesake get rid of my lying, cheating, druggie boyfriend! By the time he started lying and cheating, he'd already introduced me to the people I met through him who are still my friends, so I wouldn't lose them. And I might explain to myself how a little careful experimentation with sex wouldn't hurt me and that it might be OK to act on a little lust without thinking it was Undying Love.

(Actually, re-reading that, they chopped out the bits about sex. I wonder if they're worried about being lambasted for poor moral content or something?)
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Anyway, tomorrow I'll begin to answer the questions that I asked KT for myself.

Monday, October 25, 1999

25 October 1999

Spooky jack-o-lanternsHallowe'en Week, baby! Hallowe'en is my second favorite holiday, and probably the only reason it doesn't actually beat Midwinter (Christmas) is because the Hallowe'en festivities are pretty much confined to October 31 and the preceding weekend, while Midwinter festivities encompass the better part of a month. (Also, because Hallowe'en decorations feature spiders, which is worth negative points in my scale.)

Ah, but wearing costumes, carving pumpkins, and eating candy all make up for it!

Matt's jack-o-lanternMatt and I are throwing a Hallowe'en party on Saturday. The only slight problem I can think of is that, since Hallowe'en itself falls on a Sunday, it's possible that the neighborhood kids will be trick-or-treating on Saturday. (Ah, the joys of living in a highly conservative state...) I don't know for sure, but if that's true, then Matt and I will need to be pretty much ready to go by 4:30 on Saturday, instead of having until the 7:00 we told everyone. Oh, well. At least, with the party starting at 7, most of the kids will be done by the time the party is in full swing.

I started putting up the decorations yesterday, and still have a few things that will wait until just before the party to put up. We bought the makings for some of the treats I'm going to make - cheesecake brownies and meringue kisses - and I'll need to start working on those on Friday.

Can you tell I'm excited?
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My jack-o-lanternWe made our jack-o-lanterns yesterday. We bought our pumpkins from the grocery store, since we were there anyway, and they had a nice selection. They don't usually leave very much stem on the pumpkins, but these had beautiful twisted-vine tops on them. Mine weighed in at just a little under 20 pounds, and Matt's was so huge that it took the cashier three tries before the scale would actually register the weight - just a hair less than thirty! That's almost fifty pounds of pumpkin!

I'd spent the morning surfing the web for carving patterns. I found several good sites, plus one site with a lot of links and pictures.

Pretty damn good, if I do say so myselfI decided on one of the patterns from HalloweenCarvingKit.Com. This site requires you to register before they give you their free patterns, but the patterns were just fantastic! The one I picked was called "Sleeping Sun" and I thought it was just intricate enough to look really great, but not so hard that I'd give up in frustration after hours of effort!

After carving the pumpkins, I sorted through all the gunk from the insides and roasted the seeds. Yum! There's just something about fresh-roasted pumpkin seeds, still hot from the oven...
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It was a weekend for pictures. We got very silly at the game Saturday night, and took a ton of pictures. I posted most of them in the photo album - go look!

It was a good weekend. I'm anticipating a good week. (I'm going to dress up - sortof - for work on Friday!) Next weekend will be even better! (If for no other reason than that I'll finally get to open the three five-pound bags of candy we got!)
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Afternoon Update! The interview KT and I did for Metajournals is up! Check it out! I'll probably spend some time in the next day or so filling in the bits that didn't get sent to Metajournals, and answering the same questions I asked KT. And if you got here from the Metajournals interview, HI!

Friday, October 22, 1999

22 October 1999

So, um... Does it mean something when you're driving down the interstate at pretty much the speed limit and a hearse passes you?

Just wondering.
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Dream snippets from last night: At one point, all of my toes had been removed and were being replaced with new ones, and someone was telling me, "Once the swelling goes down, you'll hardly be able to tell..." At another, I was walking down this twisting, turning, windy row of cereal boxes, looking for something, or maybe someone.
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There wasn't a MeadeHall session last night, but we had a very interesting conversation. It started because we'd all read K.T.'s journal entry on racism and sexism. It's rather long, so if you don't feel like reading it, her point in a nutshell was that it seems absurd that if one group forms a segregated gathering of some sort, it's a good thing ("empowering") yet another group doing the same thing is bad ("racist" or "sexist").

Discussion ensued when Matt disagreed. His point (in a nutshell - I feel like I should be selecting an animal of some sort) was that if minorities for a group, it's for two primary reasons: 1) that members of a minority feel more at ease with each other than surrounded by members of the majority, and 2) that as a group, minorities have a bigger, better voice, so grouping is the best way to make their minority opinions heard. For a majority group to form an exclusive club would be absurd under these two reasons.

This general discussion morphed into a specific discussion of the Boy Scouts, and the relative merits of the Boy Scouts vs. the Girl Scouts and whether either group should be cross-gendered.

I'm suffering the curse of the moderate. I can see both sides. In an ideal world, everyone would just get along. People would be given jobs or promoted based on their demonstrated abilities and past performances, friends would be made solely on the basis of personality compatibility, and a person's skin color or gender would have meaning only if you were trying to describe them for someone else: "You're picking up the lawyers at the airport. Look for a black woman, fairly tall, and a really tall white man - he usually wears bow ties." In an ideal world, if a club was formed, it would be formed around experiences the members have had, or experiences they want to have, and those would be the only criteria for joining. If that meant that a club formed to discuss cultural heritage, then it would probably lead to a common racial theme - so be it, because in an ideal world, the rest of us would understand that this isn't something we "get" - and we'd ask the club's president to come and speak and help us understand.

But it's not an ideal world, and I don't know what the solution is to make it that way.
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I think I'm really going to enjoy my new project. I had a meeting yesterday with the guy I'll be taking over from, and we get along quite well - we both have the same complaints and demands for the project. I'm going to get about six weeks to come up to speed on this before his new project begins, so I'll get to ease into it, which is a luxury I don't often get in this business. I'll get to learn something new while still using the knowledge I already have, and I'll actually feel useful to the company again.

I'm extremely relieved. I had been beginning to wonder if I was ever going to like my job again.

Thursday, October 21, 1999

21 October 1999

I didn't read yesterday's book yesterday. I read the first twenty-five pages and came to the conclusion that the lead female character was a bit of a slut. (Actually, she hadn't slept with anyone yet, in the book. But by page twenty-five, we had encountered her and four male characters, and she had slept with two of them before the book opened, and was having lustful thoughts about both of the other two.) To see if this trend was going to continue, I opened the book randomly to a point in the middle.

It seems that by this point, a second female character had been introduced - an eco-nazi biologist who had just stripped for the creatures they found living in the upper atmosphere of Saturn, so that they could see what a real human looked like. The creatures were talking to each other in the section I was reading (and they sounded like a stereotypical old Jewish couple in their speech patterns, if you ask me) and one of them commented on the novelty of covering bits of yourself as a decorative measure... And flew off wearing a pair of panties on his claw or horn or something.

I gave up right there. I've been in the mood for some hard sci-fi lately - and this isn't it.
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I had this extremely vivid dream this morning. I'm planning (for real) to go to SheVaCon in February, so that I can meet Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, who have written some of my favorite books, and because I'm on a mailing list dedicated to fans of their series, I'm also looking forward to meeting some of the other "Friends of Liad" as we're called. (Liad is the home planet of the primary family involved in the books.)

In the dream, I was at SheVaCon, standing by a table and talking to various people while watching Steve Miller sign autographs. On a board next to the autograph table was a sign that read: "Clan FoL: Private meeting at..." I don't remember exactly what the sign said, but it was directed at the Friends of Liad. (Liadens divide themselves up by clan, and so we fans have taken to calling ourselves a clan.) At any rate, someone in line said something like, "What's a 'FoL'?" and I said, "Well, I'm one..."

Then, a bit later, I was sitting in the hallway talking to Mycroft, who is one of the list's most frequent posters. On the list, we usually abbreviate his name to Myk (there's a reason, but if you haven't read the books, then it won't make any sense) and I was trying to determine whether "Myk" was pronounced "Mick" or "Mike".

Then I decided to make some brownies. For some reason, they had to be made in a microwave, but my friend Mike P., whom I've known since college, had one and was going to get it. Two things you should know about Mike for the rest of this to make sense: 1) We dated very briefly in college, before he started going out with his now-wife, Katie; and 2) once he starts talking, it's hard to shut him up.

So Mike was supposed to go get me this microwave so I could make these brownies, but he wouldn't shut up and he wasn't going and he wouldn't shut up, and finally, I put my hands on his cheeks and said, "Mike, sweetie, go get the microwave now, okay?" And he went to get it. But then Katie got mad at me for calling her husband "sweetie" and accused me of trying to steal him back, and I was trying to explain that no, I just really wanted to make these brownies... and then my alarm went off.

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

20 October 1999

Okay, for those of you who have been panting to buy me presents, but have no idea what to get, I updated my wishlist yesterday. You've got less than three weeks to get me something for my birthday!
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I finally went to Target yesterday and bought everything Matt and I will need for our Hallowe'en costumes. I've got two costumes planned - we just haven't figured out which one of us will be which, yet. And I think they're both very clever. So there. Now, I just have to actually assemble the things.

I bought shoes, too. I finally found shoes with heels that weren't pointy-toed, so I bought a pair. I'm wearing them today, to test them out. My feet already ache from the unaccustomed position of the heels, but I can wiggle my toes, and that's a good thing!

I was fully expecting Matt to tease me about buying more shoes (he already teases me about having a dozen pairs of shoes) but he seems indifferent, more than anything else. Though he did compliment me on them when I put them on this morning, and teased me a little about the fact that they were heels.
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Wednesday? Is that all? It really feels like it should be at least Thursday. I had planned to go to bed immediately after dinner last night, but decided to try and finish my book, since I was so close to the end. It took me another hour, because I had to keep going back and re-reading parts.

Will someone please tell me what it is about cyberpunk writers that they can't come up with endings that make sense? Don't get me wrong - I love cyperpunk-type books. William Gibson and Neal Stephenson are two of my favorite authors. But neither one of them can finish a novel and have it make anything like sense. I thought Gibson was actually going to do it, this time - most of the characters had gotten together, and an end was in sight... And then something weird happened, and from that point, the rest of the novel was completely without logical thought.
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We were chatting in the car this morning on the way to work, and it turned out that Matt and I had had similar dreams last night - that our pitiful dogwood tree had sprouted leaves. I said, "It's a sign! The tree is really alive!"

Matt said, "Or else its soul finally gave up last night."
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I'm sorry this is so short and disjointed - I just can't think two consecutive thoughts today. It's rainy and dark and I just want to take a nap...

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

19 October 1999: I Haven't Got Time For The Blues

I didn't understand anything.

I wasn't sure what good digitized slides of admittedly beautiful architecture would do in preparing an indoor laser show. I wasn't sure why my dad's friend thought my dad could help him digitize the slides. I wasn't sure why my dad came to me with the problem.

But I do, in fact, have an attachment for my scanner (the technical term is, I believe, a "doo-hickey") which shines light through slides and negatives in order to allow you to scan those things in. So I agreed to help my dad. I'd only played with the doo-hickey once before - trying to scan in some negatives - and not had much luck; the pictures turned out quite dark. But slides are a little thinner than negatives, and aside from paying fifty bucks to a professional studio, I was probably this guy's best hope.

So last night after work, my dad came over to our house. Before he'd arrived, I had attached the doo-hickey (to make sure it worked) and scanned in some negatives, playing with the brightness levels. When Dad came in, I had just managed to scan in an old picture of Matt gleefully clutching a Christmas present under the tree, and it only looked a little fuzzy around the edges. I was feeling confident - it had only taken me about ten scans of the same negative to get the adjustments correct.

I pulled a slide out of the box Dad handed me and slid it under the doo-hickey. After a bit of fidgeting and fussing, it became clear that, in my messing around earlier, I had dramatically increased the levels of blue. Or decreased red and green, but it amounts to the same thing. Everything looked blue. Just to be sure, I unplugged the doohickey and scanned in a CD that was sitting by the desk.

Yup. Blue.

Well, I put it there, of course I can put it back. I fidget some more. And some more. And some more. Tried re-installing the scanner software. By the time an hour had passed, I was getting frustrated and impatient (I hate waiting) and my dad sitting there, patiently waiting and apologizing for making me screw things up, wasn't helping. (I get tense when I'm being watched.) So I called Matt to come and play with it, and went downstairs to be irritable.

Around seven, my dad gave up and went home, though he left the slides with me.

At about seven-fifteen, Matt had fixed the problem. I'm always a little relieved when the problem turns out to be something huge and ugly, because then I don't feel like an idiot for having not seen it right away. This time it turned out to be that the TWAIN drivers had gotten corrupted. Or something - we're not sure, exactly. But it's back and working again, and I spent about an hour scanning in these six slides last night.

Monday, October 18, 1999

18 October 1999

I'm back! I'm back, I'm back, I'm back! Three and a half weeks of hell is over! (Or was it four? They say people being tortured lose their sense of time...)

No, really, it wasn't all that bad. The creep bothered me, the cigarette smell bothered me (most of the people over there smoke, and I could smell it on some of them from up to six feet away), the cold bothered me, the broken and uncomfortable chairs bothered me, and most of all, the lack of privacy bothered me. But other than that, it wasn't too bad.

Did you miss me? No, of course not - I wrote every day, and sometimes it was late, but I didn't miss a single day. That's how much I love you.
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Is it okay if I give up on baseball?

I didn't used to watch any sports at all. It's still not what I'd do, given a choice, but if I walk into the living room and Matt's watching a game, sometimes I'll sit and watch it with him. I'm pretty sure I'm watching completely different things than him, but I get my own enjoyment out of it.

Last night, I walked into the living room, and Matt was watching baseball. Now I have to confess, I never really understood the appeal of baseball - either playing it or watching it. The only times I ever enjoyed playing baseball were my own brief moments at bat. Whiff! Whiff! Whiff! "Go siddown." There is no torture worse than being forced to stand in the outfield, facing into the sun and praying to every god you've ever heard of that they don't hit the ball to you because you completely suck at all actions involving hand-eye coordination and don't want to listen to the jeering in the locker room again. And baseball remains stuck in my mind as the sport that pre-empted or cancelled more favorite TV shows as a kid than any other.

I have been to a game live once, and that was actually fun, but I still didn't understand what was going on. I'd gone with K.T. and her mother and Matt (back when Matt was still dating K.T.) and those three spent the entire eleven innings (yes, it went into overtime, or whatever they call it in baseball) reciting bizarre statistics and guessing whether a certain batter would be walked or whatever. They tried to explain it to me, but the only one that made sense was that it's better to walk a batter who's got a reputation for home runs, because then he only gets to first base and the other guys on base don't all score along with him.

But I sat down to watch this game with Matt. He's been sortof into baseball this year, and I've been very slowly collecting snippets of information by a long, arduous process of pestering the hell out of him during games. I thought I had started to get a basic grip on the game. Not the weird, obscure things, and nothing approaching the strategy of it, but the simple rules. I had been confused for a long time over the rule that a foul counts as a strike unless it would be the third strike, but I'd just chalked that one up to some weird aberration.

Boy, was I wrong.

Understand, the vast majority of my understanding of the rules of baseball comes from playing in gym class in junior high and high school. So this is the sum total of my knowledge of the rules of play: You take turns being in the infield and the outfield. The switch takes place after three outs. You get out by having three strikes at the plate, having your ball caught before it touches the ground, or being tagged with the ball in the outfield. When you hear the crack of the bat, you run hell-bent for the next base - but if it turns out to be a foul, you have to turn around and go back. The game is over when the coach decides you've been tortured enough (though I understand in leagues, you have to keep playing until nine innings have passed and one side has more points than another. Poor league players.)

But this is ten years later, and I've been asking Matt stupid questions for an entire season, now, and I'm feeling pretty savvy. I check the little data icon in the corner of the screen, and manage to figure out all by myself that it's the bottom of the 6th, the bases are loaded, and there are two outs. Not bad, eh? I immediately zoom in on the fact that the pitcher for the Mets is licking his lips a lot. I mean, obsessively. He can't stop. (I told you, I don't notice the same things normal people do.) I name him "Lips" and point the licking out to Matt, who looks at me strangely. Then I try to second-guess how each pitch will be counted. I'm right about half the time - I can't seem to tell the difference between a good curve-ball and a ball, and the balls seem to cross the plate awfully low but I decide it's got more to do with the camera angle than my lack of experience.

CRACK! The player at the plate pops the ball high, and runs. The camera follows the ball up, then down, down... smack! into an outfielder's waiting glove. I spare a brief moment of wonder at the skill, because I can't even catch grounders, much less fly balls. The camera jumps to the batter, who - realizing his ball was caught, is slowing down and veering back toward the dugout to get his glove, because now the inning is over.

I frown at the screen, which has gone to commercial. "They didn't say if there were any runs," I complain.

Matt looks at me. "What? They caught the ball - the guy was out."

"Yeah, but what about the guy on third base?"

Matt patiently repeats himself. "They caught the ball. The inning is over."

As far as I'm concerned, he's talking about something completely different than me. I try again. "Yeah, but they didn't say if the guy who was on third base made it home before they caught the ball."

Matt looks at me like I've grown some extra heads. Apparently, the rule I remember from high school - if the batter hits the ball, run like hell - doesn't hold for professional league play. For the entire seventh inning, he tries to explain this to me, and it eventually - almost - makes sense.

"So... If the batter hits the ball up into the air, no one except him can run until the ball's been caught or hits the ground? Doesn't that mean you could wind up with two guys at first base?" Matt's patience is straining thin. I try again. "Okay, so... If you're already on base, you have to touch your base between when the ball is caught or hits the ground-" "No, not hits the ground - just caught!" I had as difficult a time phrasing my questions as understanding the answers. Why do you have to touch your starting base after the ball is caught, but if it hits the ground, you can just keep going? How do you know if a ball is going to be caught or not? Apparently, these are very basic, simple rules of baseball. I never did get it. I gave up rather than irritate him any more.

I think I'll just go back to watching the player's idiosyncracies, and wondering why baseball uniforms make the players' butts look so huge.

Friday, October 15, 1999

15 October 1999

KT came over last night so we could take our pictures for the Metajournals article. KT suggested posing as if we were actually interviewing, which resulted in most of the pictures actually going to Metajournals (so you'll see those when the article goes up). Matt, on the other hand, wanted to do something silly, so he arranged us in the front yard in a sort of "American Gothic" pose. Only we don't have a pitchfork, so I held our claw-rake, and he had KT look at me quite dubiously. It would've been a cute picture if I hadn't blinked. But we had fun.
Not Quite American Gothic
Liz and KT laughing
Afterwards, we managed to talk KT into staying for dinner. I waffled over what to make for a while - wanting to make something she would like, but which wouldn't screw up my diet for the day, and having gone out to lunch made it difficult.

But I eventually decided on chicken with caramelized onion, which I haven't made in just ages, and she ate all of it and asked for the recipe, so I felt happy.

As I've mentioned before, when we're on the MeadeHall, there's usually a second channel in which we talk about non-Hall-related stuff. Last night, Jeremy showed up to chat, although he doesn't Hall, and the following bit of silliness was sparked when Matt gave Jeremy operator status on the side channel:
*** Matt sets mode: +o Jeremy
<Jeremy> oh, thank you.
<Matt> Pee, you're welcome.
<Liz> Queue up to see the show!
<Matt> Are you sure there's a show?
<Liz> Ess, of course I'm sure!
<Matt> Tea-riffic!
<Jeremy> U are all crazy
<Jeff> no...ewe all are crazy
<Liz> Vee should really get on with things.
<Matt> Double-ewe if you want to really talk about crazy.
<Liz> Ex-capees from the asylum!
<Jeff> EX-cuse me?
<Matt> Why, of course.
<Jeff> Zee for your self.
<Liz> 'Ey! We're busy in 'ere!
<Jeff> Be right back.
<Jeremy> Cee you later
<Liz> Dee-lightful!
<Jeff> E-sy.
<Karen> What's the effin' deal, here? Are you all alphabet mad?
<Matt> Eff you think is crazy, just stick around. We're just getting started.
<Liz> Gee, I was having fun!
<Matt> Aitch-ya getting a little overboard?
<Jeremy> I can't believe we have made it so far!
<Liz> Jay-f helped!
<Matt> Kay-ren's mostly stayed out of it, though.
<Matt> 'Ell if I know why, though.
<Jeremy> em &amp; em's on the brain?
<Liz> Em sure she just wanted to leave some for us amateurs.
<Liz> 'N here we are back to the start again!
<Jeff> En that case...
<Karen> oh, I've been busy...

I love puns...

I was looking at the yard this morning, and noticed that my grape hyacinths have come up! There's no sign of the daffodils, but they're planted deeper in the ground, so I suspect they'll take longer to show up. At least, I hope that's why I haven't seen them yet.

But I'm very excited that the hyacinths are out! (No flowers until springtime, of course, but there are little bunches of green shoots about three inches long in the approximate places that I put hyacinth bulbs!)

Thursday, October 14, 1999

14 October 1999

I am the Queen of Multitasking! At this exact moment, I am testing an application, reading e-mail, downloading a digital ID, talking to KT on AIM, and, of course, writing this entry. I'm so amazing!

I had a bad afternoon. The company's latest reorganization was announced, and I didn't bother attending the announcement because I already knew what my "new" place was going to be. (Really, my job hasn't changed. They just changed who I report to. Big whup.)

But Matt AIM'ed me in the afternoon and mentioned that, of all the people in my new group, I was the only one listed as a "Programmer" rather than a "Senior Programmer"

Now, I've been with this company for three and a half years, and even the guy who started as an intern and has only been with us for one year was listed as a "Senior" so this made me a little irritable. It doesn't help that for the past six months, I've felt like the loser's prize programmer - the one no one really wants on their team, but who has to be put up with. It's not a pleasant suspicion to have.

Anyway, the thought that the title was an indication of my progress in the company (that is, I'm going nowhere) got me very upset. I couldn't sit still, and my hands were shaking like leaves. Heavy adreniline rush.

I managed to ask my supervisor about it, and he said he thought the titles came off of peoples' business cards - and since I haven't had new business cards since I had my name changed a year and a half ago...

I'm still not very happy with it, but I suspect it's the best I'll get. I'll wait and see how this new project goes, and complain again come my review in five months.

And maybe in the meantime I'll start scanning the Technical want ads on Sunday, just to see what kind of openings are out there...

4:00 pm: I was sitting at my desk at 11:55, looking at my lunch and feeling hungry and thinking about calling Matt, and my phone rang. Expecting it to be Matt (we eat lunch together, and it's a toss-up who will call first) I picked up. Our receptionist, Cheryl, gave me a very cheery, "Hello, Liz!"

"Oh! Hi, Cheryl! What can I do for you?" (I like Cheryl. She's a fantastic receptionist.)

"You have guests, Miss Liz."

Guests? I think. What is she talking about? Is Matt being a goof? "I'll be right over, then."

When I arrive in the lobby, my brain takes a few startled seconds to process the information it receives. Seated in the lobby chairs are my friend Jen, who lives four hours away, and her stepmother Kris, who lives an hour away in Richmond! They explain that they had been in the area and decided to drop by and see if we wanted to go with them to lunch. I asked Cheryl to call Matt for me, and that's what we did!

We went to Padow's Deli, which makes lovely sandwiches, and they explained their presence: Jen had come to Richmond to visit her father and Kris, and Kris had decided to come down to Williamsburg to go shopping. Since the shopping where Jen lives is - well, not nonexistant, but pretty pathetic - she agreed to come along. They stopped at the Candle Factory, which is literally next door to our office, and when they were done, Jen had turned the wrong way out of the Candle Factory's parking lot and wound up in ours. At that point, Kris said, "This is where Liz works - let's drop in and say hi." (Kris had come to my office before, to get my measurements for the bridesmaid's dress I wore in Jen's wedding.)

Anyway, it made for a long but lovely lunch, though I'm sure Matt and Kris were a bit disturbed by Jen and I rambling on about people we knew (whimper) fourteen years ago...

Okay, I'm sorry I didn't get this up even close to on time today! I started writing it in the morning, but was kept busy all day. Starting Monday I should be back at my desk and posting in the morning. Really. Hopefully.

A question for my loyal readers: You know the sample sentence that appears in the box on the main journal entry page? Would it be cool or awful if I put a similar sentence in the status bar in the journal archives? The archives page is too big for a box, but I thought it would be nice to have some indication of what an entry was going to be about... I like being able to see precise paths when I point to a link, and it usually annoys me when people but cute crap in the status bar - but on an archives page, I don't think it would be as annoying. Or would it? If you have an opinion one way or another, let me know!

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

13 October 1999

This morning as we were leaving for work, I came down the steps from our porch and saw a smallish blue flower adorning our front yard. "Look! A flower!" I said. "I must take a picture!"

So while Matt went down to the car and started wiping the dew off the windows, I put down all my stuff and hauled my camera out of my bag and took a picture of the flower in our front yard. Pretty little thing, isn't it? Can anyone tell what it is? It looks sortof like a morning glory, but I didn't see a vine.

The picture of the flower filled up the disk in my camera, so when I got to work and was copying the picture to put here, I fished a fresh disk out of my bag, and got a surprise.

You have to understand, I keep about half a dozen floppy disks in my briefcase. When I fill up a disk with pictures, I put a label on the disk with the dates of the pictures. Eventually, I will move all the pictures onto a Zip disk or CD-ROM or something, but in the meantime, they're on the disks.

I pulled one of the disks out and checked for a label. No label, so I assumed it was unused and stuck it in my camera, then turned the camera on just to check.

Hey! That's a picture of Karen! Where did this come from? And this! This is a picture of Braz!

I'd found the lost pictures from the moving party before the move! So go check the moving party album for the new pictures!

In an unprecedented leap of boldness and daring, I've actually been told what my next project will be at work! And been given starting materials! Someone help me; I feel faint...

According to the e-mail I was sent, I am destined to become the "Commercial Products/Solutions" InstallShield/AutoPlay/Build Queen. Which is to say I'm going to be the one who creates installation disks and sets up the AutoPlay scripts for my department. (That would be the "Commercial Products/Solutions" department.)

Don't look at me like that - it is too programming - some of these installation scripts are more involved than the programs they're installing!

And how often do you get told that you're going to become a Queen, I ask you that!

Anyway, all silliness aside, this is probably the first time ever that I've known what my next project will be before I've finished with the current one. This is certainly the first time I've been given any starting materials in advance - Bruce, the current King of Installations, brought me three books to read this morning!

I had a minor scare yesterday evening. I got home and sorted through the mail, and saw an envelope from our mortgage company. I opened it up and saw a monthly payment statment, which was all good and well, but it was dated September 7th, and it said at the bottom, "Your next payment is due: October 1. If we do not receive payment by October 16, you will be charged a late fee."

ACK! I have to get this in the mail tonight! Wait! We already paid our October mortgage! We even got a statement for it! What the... Do I have to.. We don't... ACK!

So I called the bank and spent about ten minutes on hold, and finally talked to someone who checked our account and assured me that no, they're not expecting any money from us again until the first of November.

I eventually figured out that what had probably happened was that this statement had been delivered toward the beginning of September, before we got around to putting up our mailbox. Without a mailbox, it had been bounced back to the bank, and had only now completed its return trip.

Tuesday, October 12, 1999

12 October 1999

I usually read all the journals that I read every day after I've written my journal entry, because otherwise I am tempted to talk about the things that I read about. And while that's not an intrinsically bad thing, after a while I start feeling like copycat and a leech and we get into this whole lack-of-creativity discussion again, and that's a bad thing.

But since I'm still in testing (four more days) and I decided this week not to try to write my journal article in a hurry every morning, I'm going to accept that sometimes it's OK, and talk about what Matt talked about. Sortof.

I mostly like the Macintosh operating system. Matt tells people that I don't like the fact that the menu bar for any given window is at the top, but that's actually just something that I bring up when Mac-fanatics insist that the Mac OS is completely intuitive, as an example of how it's actually sortof confusing occasionally.

There are actually a couple of things that I like better in Windows - the fact that you can resize a window from any edge of the frame, for instance. To explain why I like this, I'll give you an example from last night - I was using Matt's Mac to Hall. Now, when we're on the Hall, there's usually two channels open at any given time - the Hall itself, and a side channel where we talk out of character. When I'm Halling from my PC, I use mIRC, and generally tile the two windows side-by-side, with a space at the bottom for private messageboxes and notify lists and stuff like that. On the Mac, this is what I did - I dragged one channel over to the left, and one to the right (just like I do in mIRC), but they overlapped. In order to shrink the left-hand box, I had to resize it, and then re-drag it back all the way to the left - and then check to see if I'd resized enough. (For those of you who have never used a Mac, imagine you can only re-size windows by using the bottom left corner.)

Now, I know this is hardly an earth-shattering problem. But it's one example of something I actually like better in Windows, and since Mac-fans tend to be so fanatical about the Mac OS, I like to keep around a few examples of things I dislike about it to shut them up when they start proselytizing at me. (I also dislike the fact that I can't tell at a glance which window or application is currently active if I don't have the application's icons memorized, but Jeremy tells me that the new OS is going to at least tell which application is current opposite the menu.) And I like Windows' Tool Tips. Macintosh relies heavily on icons, and if you don't already know what application an icon belongs to, then the only way to figure it out is to run it - which may not be what you want to do! I'd rather be able to hover the mouse over it and see a text popup. And, I confess, I'm addicted to my wheel-mouse.

But as I said, I mostly like the Mac OS, and it's certainly more stable and better-written than Windows! And I've considered, on multiple occasions, switching to Mac for my next computer. I didn't with my latest computer because I thought I might be programming at home from time to time, and even the most loyal Mac fanatic will tell you that there's a huge world of difference between programming for Windows and programming for a Mac. But all I do with my home computer is Internet stuff (e-mail, surfing, posting my own page) and games and the occasional printout of a recipe card or letter or something. I use it to write and keep track of my finances. And I can do any of those things equally well on a Mac system, so I'm back to contemplating a Mac for my next computer.

I have plenty of time to contemplate; it'll be a couple of years at least before I need a new computer. (And "need" is pretty relative in any case.) There are some downsides to consider. Macs are traditionally much more expensive than PCs, though Mac-fanatics will insist that if you spend the same on a Mac as on a PC, you're getting the same performance, even if the flat numbers don't look as impressive. (I have yet to really believe this.) But the iMac has all the power I need for a home computer, and even after the peripherals I'd insist on (that keyboard badly wants replacing with a full-size board, and the mouse is sized for ten-year-olds) it's still priced favorably against PCs.

But there are some hidden costs. Forget about all the free software my friends gave me, as Matt suggests. I would still have to replace the software that I paid for already, whereas if I got another PC, I could just re-install it. And some of it can't be replaced. It took me five years to find a calendar program I really liked. It is, of course, not available for the Mac. mIRC, which is the best IRC program I've ever seen, is not available for the Mac. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain that the HTML editor I use (a text editor for HTML code, rather than a graphical editor, thankyouverymuch) is also PC-only. My printer is, I believe, not compatible with the Mac OS. Same thing with my scanner.

That's why I'm hesitating as I consider switching over. What pirated stuff do I have that I'd lose? (Well, I'm not telling you, but lemme think about it a bit...) Not all that much, really. Just a couple of shareware programs that haven't been registered because I think the registration fees are ridiculously high. (When I got a real job, I started registering all the shareware that I actually use.) But when I think about all the money that I spent on software that I'd have to spend again... That adds up, and fast.

A PC box with a Linux partition, though... Now that's tempting.

Okay, just so you don't think I'm copy-catting next week - KT says she's going to answer in her journal today the questions she asked me for our Metajournals interview. (Was that confusing? We're interviewing each other for Metajournals. She sent me a list of questions to answer, but she's going to answer them for herself as a journal entry.) I'd actually already had that idea for myself, but was going to save them until after the Metajournals article went up.

So even though it looks like it, I'm not copying KT! We just think alike a lot of the time. So there.

Monday, October 11, 1999

11 October 1999

This is the last week I'll be in the test lab. I'll keep telling myself that when the creep tries to strike up conversations with me or the smokers lean over me fresh from their smoke breaks and make my eyes water and I'm huddling under my jacket because it's freezing in the lab...

Last week. Next Monday I'll be at my own desk all day. I may insist on eating at my desk, in celebration.

I'd like to say I had a good weekend. Looking back on it, it seems like I did - got together with KT, and eventually Carl and Colleen, on Friday, and laughed a lot. (I took pictures. Check out the photo album!) Saturday we lazed around most of the day, then went back over to KT's to game and watch The Matrix on DVD. Sunday was spent being lazy and reading.

Sounds like a good weekend. But I don't really feel like it was a good weekend. For one thing, I spent most of Friday fighting with allergies. Back in March or so, I took this cold medicine that kept me up all night, and I wound up scaring Matt by deciding to go to work at 3AM or something. I took that before we went to KT's, figuring that I didn't really need to be especially rational to sit around and talk or watch a movie (the screening of Matrix was supposed to be on Friday, but got postponed). So, naturally, the stuff knocked me out. Driving home, my vision kept blurring and doubling and I kept chanting the distance to go in the back of my head. I couldn't even sing along with the radio, which is what I usually do to try to stay awake driving. If Matt had had any idea of how hard it was for me to keep my eyes open, he'd probably have insisted that we stop at my parents' house for the night. If I hadn't known that my aunt and uncle and another couple who are friends of theirs were already staying at my parents' so they could go to the PGA Kingsmill golf tournament, I might have suggested it myself.

The only other time I've driven in that condition was my one and only experience with driving drunk - and that had only been a 1/2 mile trip down a side road home from a party when I was in college.

Then, Saturday evening, I had to do something I absolutely hate doing - I had to ask KT to clean out her litter box. I had hoped that the smell was getting to me on Friday because the decongestants were making my sense of smell a little overacute (which happens sometimes). But no. I walked in on Saturday, took two breaths normally, and then was smacked in the face.

KT's place almost always smells a bit like cat piss. I want to make it clear here that I'm not blaming KT for this. The younger of her two cats, Sandi, lost about half of her litterbox training when her legs were broken, and both of her cats pee on the floor when they want to show their displeasure. I have a cat who does that as well, so I know how futile it is to try to train them out of it - you punish them, and they just punish you right back by peeing on the floor some more. It's a terrible circle. But Diamond has had the decency so far to pee on things on the floor, rather than the floor itself. It's irritating, but you can toss laundry and throw rugs in the washer. Sandi and Bear pee on the floor direct, and that's a lot harder to clean. So there's almost always this faint smell in the air. Most of the time, I wrinkle my nose a bit and breathe a little shallow for about half an hour, and then I acclimate.

I didn't acclimate Friday night, and after only five minutes on Saturday my eyes were starting to tear up. It was like breathing into a bucket of bleach. I thought about keeping my mouth shut anyway. I hate telling someone that their place, or any part of their place, isn't "clean enough" for me. It makes me feel like some sort of inspector-general or overly-picky mother-in-law.

But I didn't think I could stay in there, as strong as it was. So I asked her to clean it out. I offered to do it myself, and did help carry the full trashbag down to the dumpster for her (and threw up a bit on my way back).

She asked me to go with her to the grocery store, and I agreed. Wizard makes some air fresheners that do a very good job of cleaning pet smells out of the air and carpet (at least, they work well for us), so I thought I'd pick one up. KT told me that Kevin is allergic to those fake scents, so I promised I wouldn't use it until after he'd gone back to work after his dinner, and just to be safe, I picked up one that said it was unscented.

Wow. For an unscented spray, it sure smelled awful. I'd have done better to get a scented one. It was so bad, I didn't spray it around as much as I'd have liked to, and wound up still smelling the piss in the carpet (I think one of the cats have peed behind the couch where I usually sit, actually) for the rest of the night anyway. It wasn't as strong - cleaning the litterbox had helped enormously - but I still felt like an ogre for having to ask KT to clean it.

When KT and I got back from the grocery store, Richard had called to beg someone to come pick him up. Since Kevin had just gotten home to have dinner and would have to go back to work in fifteen minutes, KT couldn't use her car to do it (they have just the one car). Since Greg was still there, obviously he wasn't going to do it. So I "volunteered". Not that I mind too much; I like Richard a lot, and enjoy talking to him. So I drove over to his place - a fifteen minute drive or so - to pick him up.

When I got back, we started talking about getting some dinner. I asked, "So, who's going to drive?" (Read: HINT! I've been out twice already, so I think it's someone else's turn!) KT looked at me, surprised: "You are!"

I explained that five people wouldn't fit in my car. KT thought that I could just go pick up food for everyone. (I hate doing this, because when the stupid fast food people screw up someone's order, it's my fault.) I said I certainly wasn't going to go by myself, and Richard offered to come along to help. Sigh.

So we took orders, and Richard and I went to the McDonald's and picked up dinner for everyone, including making sure that Greg got his fussy wedges of lemon, and KT's Arch Deluxe didn't have bacon. (I asked three times, "That Deluxe is without bacon, right?" because when the cashier had called it back, no one at the grill acknowledged it. I was still figuring KT would have to grumble and pick bacon off her sandwich when she got it.) We got a tray to balance the five drinks, and I helped Richard get in and out of the car with the tray and three bags of food.

We got home and astonishingly, KT's Arch Deluxe was sans bacon. It was also sans lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese. She grumbled and asked me to get a slice of cheese from her refrigerator.

Eventually, Colleen and Carl showed up with Colleen's cousin in tow, and then Colleen and the cousin left again, and we gamed for a while. Around 11, I suggested that we stop gaming and watch The Matrix, which I'd been wanting to see since KT had picked it up the night before.

That was a blast, and I took a couple of pictures of Carl's eyes bugging out, and Colleen and her cousin came back so we had to show them the lobby destruction scene. Of course, that close to the end of the movie, Colleen and her cousin were pretty confused about what was going on (I don't blame them - It's a pretty confusing damn plot) but we had fun anyway.

It ended (after the various replays) around 2 in the morning. Now, Carl is Richard's roommate, so I thought Richard would catch a ride home with Carl and Colleen. But Colleen whined and complained and said she was going to her place in Williamsburg, not back to Richard and Carl's (which is the other direction).

Um... Where the hell did she think I was going? But I took Richard back home anyway.

Not one person bothered to say thank you for one thing I did for them. No "Thanks for keeping me company," no "Thanks for picking me up and dropping me off," and no "Thanks for picking up the food." I don't know whether Greg and Matt got thanked for picking Kevin up from work for dinner. Sometimes I wonder.

Right. So. Sunday morning I was a little short on sleep, so I spent the whole day being alternately supremely lazy and grumpy. Matt and I had an argument over whether it was worth our time to put down any more grass seed. He got into a foul mood because it started raining just before he'd been planning on mowing the lawn. I got irritable at him at one point because we said we'd go to the grocery store as soon as he checked his e-mail and after forty-five minutes I discovered he'd gotten into an AIM chat with KT and forgotten about the store. Getting into the car, my door swung shut on my and banged into my arm. It was more surprising than painful, but still irritating. Backing out of the driveway, the car hiccupped, and it was like every minor irritation for the whole last month just sortof swelled up and exploded into a gigantic mess in my brain. What I wanted to do was shriek like a fishwife, throw something breakable and hugely expensive for the satisfaction of watching it smash into a million pieces, get into a no-holds-barred fight so I could punch and kick and bite and claw and hurt someone. But the last tiny corner of my brain that remained logical insisted that it would be bad form to start gnawing on my husband without any warning, so instead I revved my car's motor like I was lining up at the speedway, then raced down the street at an entirely unsafe speed until Matt recovered from his shock enough to yell at me.

I snapped at him in the grocery store, but knew that it wasn't his fault, so it didn't help. My mood didn't really improve, though I pretended it had for Matt's sake. This morning, he gave me a hug while I was brushing my teeth and my hair spilled over my shoulder and I managed to spit toothpaste all over it, and I yelled at him for hugging me, which just made me feel guilty, because it wasn't his fault, and it wasn't catharsis enough.

I'm still feeling prickly and irritable and grouchy. Stupid idiot things are setting off red flags in my brain, and I'm holding onto control with fingernails that are slowly ripping away from my fingers. I'm at work, and so I'm smiling with a face that isn't mine and asking people how their weekends were, and answering their return queries with a cheerful, "Oh, not bad..." when what I'd really like to do is fly into their faces screaming and clawing and biting...

I'm hoping it's a lack of sleep. Or a hormonal thing, though it's nowhere near PMS time. Or added frustration from being stuck in testing for the past two and a half weeks, testing a product I'd never use myself.

Whatever it is, I'm hoping I recover soon.

Friday, October 8, 1999

8 October 1999

I went shopping for Hallowe'en decorations last night. I got streamers and plates and napkins and a tablecloth and stickers and socks and... Lots of stuff. I even stayed away from the nicer things, and it's really quite astonishing how much money you can spend without even thinking about it! This morning, I dug out all the Hallowe'en decorations I already had from previous years, and I think we've got enough, except that we'll need to get plastic cups for the party, and we haven't even started on our costumes yet.

Well, you know me - I'm always one to jump on a bandwagon, and I adore silly surveys, so when I saw in Stitches in Time that the Man @bout Murfreesboro had posted a new survey, you know I had to answer it! So here goes...

1. Would you take the fall for a crime committed by a sibling or parent?
I doubt it. I'm probably the least morally upright member of my family. (My brother went through a brief phase of stealing when he was in high school, but he's over that now.)

2. What's your favorite picnic food?
I guess it depends on what kind of picnic you're talking about. If you're talking about the potluck company or church picnic, then my favorite food is sweet baked beans with bacon in them. If you're talking about a family outing to the park, then it's watermelon.

3. What television show did you like that got canceled way too soon?
I can't even remember the name. Chicago Sons or something like that... It was about three brothers living in the Chicago area. One of them was about college age, and couldn't get dates. One was a couple of years out of college and worked for an architectural firm, and had this nice sexual tension thing going with his officemate/partner. The third was in his thirties or so and had recently separated from his wife. Anyone who can remember the name, let me know because it's driving me crazy.

4. Ever get caught picking your nose?
Not since I was in first grade. At least, not that I've been called on. That's what bathrooms are for!

5. By which school picture are you most embarrassed?
Tenth grade. I'd just decided to let my short hair grow long, and it had just gotten long enough to look nasty straight, so I'd had it permed. The perm fried the ends of my hair. It was awful. I didn't get another perm until after college. (That one simply burnt off all the soft hair at the nape of my neck. I've never had an other - I'm simply doomed to straight hair.)

6. What was your first computer?
MY first computer was a Compudyne 486/33 with a whopping 8M of RAM and an astonishing 200M harddrive. The first computer I ever used was a Tandy TRS-80 Model II. That was my dad's toy. It was fully loaded - a whole 64k of RAM, and two, count them, two! - 8" disk drives.

7. What are you completely and irrationally stubborn about?
Oh, lots of things. Once I start getting stubborn, it's usually fairly irrational.

8. You're offered the political appointment of your choosing. What job do you take?
Hmm. That's a tough one. People like to blame all sorts of things on politicians that the politicians actually have very little control over. I think maybe I'd like to be a Supreme Court Justice. Either that, or an ambassador to a small, politically unimportant, but very rich country.

9. How would you like to die?
Well, leaving off the obvious answer of "not at all"... I'd have to say I'd like to die of extreme old age, in my own bed, at the exact same moment that my extremely aged husband dies next to me.

10. You get to plan your own funeral. Who speaks? Who sings? How do you get sent off?
I want to be cremated after any working organs are donated to living people who can use them. I want to have two different services. I want a funeral (or memorial) at which all my family and acquaintances are weepy and depressed and mourning (anyone who says they don't want their family and friends to mourn them is a BIG FAT LIAR!) and then I want there to be a wake which starts off kindof subdued and quiet and gradually turns into a great huge party where everyone remembers how I was when I was alive and laughs and tells stories and... You know - catharsis.

11. You and a date finish an expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant and discover the waiter has charged you for only one lobster. Do you a) point out the mistake. b) keep quiet and leave a huge tip. c) quickly pay the tab and leave.
We pay the tab at normal speed and then leave, because I don't like seafood, so there will never be more than one lobster on the tab during a dinner for two.

12. To whom are you most likely to lend money? a relative, a friend, a business partner, or the author of this survey.
Hmm. Leaving out the author of the survey (hahaha), I'd have to say a relative - but only certain relatives actually qualify...

13. Ever changed your website just so you could join a ring?
Oh, of course I have. Everyone who's ever joined a ring has changed their website for it - after all, you have to put the ring's links up! But I've never changed content or look and feel for a ring.

14. Ever written on a special topic, just so you could qualify for a web award?
Hmm... I don't think so. Though I'm about to do a special interview, just so I can get my link on Metajournals.

15. Ever submitted your own site for a web award?
Nope. Who would have me?

16. Ever offered a web award of your own conception?
Nope. There are too many web awards floating around as it is.

17. What's your favorite flavor of toaster pastry?
Depends on the brand of pastry. I like frosted strawberry or WildBerry PopTarts, and strawberry and cream cheese Toaster Strudels. (Yeah, I know, I could've just answered strawberry and be done with it, but what if someone wanted to bribe me with toaster pastries? How would they know exactly what to send, I ask you! Oh, and by the way, all you potential bribers - I like Toaster Strudels way more than I like PopTarts.)

18. Ever paid one credit card with another one?

19. Ever been hoopsnaked by a home equity loan ad?
Um... What's "hoopsnaked" mean? But since I've only been living in an actual house of my (our) own for six weeks, we're hardly looking at equity loans anyway.

20. To what magazines do you currently subscribe?
Let's see... Mode, Discover (a gift from my mother-in-law), Time, Cooking Light, and Better Homes and Gardens. Also, I usually flip through Matt's Dragon magazine.

21. What's your guilty pleasure?
Food, beyond any shadow of doubt. The stuff I hide is more weird than truly guilty - I like to eat things that are meant to be combined with water without adding the water: boullion and soup mix, hot chocolate powder, like that.

22. What do you do that you do not enjoy simply for appearance sake?
Suffer fools, and pretend that I think babies are adorable.

23. Have you ever taken out a singles ad?
Nope, but I've read them for the humor value.

24. Have you ever lied in a singles ad?
Only because my previous answer was no.

25. When was the last time you bounced a check?
I have never bounced a check, though I once cashed a check that later bounced and royally screwed up my arithmetic.

26. Have you ever camped out for concert tickets? If so, for which concert?
No, but I've given friends money so that as long as they were camping out anyway, they could pick up tickets for me. (Don't look at me like that! It wasn't really camping out - it was just a few hours! For Star Wars: The Phantom Menace tickets!)

27. What's the most embarrassing name ever given to you by a significant other?
"That Bitch." Oh, you mean during the relationship...

28. Ever played truth or dare in an effort to get into someone's pants?
No, but I did play truth or dare in order to get someone to kiss me. (Gimme a break, I was twelve!)

29. Did you have sex in high school?
Yes. I had sex for the first time shortly before the beginning of my senior year. I was 16. I tried to keep it secret from most of my friends, but I'm pretty sure they all guessed.

30. What's your favorite drinking game?
I like reading the rules for movie drinking games. ("Drink every time Luke whines. Drink anytime someone says 'I have a bad feeling about this.' or a paraphrase thereof.") The last drinking game I played was called "I Never..." - but we were playing it with water in order to stave off our hangovers after we were already drunk.

31. What bad habit do you have that no one is supposed to know about?
Well, no one is supposed to know that I'm actually a mad genius supervillian, but of course I'm sure everyone is just being polite and pretending they don't know.

32. Are you completely honest in situations where your name isn't used?
Sometimes. It depends on the situation, of course.

33. Ever urinated in public?
If by "public" you mean "where other people can see me while I do it" then the answer is, not since I graduated from diapers to underpants.

34. Which celebrity would you most like to see drop off the face of the Earth?
Ooh, that's a tough one. Um... Any rock star who thinks it's cool to use a Z instead of an S. Alternatively, I'd like to threaten Adam Sandler with dropping off the face of the Earth until he stops making idiot movies and goes back to moderately amusing CDs.

35. Which celebrity would you most like to bring back from the dead?
Chris Farley - but only so I can kill him myself. He was really awful.

36. If you found out who really killed JFK, who would you tell first?
My husband. Closely followed by my best friend. Duh.

37. What's your favorite comic strip?
It varies. I like Kevin and Kell and Sluggy Freelance and ... Oh, just lots of them.

38. What was the last thing you purchased at Wal-hyphen-Mart? When was that?
I'm not sure. Wal-Mart and K-Mart and Target are all pretty much the same store to me, and I've shopped at all three, though K-Mart and Target are more convenient for me.

39. If you were afforded the opportunity to sleep with one of your friends, who would it be?
My husband, of course. (Yeah, I know, you mean aside from him. I know the answer to that question, too, but you don't think I'm going to post it here, where my husband will read it, do you?)

40. To what superstition do you most adhere?
That gaming dice are not subject to statistical probability. I believe most of them can be "trained" and that some of them are bad eggs while always roll "bad".

41. Elevators or escalators?
Given a choice, in order of preference, I'll take: 1) an escalator, 2) an elevator with a glass front (only up to about 5 stories, though), or 3) a regular elevator.

42. How many justices of the U.S. Supreme Court can you name? No cheating (there are nine).
Um... Scalia, um... (I had Thurgood Marshall listed until Matt reminded me that he's dead...), um... Okay, I'm pathetic when it comes to knowledge of current events, especially where the government is concerned. It irritates Matt to no end.

43. What is the name of your congressman? (or similar government representative for those living outside the US and not in some fascist country that doesn't have a representational government).
Herb Bateman, I think. Or did he finally retire after being in Congress for only four thousand years?

44. What are you a big old geek about?
Oooh, lots of things.

45. Who makes you laugh?
Most of my friends can make me laugh, but my number one reason (if I had to pick only one) for marrying my husband is his sense of humor.

46. Have you ever been in a band? If so, what was it called?
I wanted to be, but my singing is only slightly more pleasant than, say, fingernails on a chalkboard, and I don't play any instruments well enough to qualify.

47. Herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore?
Is there such a thing as a chocolativore or a chipivore? No? Oh, all right, omnivore, then. I like my steak WITH a baked potato and sauteed onions and a big salad with plenty of tomatoes!

48. When playing tic tac toe, which square do you always fill in first? Do you prefer "X" or "O"?
X. One of the corners, but I don't care which one.

49. Does the time 4:20 have any significance for you?
Of course it does! 4:20 is when I only have ten more minutes before I can leave work!

50. What was the biggest prize you ever won?
Um... I won a photo album as a door prize at a baby shower a few weeks ago...

Just to share: This morning our radio DJs read the news, and among the news items was this little gem - A woman called 911 and said there was a man in her house trying to kill her, and then disappeared. Police assisted her very worried husband in looking for her until the husband broke down and confessed that she'd gone missing on purpose in order to avoid having to go to traffic court for doing 101 in a 55 zone.

Thursday, October 7, 1999

7 October 1999

Things to do, things to do. I should think about how I want to decorate the house for Hallowe'en, and what food and drink we're going to provide at the Hallowe'en party, and whether to do extra decorating for the party. I should make a list of chores to be done in and around the house. I need to come up with a list of questions to ask K.T. - we're participating in a Metajournals topic wherein journallers interview each other. (Yes, of course I'll let you know when it's been posted.) A guy I work with gave me his novel to read, so I should do that.

I was feeling pretty good yesterday morning, but around lunchtime, the tendon in my upper inner thigh started to ache from the abuse it received bowling. (No one else I know ever complains about an ache in that spot from bowling, but I get it every time. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, though.) It got worse and worse slowly during the afternoon, and last night every time I turned over I woke up from the pain. Damn it, I had honestly intended to go to the gym today, but I can barely walk this morning! Well, I took a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory, so hopefully that will help.

I have a dentist appointment this morning. Just a basic cleaning, don't worry. The appointment isn't until 9:40, and since the dentist's office is right next door, I won't need to leave the office until 9:30. But I'm using it as an excuse not to go over to the testing lab until late. I feel sortof guilty about it, and yet - to be able to spend an hour at my own desk, not too guilty.

Absolutely, I agree, this is a lame entry. I have a moderately lame life, and I like it that way, to be honest. Do you really want me to tell you about the new computer game I bought and spent most of yesterday evening playing? No, I didn't think so.

I know, you're looking for something a little deeper. Self-inspection, self-analysis, heavy emotional content. But it's hard to be introspective this early in the morning, sitting at my office desk, and anyway, my emotions are running comfortably shallow at the moment. I'm not torturing myself over anything, not worried about anyone, not madly and secretly in love. (I'm madly and openly in love, but no one wants to read about how much I adore my husband, except perhaps my husband, and maybe not even him.)

At the very least, I could try to be funny. But I'm not funny in writing. Not very often. I make funny faces - ask any of my friends - and I've been known to pun, but I don't write humorously. That's hard. Sometimes I try, but I never know whether I'm succeeding. I thought I'd done a great job with the spider story but no one said whether they agreed with me. (I didn't really expect you to - I don't write pamie every time she makes me giggle, after all.)

Ah, well. A lame entry. It's happened before, it'll happen again. When you post on a regular, scheduled basis, you have to expect these things. Now, since I forgot my breakfast this morning, I'm going to go in search of food.