Friday, April 28, 2000

28 April 2000

All right. Here's the deal. I don't have much to talk about today; I spent most of yesterday playing games, surfing, and watching videos. And sending happy-thoughts out to Mike, who collapsed Wednesday night during dinner from vasovagal syncope (which is to say, his blood pressure suddenly dropped to almost nothing).

So I'm going to give you some links and send you out to play.

Since you're here to read a journal, go check out some of the journals I read, if they're not already on your list.

Sluggy Freelance is a great online comic, though it's serial - don't try just jumping into the middle of it. It's got good navigation; go to the beginning and start to read there. While I'm hyping online comics, Kevin & Kell is good - though once again, I recommend starting at the beginning!

The Healing Power of Obnoxiousness is a site of works written by Paul T. Riddell, primarily dealing with the science-fiction community and movies. He's acerbic and nasty and, well, obnoxious. But funny as hell, if you like that kind of thing.

Kris Brandt just put together her own website, and it's pretty darn good!

You'll need the Flash plugin for this one, but if you like Mah-jongg solitare, this is a fantastic site.

And, for sheer comedy, though I'm sure everyone already knows about these, don't neglect The Brunching Shuttlecocks or The Cruel Site of the Day.

Sorry, gang. I'll be ready to babble again on Monday. Or maybe I'll feel like writing later this afternoon, in which case I'll notify the notify list.

Word of the Day: beau geste - A graceful, magnanimous, or conciliatory gesture

French is just wrong.

Granted, my poor attitude comes from a terrible childhood experience, but I like to think that even without that, I'd feel strongly about the disgusting American penchant for dropping foreign phrases into perfectly normal speech. English isn't good enough for you? Does it really get your point across better to say je ne sais quoi than something indescribable? Or ciao instead of goodbye? (Do you know what the direct translation of ciao is? Look it up; it's interesting.)

Maybe I shouldn't complain. This is as close to knowing a foreign language as most Americans (myself included, since I've forgotten most of the German I took) ever get.

But French is still wrong.

Afternoon update: Okay, I am compelled to update. Becky and I, deciding that work sucks (not that this is a new revelation, merely a sudden re-realization for us), went out to lunch. We went to a little sandwich and grill place not far from our office, where we each had a basic non-alcoholic drink, I had an appetizer, and Becky had the sandwich special.

Our lunch was pretty good, though we spent most of it eavesdropping on the table next to ours and trying to figure out what percentage of the girl's income later in life was going to be devoted to therapy, because her mother wouldn't stop telling everyone else at the table about her weird eating habits. Anyway, the waiter brought us the check, we dug in our wallets for tips, and took the check to the cash register to ask them to break it up.

Becky, who had possession of the check, looked down and realized that she'd been charged almost $9 for her sandwich. That seemed a little outrageous to both of us, so she looked at the specials board when we walked by, and sure enough - it should have been $6. (Well, $5.95, but I'm sure you'll excuse me for rounding things off. There's a shortage of decimal points this season.) When we got to the cash register, Becky pointed this out to the cashier, who looked confused for a moment, then said, "Oh, they must have forgotten to change it from yesterday," and took our check off to fix it. (Why she couldn't fix it at the cash register, I have no idea.) "And we need to split it up!" we yelled after her. (Well, we didn't yell. We raised our voices a bit, but "we raised our voices after her" just sounds dumb.)

Eventually, she came back. As near as I could tell by looking at it, she had neither re-rung the check, nor made any notes as to the new price. "How are you splitting this up?" she asked.

Becky said, "I had the sandwich and a drink." The girl punched some numbers into the calculator by the cash register and eventually came up with a number somewhere around $7.50. Then she looked at me. "You had the chicken sticks?" I nodded. She punched some more numbers into the calculator and came up with a number around $8.50.

I don't usually inflict math on my readers, but I'm pretty sure you can all follow this one: My chicken sticks were $4.50, while Becky's sandwich was $6. Given that our drinks were the same price, my meal should have come to:
     a) less than Becky's,
     b) more than Becky's, or
     c) the same as Becky's?

The girl frowned down at the numbers on her sheet, then said, "I'll just take a dollar off each." Then, despite the fact that I'd clearly seen her writing down the number for Becky's first, and mine second, she charged me for the smaller of the two amounts.

As I told Becky, it's not that the difference of a dollar really mattered that much to me - I just wanted it to make sense. If she was just going to charge us random amounts of money, why bother with the calculator?

Thursday, April 27, 2000

27 April 2000

Well, I just got back from the dentist. (Yes, for you early-morning checkers; that's why I'm late.) The good news was the hygienist saying, "Whatever you're doing at home, keep it up!" The bad news is that, even though I don't have any cavities, I still have to go back for two fillings. One of my older fillings is getting, well, old, and needs to be replaced; and one of my newer fillings apparently has a crack and has to be repaired.

Because the filling with the crack is less than five years old and was put in by this same office, they're not going to charge me for the repair. But, naturally enough, the two fillings are on opposite quadrants of my mouth (upper right and lower left) and so I'll be spending an evening with most of my face numb. Joy. Oh, well. At least, since these aren't new cavities, they won't be using the drill as much.

The cracked filling must have just happened in the last day or so - maybe even in the past few hours - because I haven't felt anything wrong with the area. But now the tooth is throbbing, and I can feel the crack with my tongue (and of course, I can't stop playing with it). How long until they fix it?

You know what the great thing about the Internet is? The people. Seriously. After yesterday's worry about navigating the Metro, I got home and found an e-mail waiting for me from a reader I didn't even know I had, who used to live in D.C. and offering to help me out. How great is that? (I'll get around to answering that mail soon. Really. I mean it.)

Last night I finished the book I've been reading, Spider Robinson's Callahan Chronicles, which is actually a collection of three books, each of which is actually a collection of related short stories. In the first section, the stories are all only loosely related to one another, but by the end, each story builds on the last so that - while each story stands alone - there is a definite plot thread tying them all together.

I was, to say the least, rather impressed. If you like science fiction stories at all, I recommend this book. Especially if you like puns.

And as an added bonus, there was a riddle game in the third section that gave me a great idea for what to do the next time I decide to use puzzles in my AD&D game.

Word of the Day: antithetical - being in direct and unequivical opposition

I oppose any number of things, but it's hard for me to do so unequivically. I've always been a mediator, and I've always prided myself on the fact that I try very hard to see all possible sides of an issue. So even in my most strongly-held opinions, I can usually see why the other side feels the way they do.

But after several moments of wracking my brain, I've come up with several things to which I am antithetically opposed:

- Rape. I can better sympathize with murder than violation. I'm sure a psychoanalyst would have a field day with that.

- My company's status reports. As far as I can tell, they serve no actual purpose. (I'm not against all status reports - I can see where, properly used, they might be useful. But the way my company has them set up, they indicate neither how hard I have been working, nor how long it will be to the end of the project, nor whether the project is on schedule. They're completely useless.) Luckily for me, my manager also thinks they're completely useless, and hasn't insisted that I fill them out or turn them in.

- Brussels sprouts. I'm a fairly picky eater, but I usually at least understand, in a sort of abstract way, how other people might enjoy the foods I dislike. Usually I dislike something for a specific reason, and can admit that if it wasn't for that one thing, the food might even been wonderful. But I just don't get brussels sprouts. They fail in texture, scent, flavor, and appearance. If there were actually an evil race of beings out there - truly, hopelessly evil - I think brussels sprouts would probably be their favorite vegetable.

Wednesday, April 26, 2000

26 April 2000

Welcome to my morning.

6:00 - the alarm goes off for the first time. Mmm? Oh. The alarm. Wow, that's kindof cool how they started a new song only two seconds after the alarm went off. I hit the snooze button.

6:07 - the alarm goes off for the second time.

6:08 - I peel one eye open and look at the clock. Mmm. Okay. Lots to do today. I really need to get up now. I hit the snooze button and start rubbing my eyes to get the sleepy-gunk out. Just one more...

6:14 - the alarm goes off for the third time. What? Crap. Fell asleep again. I turn the alarm off and sit up.

I slip my shoes on. Wait. I made dinner last night. That means it's... My turn to make lunch. I pick up my pajama pants and pull them on slowly. Weird dream. Why would school buses pick people up in an Applebee's? Bizarre. Maybe I'll write about it in my journal. No; there's not enough of a beginning to the dream for it to make even nominal sense.

I go down the stairs. Maybe I should go back to the doctor about this damn foot. How absurd is it that I have to go down the stairs every morning like this, one step at a time? Though he can't really do anything. I should remember to take some of those foot-pills with me when we go to DC.

I make it to the kitchen and open the garage door. Laboriously, I descend the three steps into the garage and pick up the cat's water dish. Hello, Spud. Damn cat. Why couldn't you have waited another half hour this morning, anyway? Catfood... How come Matt never gets out of bed first? Damn. I can't tell if this is a third of a can left, or two-thirds. Do I give him all of it, or half of it? Shit. I'll give him half of it. He won't starve. Get your head out of the way or I can't put the dish down, idiot. There you go.

Lunch. What's for lunch? Leftovers are easy. Put some extra cheese on... Damn, this tupperware is stu-! There we go. Cheese... cheese... Oops, dropped some. Okay. What all do I have to do today? Lunchboxes... Go to the bank during lunch. Deposit check, set up the direct deposit... Apple or orange for Matt today? Orange, I guess. Gotta get that stupid signature thing. Oatmeal package for me, Nutri-grain bars for Matt. Damn, I hate the way these things crinkle. Mom and John are coming up for lunch with me and Dad... Do I need to put a fork in here? Nah, I think Matt has one at work. Slice off a couple pieces of leftover poundcake, that'll be a nice treat. Wasn't there something else I needed to do today? Was was it?

I start zipping our lunchboxes shut, and suddenly realize what I'd just thought. Lunch out with Mom and John. I look down at the two neatly packed lunchboxes, and sigh.

Well, Matt won't have to pack lunches for us tomorrow morning.

Yesterday, I was talking on IM with Matt and Braz, and Braz suggested that he and his wife Kris meet Matt and I in Washington, D.C. for a concert on June 14th. I was all for this until I realized that the 14th was a Wednesday.

But the concert sounds like fun, and Matt and I never get to spend enough time with Braz and Kris, so I considered carefully and decided that I could work some extra time in order to get part of Wednesday off for the drive, and part or all of Thursday off to sleep in and recover, so I told them to go ahead with the plans.

Then I started to panic. Not badly. But a bit. I hate driving in D.C. Actually, it goes a bit beyond that. I loathe driving in D.C. I can never find anything. And I just knew that when I asked for directions, I'd be pointed at an internet map-generator, and those things haven't yet worked correctly for me in the D.C. area. I asked Braz to give me the name and phone number of the theater so I could call and get decent directions.

He obligingly did so, then suggested that we use the Metro. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea. There are a ton of places on your way into the D.C. area where you can park your car and ride the Metro the rest of the way into the city. I've seen signs for them on my several business trips up that way.

Only one tiny problem. I grew up in this area, which doesn't have any public transportation to speak of. Blacksburg had a fairly good bus system, but I didn't live anywhere near the bus routes, so I never used that, either. In fact, I have never used public transportation when I didn't have someone more experienced with me to tell me where to go and what to do. I don't know how to tell which bus or train to get on, or how to tell the one I want apart from all the others. I don't know how to buy tickets or tokens or whatever is needed, or how to decide where to get off, or how to know when I've reached that point.

Whenever I've used public transportation with someone else - be it train, subway, or bus - some of those things are fairly obvious to me, but there's always at least one thing I can't figure out at all. I suspect that's because the more experienced person I'm with is doing things so quickly I'm missing steps, or they're doing them when I'm not there to see. When we were in Chicago with Matt's mom, for example, I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to tell which train we were supposed to get on to go home. The only signs were numbers. I figured out later that Jill had probably been told when she went to buy the tickets which track our train was on.

But I panicked anyway. Use the Metro? Instead of driving? I mean, I hate driving in D.C., but... The Metro? Really?

I got myself in hand. Thousands of people use the Metro every day. Statistically speaking, I'm almost certainly smarter than at least half of them. (Maybe more. These people are dumb enough to spend significant amounts of time in D.C., after all...) Surely I can read directions and figure this out. The line from the remote station into D.C. is only going in one direction, after all.

Braz made it even easier for me by suggesting we make a day of it and do tourist things. I wouldn't have to stress over my stupidity making us late for the concert in that case. I'd have to work the weekend before the trip to make up the extra time, but I thought it might be worth it. (Right at this moment, as I'm writing this, I still have no idea whether this suggestion was ever made via Braz or myself to Matt. I simply can't remember. I was panicking too hard. So, um, sweetie, when you read this: I think the day-trip is a good idea.)

I'm still a little skitterish at the thought. I'm such a baby. But I managed to travel via plane without help. Surely I can handle a train. Right?

Word of the Day: noisome - noxious, offensive to the senses (esp. sense of smell)

According to the mailing I get these words from, noisome is more closely related to annoy than noise. Which makes sense, given the meanings.

Words fascinate me. I love to know where they came from, what they used to mean, and why they changed. I took three years of Latin in high school, and four semesters of German in college, and what I loved most about both languages was tracking the similarities between the vocabulary and words I know. The changes are astonishing and wonderful and extremely rapid. (Just as an example - Shakespeare wrote less than five hundred years ago, and his works require a great deal of translation for those not familiar with the language.)

I was surprised when I learned - after all the similarities between English and Latin - that English actually evolved from the Germanic languages, not the Latin. (Part of the reason English has such tortured structures is that it began as a Germanic language, and then was heavily influenced by Latin and Latin's children (like French, Spanish, and Italian).

If there were a machine that would let us look into the past, watching without influencing, one of the first things I'd want to study would be language. I've always wondered whether there is a single root for all modern languages, or if speech developed separately and spontaneously in multiple locations. There are a number of scholars and arguments on both sides of the debate. I'd love to see the beginnings of speech - how it began, how it grew, how it spread, and how it changed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2000

25 April 2000

Mike Behind the File Cabinet's girlfriend got a Palm of her own over the weekend - hers is the Vx model, which I think means it's pretty much the same as mine, but with 8M of memory instead of 2. Mike was quite impressed with the little machine, and expounded enthusiastically to me about it for a goodly while.

I agreed that it was a nifty piece of work, and continued on about my day.

In the late afternoon, just before I was about to leave for the day, he read to Random-Mike and me from Palm's website the following statistic: "Palm Computing commands 78.4% of the worldwide market for personal companions."

"Personal companions?" we said. "It's not enough that they make a fantastic PDA, but now they market hookers, too?"

I held up my Palm for display. "You should see the attachments you can get for this thing!"

Much hilarity ensued.

Matt kept us on track, and we filled out our little chart to say what we were going to cook for dinner this week. I may be slightly overly ambitious. Tonight I'm making my mom's macaroni and cheese casserole, which is a favorite of my childhood but feed eight easily. Thursday, I'm making a pot roast which - if you do it right - is good for at least three or four nights.

Matt, quite happily, wrote "Leftovers" for his meal for Sunday.

Okay, I remembered my camera disk today, so here's the pictures I didn't post yesterday. (I'll get them up full-size in the photo album eventually. Don't rush me.)

Sam and John, looking cute
Here's the cute picture of my brother and his fiancée. It did turn out very dark, but the wonders of Paint Shop Pro are not to be denied.

The chocolate CD
Here's the chocolate CD I got for Matt's Easter basket. It even came in a jewelcase! Okay, so it's not that exciting. Next!

KILL!   Is he hatching it, or what?
Here are some insufferably cute pictures of my cat visciously killing a plastic Easter egg.

Word of the Day: Pollyanna - a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything

All I can think of, really, when I see this is a scene from the comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The League is still being formed, and they go to a girls' boarding school where - it turns out later - the Invisible Man is making free with the ladies. As the League carts him away, in the background his latest victim is talking to the headmistress, saying something along the lines of, "Though I've been mishandled by a demon, I'm determined to make the best of it!"

It just cracked me up. Damn, but I wish they'd continue that series...

Monday, April 24, 2000

24 April 2000

Pictures I Did Not Take This Weekend:

- The enormous crowds of tourists at every restaurant we tried to go to for dinner on Friday, resulting from the fact that every other school system in the country has their spring break the week before Easter, instead of the week after, like the local schools.

- The four chat windows that popped open on me less than fifteen seconds after I'd logged in to do some surfing and eat my dinner. I felt loved, and yet harried.

- Matt and I, tired and unenthusiastic, decorating our Easter eggs at 11:00 PM Friday night.

- The moderately gross egg Matt decorated to look like an eyeball. Or any of the other eggs, for that matter.

- My brother and his fiancée acting like Pip and Pop, the two pillbugs from A Bug's Life.

- K.T.'s moment of revelation at my game Saturday night when she figured out how to solve the first puzzle.

- My Easter basket.

- The little heart-shape Matt made out of Hershey's Kisses for me.

- The adorable chocolate bunny from my Easter basket with the long floppy ears and sun-bonnet.

- Matt's Easter basket.

- The extremely funny card I bought three months ago and gave to my parents.

- The extremely delicious Easter dinner my mom made.

- The very cute stuffed bunnies in very weird colors Mom gave us.

- The nine good raspberries left after Matt picked out all the moldy or rotting ones from the half-pint I'd bought.

- The dessert I made that turned out very well even though I decided to skip the raspberries.

Pictures I Did Take This Weekend But Am Not Going To Post Here:

- My brother and his fiancée holding hands and looking cute. I'm not posting it because I took the picture from across the room, and it turned out too dark.

- Diamond visciously attacking a purple plastic Easter egg. Actually, I took at least six of these, and I'm not posting any of them because, as usual, his black fur sucked up all the light, and you can't actually see what's going on in any of the pictures.

- The very amusing chocolate CD I put in Matt's Easter basket. I'm not posting it because, well, we've all seen chocolate molded into amusing shapes before.

The fact that I forgot and left the camera at home this morning has nothing to do with it.

Word of the Day: parable - A short, fictitious story that illustrates a moral or religious principle.

The year I was in the tenth grade, I stumbled across a book of poems while doing research for an English paper. Most of them were pretty boring, in my sophisticated fifteen-year-old opinion, but because math was my favorite subject, one of them struck me as hysterically funny. It was essentially a long series of math and geometry puns. I had the whole thing memorized for years, but now I can only remember a few lines.

I'm being eaten by a parabola.
He sees me as his arc enemy.
Radii, chords, and diameters are out to bisect me.
I try talking to him in his own language:
No dice.
My chances of success are one in six,

The whole thing is much longer. There definitely used to be a pi joke in it, but I can't remember what it was.

Damn, but I wish I'd thought to photocopy it, way back when. Now, I have neither title nor author to go on, only a vague memory of the book's title being something like, A Collection of Children's Poems - and how many of those are there out there? I'll never find it again. Alas.

Friday, April 21, 2000

21 April 2000

Ack! The end of the month is coming too fast! Tonight's schedule includes baking a pound-cake and dyeing Easter eggs, tomorrow is my game (for which I really need to hurry up and come up with an adventure) and Sunday is Easter! Next week I have a dentist appointment and at some point I really need to get my car to the shop for an inspection.


Matt and I went shopping last night for Easter basket stuff. I felt sortof bad about telling Matt, "Okay, you have to go out tonight and buy things for me," but last year the holiday sortof snuck up on him and he wound out going out on Saturday night to pick up the stuff for my basket. Naturally, everything had been picked over by then, so I wound up with a six-pack of Reeses peanut-butter eggs, and a six-pack of Almond Joy eggs.

I like both candy bars, but I like an Easter basket with some variety. Matt felt really bad about it, too, especially since I'd gotten sortof overly enthusiastic about his basket and got him some fun, weird candy. So this year, I suggested that we go during the week, at the same time.

I managed to find enough stuff to fill Matt's basket at Target. The Easter candy was pretty well picked over already, but since Matt had told me he didn't want a lot of candy, that was all right. I found some non-traditional stuff to put in his basket, and some non-food things as well. I think he'll like it.

Since I'd gone all the way across town, and then stopped at the grocery store on my way back (to pick up fruit for Easter dessert and some eggs for dyeing) and Matt had said he planned to just go to the grocery store and the drug store for me, I was pretty sure I'd get back well after him. But no, his car wasn't in the driveway when I got home.

It turned out he'd gone into the colonial district, to stop at the candy store there. (Now I'm really looking forward to my basket!) And while he was there, he'd walked most of the way down the mile-long central street to see if some friends of ours who live out that way were home. They weren't, but the walk had stalled him long enough for me to get home and hide his goodies first.

Today is supposed to be the company's spring cookout. The theory is, several grills are brought in, and everyone brings their own hamburgers or hot dogs, and they grill them during lunch.

I hadn't been planning on participating. I don't keep hamburger patties or hot dogs in the house, and I certainly don't have buns for them. But Becky sent an e-mail to a few of us yesterday demanding that we attend, and the cookout organizers sent out an e-mail saying that there were extras for people who forgot and that we should all attend anyway.

So, what the heck? I figured I'd go, eat a spare hot dog, chat with Becky and Jim and folks, breathe a little fresh air, and then come back to my computer. I told Matt not to bother fixing me a lunch today.

Naturally, of course, it looks like rain, and I'm guessing the cookout will be postponed until next week. And me without a lunch. Ah, well, worse things have happened than me having to eat lunch out.

Word of the Day: hypnagogic - of or relating to the state of drowsiness just before sleep

Look! There's a word for it!

I was in just this state last night when Matt started saying, "Hello? Hello? Are you there?" I tried to tell him that I hadn't said anything and that I certainly hadn't gone anywhere, but I couldn't move. Then I woke up enough to realize that he was playing with the voice-chat features of the new version of Instant Messenger. I got up and shuffled into the computer room, and we spent several minutes speaking loudly into the microphone at Braz, giggling to hear our own voices repeated by his microphone a few seconds later.

Thursday, April 20, 2000

20 April 2000

I admit it - I'm a geek. I spent most of yesterday playing with my new Palm Pilot (oops, excuse me; it's just a Palm now) and as a result I don't have much of anything to tell you about today.

You may all now heave a collective sigh of relief that I'm not going to tell you about the silly games I downloaded for it.

So now that I'm not sick anymore, I called my dentist yesterday to re-schedule the appointment I'd cancelled, and I'm going in for my regular cleaning next week. True to form, once they knew it was coming, my gums started to swell and feel sore.

Fifty weeks out of the year, my teeth and gums are just fine. But every six months, for the week before my cleaning, they suddenly degrade so my hygienist gets the impression I don't even own a toothbrush, much less use it on a regular basis.

This evening, Matt and I are going to go shopping for stuff for each others' Easter baskets. I'd been sweating over this for a while, because Matt told me he didn't really want a lot of candy in his basket, so after the obligatory fuzzy bunny and a little bit of candy, I didn't have the slightest idea what to get for him.

I think I've got that licked, now, but it occurred to me this morning that I have something else to sweat about:

The Easter baskets are in the guest bedroom closet. Behind four thousand six hundred and twenty-seven boxes of random Christmas crap. (That's just an approximation, of course. It might be much closer to five thousand boxes in actuality.)

At least, I think that's where they are.

Maybe I'll just buy Matt a new basket, while I'm at it...

And, while I'm out, I'll need to stop at the grocery store to pick up some last-minute ingredients for the dessert I'm making for Easter dinner. Namely, some fresh berries and some whipped cream. Though I'm still debating whether I want to go with Cool Whip, canned whipped cream, or get whipping cream and whip it myself.

And I realized the other day that while I was sick, Easter had crept a week nearer and I'd forgotten about dying eggs. Since Matt loathes eggs, we don't usually have them in the house unless I need them specifically for a recipe, so I look forward to making Easter eggs every year. It's fun, and I get several days' worth of devilled eggs out of the bargain.

So I guess as long as I'll be at the store anyway, I'll pick up some eggs and a cheap dye kit.

Word of the Day: burgeon - to flourish, bloom, or grow; to expand rapidly.

I'm sitting here, trying to think of someting that's flourishing or expanding in my life so I can use burgeon in a sentence, and suddenly it occurs to me that, just because it's the word of the day, it doesn't mean I have to use it. This isn't grade school.

The word of the day isn't an exercise in using words in a sentence. If all you wanted was to see the word in a sentence, then you could subscribe to the word of the day list yourself. If all I wanted was to use the word in a sentence, then I wouldn't be sitting here having writer's block about it.

The idea is to let the word lead me in a new direction; to use it as the starting point of a brainstorm that eventually leads to an anecdote or observation. I've been holding on to the word itself too tightly, I think. It's time to let go. I don't have to use the word, or even talk about it, to exercise my burgeoning writing skills.

(Had you there, for a minute, didn't I?)

Wednesday, April 19, 2000

19 April 2000

I've been waiting to tell you about Matt's other anniversary present for months. Now that he finally has it, I can finally talk about it.

A couple of months ago, Mike Behind The File Cabinet found this online. (Go look! Really!) I'm not sure where he found it, but all three of us in our office thought it was probably the most hysterically funny thing we'd ever seen. (Something about that tagline, "Zen without the wait" just killed us.) We all agreed to chip in and buy one for our office.

Bonsai PotatoIt was an instant hit. We've got a couple of potatoes growing in the filing cabinet, and Becky brought us an impressive specimin from her home. Everyone who comes into our office - even managers - stop to examine the potatoes. They open the filing cabinet to check on the growth of our two runner-ups. The little book that comes with the kit is hysterically funny.

Reading that little book, I knew - knew, mind you - that Matt would get a huge kick out of this. So I ordered a kit for him, as well, for our anniversary.

As the day neared, my certainty wavered - maybe it wasn't really hysterically funny. Maybe it was just dorky? But I had a CD from his wishlist, and I couldn't think of anything else to get him, really, except the one I idea I'd had for his Easter basket.

I needn't have worried. He thought it was a hoot and immediately raided the fridge for a potato of his own to start growing.

His present to me kicked the shit out of the bonsai potato kit, though.

He handed me the wrapped box with boyish glee. I shook it gently, listening to the rattling under the paper. It sounded like... Well, I didn't know. But I'm a geek and a programmer - maybe he bought me an Erector set. That would be cool!

Boy, was I wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Brimming over with wrongosity.

He'd got me a Palm V.

I first started drooling over it when I saw Braz's at MarsCon. I bid on one a couple of times on eBay, but always got outbid at the last minute. I'd been waffling over the price - I just bought my Zaurus last year, after all.

But the Palm was so cool! And I'd just about made up my mind to bite the bullet and buy the thing retail as soon as our anniversary and Easter were past.

Matt says he can tell I liked it because I didn't even pick up the wrapping paper from the floor before running upstairs to plug it all in. I love my husband, I really do.

And I don't have to feel guilty about the Zaurus, because K.T.'s broke a while back, so she's interested in buying mine as soon as I've got everything copied off of it.

Yeah, I know - a bonsai potato and a PDA don't sound like very exciting anniversary presents. But then, as I told Matt, I felt like a camera crew was going to show up at any moment with a narrator: "And here we see the mating rituals of the wild geek..."

I'd decided on dinner at the Outback, but when we got there, they had a 45-minute wait already. On a Tuesday! So we went to the Peddler instead. The Peddler was as crowded as I've ever seen it, actually. I wonder what's going on in town that there were so many people hitting the restaurants on a Tuesday evening.

Yesterday was "Free Cone Day" at Ben and Jerry's, too, but when we came out of the Peddler, the wind was picking up and it was too cold to really enjoy ice cream, so we went on home.

I wanted to play with my new toy, anyway.

Oh, by the way, I wanted to apologize for yesterday's entry being so short and hurried. While I was at the beginning of writing it, one of my managers came in and dumped a fingerprint scanner on my desk and said, in essense, "We have to make this work with our application in time for the trade show that's in two weeks. So to have it ready for testing, we've got to have it integrated by the end of this week. Oh, and by the way, I'm leaving for California tonight and won't be back until next week."

So I rushed through my journal entry so I could start working on integrating the scanner.

For once, it worked as advertised, and I'd actually left places in my code to integrate it (I'd known it was coming eventually, I just didn't know when) and so I had the whole thing done before 10. But I couldn't have known it would go that smoothly when I started.

Word of the Day: slapstick - comedy stressing farce and horseplay

Though humor is definitely one of the cornerstones of our relationship, Matt and I disagree on the value of slapstick comedy. While the occasional pratfall or seemingly accidental slip can make me chuckle, and the perfect timing of clowns at the circus leave me breathless, I only enjoy physical humor as an accent to more intellectual comedy. Entire shows based around slapstick leave me cold.

I've tried to appreciate it, but it just gets so boring after a while. Maybe it's a gender thing. (But I still like the bonsai potato.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2000

18 April 2000

Today is Matt's and my second wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, sweetie!

Since we'd each gotten each other two gifts, we agreed to open one this morning. I gave him the They Might Be Giants album Severe Tire Damage, and he gave me the British version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Yay, sweetie!

Tonight we'll open our other presents and go out to eat. I've pretty well narrowed down my dinner request to either the Peddler (which has good food and great atmosphere) or the Outback (which has great food and good atmosphere). I'll probably make a snap decision right before we leave the house.

I don't remember meeting Matt for the first time, which is a source of great amusement to some. It was the summer before my senior year at William and Mary, and K.T. had an apartment about a mile off-campus, in the campus housing reserved for married and/or parent students. (She'd gotten the apartment because of her ill-advised and somewhat spur-of-the-moment first marriage, and she lost it again less than a month later when the college found out her husband wasn't actually living there, but that's another story.)

At any rate, she was living in this apartment, and decided to host a Heroes game. To be honest, I don't remember much at all about the game. I vaguely remember my character - a person with a mechanized armor suit whom the media dubbed "The Vocalizer" because it recorded and used their own voices in order to disguise the character's identity. I remember K.T.'s ex boyfriend, Neil, playing a mutant with the ridiculously pissant power of light control ("It's... Light-Bulb Guy!") and that's about it. I know some other people were playing, but I have no idea who.

I don't even remember that my own boyfriend was there, though everyone tells me he was and I have no reason to doubt them. And Matt was there, as well. Apparently, he even asked P. and I for a ride back to his dorm after the game, which we gave him cheerfully.

No memory. None whatsoever. He was just this guy. I didn't start registering him as a person I should remember until later that year, after K.T. moved into the apartment I was sharing with another girl and he became one of the small hoarde of people who regularly hung out at our place. It was years later before I could even comprehend thinking of him in a romantic way, much less think of him that way myself. So I have no memory whatsoever of our first meeting.

I get a lot of shit for that. Word of the Day: mimesis - imitation, mimicry

I sometimes feel like I am only the mimesis of an adult - I live in my own house, I pay my own bills, I work at my own job... But it doesn't feel real. Like, at any moment, someone's going to yell, "Cut!" and tell me it was a nice try, but they're looking for someone taller, who actually knows what she's doing.

Every now and then, I'll be sitting in my house, and I'll suddenly look up and around in panic. What am I doing with a house? I don't know anything about houses! What if it falls apart? What if I can't pay for it? Mother of gods, it took me three months to pick out a $500 digital camera - what am I doing, thinking I can take care of a $100,000 house?

And married? Whoever said I was mature enough for that, anyway? At least I'm not screwing up the lives of any kids!

Most of the time, I'm okay. I just keep on keeping on, not really trying to think about how I got here, or where I'm going. I work my job, I pay the bills, I carry on with my life. But don't tell - shh! - I'm just faking.

Monday, April 17, 2000

17 April 2000

Well, that was certainly much more like a weekend! Not that anything especially exciting happened, but at least I didn't spend the whole thing in bed with my skull splitting open.

We slept in both mornings, went to K.T.'s game on Saturday, and went to see my parents on Sunday. We wound up at my folks' until almost 9:30, watching a special on the Discovery channel called Walking with Dinosaurs that was just fantastic.

I've got to be the only person in the world, except of course my mother, who can kill mint and ivy. I'd set the potted mint outside to take advantage of our sunny afternoons, and then got sick, and it didn't even occur to me to ask Matt to water the thing. So now I've got six or so shrivelled, pathetic-looking stalks, and three stalks that might recover, if I leave them in the kitchen window for the next several months.

The ivy I brought from my parents' house to plant around the base of my mailbox. Being a vine, ivy's usually pretty easy to transplant - just make sure you get a bunch of the rootlings on the vine covered, and keep it watered until it sets in, and you're set. Ha! Apparently I didn't pay enough attention to it, and the rain washed away the dirt I'd piled on the rootlets, leaving the whole plant exposed and unwatered.

Just call me Liz the Blackthumb.

Tomorrow is Matt's and my second anniversary. He wrapped my presents on Saturday and set them out where I'd see them frequently to tease me. I need to try to remember to bring his presents home from work this afternoon so I can wrap them.

I've warned him already that they're not very exciting. I have trouble picking out presents for Matt - what do you get for a guy that's romantic without being cheesy? So I ditched romance and just went for fun. I hope. Well, we'll see.

Word of the Day: bombast - pretentious or inflated speech or writing

I'm surrounded by bombast. The political season is gearing up: time for even more nonsense than usual from the politicians. I work in an office of a large corporation: managers can't say anything without tacking on at least four unnecessary (and nonexistant) words.

C'mon, gimme a word with some challenge!

Friday, April 14, 2000

14 April 2000

Matt asked me last night where I wanted to go to dinner for our anniversary (which is coming up next Tuesday). Apparently his boss, TB, suggested going to Ford's Colony. (Ford's Colony is actually a local golfing community, but when non-golfing locals refer to it, they usually mean their restaurant.) TB, who used to wait tables there, told Matt to expect to pay around $150 for the meal. I laughed and told him TB was assuming a bottle of wine - that we could almost certainly get out for only about $100.

Still, it seems a little much for a second anniversary. But I still have to decide where I want to go. Well, I'll think about it.

Well, here is is Friday again. I hope this weekend is a little more relaxing than the last one! I'm still feeling ever-so-slightly wobbly around the edges, but hopefully with some rest, I'll be back in top form.

I'd better be. I was thinking this morning about all the things I need to get done this month:
  • My car is due for inspection.
  • It's time for my bi-annual dental exam. (In fact, I had that scheduled for this week, but cancelled it because I was sick.
  • I missed my chiropractor appointment at the beginning of the month. I'm trying to decide if I want to call them back, since my back isn't hurting at the moment.
  • It's time for my annual physical exam. I should make an appointment for next week, in fact.
  • I need to decide if I'm going to call the cleaning service back and re-schedule the cleaning that was cancelled because I was sick, or if I'm willing to live with the mess for another two weeks. (Well, week and a half.)
  • I need to decide on, and then make, something for dessert for Easter dinner with my family.
Ack. It's enough to make me want to spend another week in bed!

I'm not feeling the narcotics-withdrawal nearly as sharply today. Thank heavens. I couldn't finish my dinner last night because every swallow was so painful. (Have you ever taken a bite just a little too big, and there's that sortof painful feeling as it travels down your esophogus? Like that. Only size didn't matter.) I hate being on narcotic painkillers. Or rather, I hate stopping narcotic painkillers

But not enough to put up with the original pain!

Word of the Day: whammy - a magic force or spell; a potent force or blow (esp. a paralyzing or lethal blow)

Being sick sure put the whammy on my leave. Actually, it hasn't yet - I'm trying to work off as much as I can. Thankfully, since this is the beginning of the pay-period, I'll be able to work off most of the missed time. Which is good, because I'm pretty sure if I tried to tell my brother I couldn't make it to his wedding, he'd put the whammy on me again!

Thursday, April 13, 2000

13 April 2000

(OnDisplay collab for the month of April)
Spring isn't my favorite season of the year, but it's a close second. My favorite season is autumn. But if I had to rate the seasons with percentages that add up to 100, I'd probably say 40% autumn, 35% spring, 20% winter, and 5% summer. (I hate summer. I hate being hot and sweaty, and I hate that the streets are choked with sullen, bored kids who've been thrown out of their houses by angry parents. The only possible redeeming feature I can think of for summer is swimming. And we don't even have access to a pool any more. Thank all the gods that be for air conditioning.)

But spring ranks pretty high. I'd always wanted to get married in the autumn, but when it became obvious that I was going to go slightly mad well before then from the planning, I suggested changing to spring. Matt laughed at me, but agreed. (That's coming up in a few days. Boy, am I glad I bought him some presents before I got sick. I don't think I could stand to go shopping this weekend.)

I like the sights of spring - things blooming in deft and delicate colors; pale greens re-emerging from long-dormant trees. I like the sounds of spring - birds chirping in the air; the patter of a light rain; the whir of lawn mowers in the evening. I like the feel of spring - warm sun; a cool breeze caressing my face and tangling in my hair; soft new grass. I like the taste of spring - strawberries and raspberries and blueberries have a sweetness then that they don't have - if you can find them at all - the rest of the year.

And all tied up with all of those, I've always loved the smells of spring - sweet flowers, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the smell of a soft rain about to fall, the scent of sun-ripened strawberries... These are smells for healing.

I'm not feeling quite as good today as I was yesterday, but still miles better than Tuesday, so that's good. Maybe I'll go to bed immediately after dinner tonight instead of trying to sit up until "bedtime." I'm still fairly exhausted - this weekend can't come fast enough!

This morning around three, I woke up to use the bathroom, and was struck by the absence of the cat. He's usually in or near our room at night. I was too tired to actually think much about it, though, and went back to bed hoping he wouldn't come in and wake me up too early.

When the alarm went off, it almost surprised me. I slammed the snooze button once, then forced myself upright on the second alarm. (And the time really did pass just like that for me, too: Slam [pull arm back under blankets] [alarm goes off again] How annoying.)

Matt muttered that it was my turn to take the first shower, and that he'd let the cat in from the garage.

"He's in the garage?"

Matt was looking for his slippers. "Yep! He was a little stink!" This is what we say when the cat is being a pest.

"Was he?" I wondered. Usually the cat is a stink on my side of the bed, batting things off my bedside table, licking my face, that kind of thing. I was going to (privately) begin singing the Hallelujah Chorus if he'd finally decided to start pestering Matt instead.

Matt looked at me strangely. "Yeah," he said, "Right about eleven thirty?" He was obviously waiting for me to remember, but all I could do was shake my head. Matt described the incident to me in detail, and eventually some of it sounded vaguely familiar, but in all honesty, I don't really remember much of anything.

Guess those sleeping pills are good for something, at least!

Word of the Day: repugn - to contend against, to oppose

What a splendid old word. Now there's a verb with force! When it's not just enough to tell someone you reject them, no, now you can repugn them! Imagine how much more exciting politics would be if this word were still in common usage - we could get past the mudslinging and right down into the dirt!

"Your political platform changes with every train platform! Are you not enough of a man to stand up and tell the American people exactly what you have in mind? Don't you trust your voters to do what's best for this nation? Sir, I repugn you and your two-faced waffling!"

Yeah! It might almost be enough to make me care.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

12 April 2000

Well, I'm back. Sortof. Maybe. I'm still slightly achey, and I have no appetite, and if heroin chic could be fat, I'd be it, baby. My skin is pale, my hair is limp, my eyes are puffy and dark and sunken and red all at the same time.

But I lost weight. Apparently if you spend four or five days doing nothing but lying in bed and eat nothing in that time but most of a bowl of soup (which you then proceed to throw up), a handful or two of grapes (most of which you throw up), a half-dozen or so forkfuls of rice (choked down only because your spouse is convinced this is more nutritious than milk) and most of a gallon of milk, you lose weight. Your muscles atrophy until you can barely stand in the shower, but you lose weight.

I spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday in bed, mostly dozing. I got up a couple of times to check my e-mail, and a few times more to go to the bathroom. When I made my shaky way down the stairs Sunday evening, thinking I might be strong enough to watch TV, I greeted the living room, "Wow... So this is downstairs..."

I decided that the painkillers the emergency room had given me were practically useless. Sure, they brought the fever down to something manageable. Sure, they eased the pain in my neck and shoulders. But they didn't do a damn thing for my head, and as far as I was concerned, that was the real reason I had gone in. To make matters worse, the headache was so constant, it wouldn't let me get all the way to sleep. I could drop as far as REM sleep, but the pain was so overriding, I couldn't relax into anything deeper, or even hold onto REM sleep for more than about an hour and a half at a time - and that was a night, with no lights, noises, or other distractions. (I'm bad, I confess; I looked forward to Matt going to work Monday morning so I wouldn't wake up every time the floor creaked when he came to check on me.)

So Monday I went back to my regular doctor (with Matt's help) and whined at him. I told him I'd cheerfully kill someone if I thought it would get me eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. My doctor has a pretty good bedside manner - cheerful and sympathetic at the same time. He confessed they still weren't sure exactly what this was - sinus infection or virus or even both. He made me move my neck and decided that meningitis was Right Out. (Didn't we already decide that at the hospital?)

He poked and prodded and took a lot of notes, and then he gave me another prescription for the same painkiller, but this time told me I could take two of them at a time. And another prescription for a sleeping pill. And suggested I buy a laxative.

"I'm not constipated!"

He poked at my abdomen again and watched me wince.

"I haven't eaten anything solid since Friday!"

"Just take it."

Oh, hell, why not; we've already spent like $75 on drugs and special foods for me so far. What the heck. Line 'em up, doc!

Matt's irritated that they still don't know what it is. My opinion? Computers are complicated enough; I'm doing well if I can narrow down the possible problems to two or three after a couple of diagnostics. Of course, I was too miserable to be worried, so Matt was worrying enough for the both of us. He's not especially logical when he's indignant over my well-being. It's cute.

I went home and took my last two Vicodin from the hospital's prescription, and half an hour later was blissfully aware that the headache's intensity had reduced by at least half. If I laid very, very still, I could get as much as three or four minutes without any pain at all. Heaven.

I had to give the MeadeHall a miss on Monday. It was just as well, considering the state of Matt's computer. I tried to sit in for a while, just reading over Matt's shoulder. But Matt reads a little faster than I do at the best of times, and I had a headache and was on drugs, which meant I had to look at each word three times before it made sense. And Matt was bouncing around between two public chat windows, a couple of private conversations, and the webpage he was browsing. I couldn't keep up. So I said goodnight and went to bed.

Monday night I got four hours of sleep at a stretch. That was nice. Then I made the mistake of thinking, "Oh, I'll just skip my 3AM painkillers. I don't want to get up. I'll just wait until 7." Seeing as how I'd made this mistake both previous nights, I don't know how I managed to convince myself I could do that. I managed to doze for about two more hours, then spent the rest of the night waiting for the moment when I could prod Matt's shoulder and ask him to get me something to take my drugs with.

I took no chances. I spent all day Tuesday drugged out of my mind. It felt really, really good. I still didn't want to eat anything, but to make Matt feel better, I had a slice of buttered bread around 5 - 7. (Yes, it took me two hours to eat a single slice of bread. We're not in this for speed records, okay?)

Around 10 or so, I thought I might be just barely on the edges of hungry. I wanted something warm. It took me half an hour to decide if it was worth getting out of bed for, but I eventually clambered down the stairs and reheated the same tomato soup leftovers that had been in the 'fridge since Friday afternoon. (After I skimmed the skin off, of course.)

By the time I'd finished that, it was almost time for the season finale of The Soporanos - what the heck? Violence and betrayal are sure to make a fantastic backdrop for my fever-dreams. (I'd had some great ones, too. I dreamed I was talking on the MeadeHall, only instead of just talking, or typing what I was saying, I said things out loud that turned into text on the screen. I kept forgetting to put the double-colon "action indicator" on my actions, and then I'd have to back up and do them over again. Another time I dreamed I was eating Corn Pops, with very cold milk. The last one I remember, I was sitting in a giant Easter basket eating Silly Sours Jelly Bellies. Matt offered to get me Corn Pops and Jelly Bellies when I told him about those. Poor guy. It was really driving him crazy that I didn't want to eat.)

Toward the end of The Soporanos (and boy, talk about fever dreams!) I realized that I was overdue for my next painkiller, but that I was still feeling... okay. Not great - a little achey around the edges, a little cloudy in the brain - but not miserable. I wondered if the drugs were lasting longer, or if I was actually getting better.

I took only a single painkiller along with the nighttime complement, let Matt settle himself... I fell asleep quickly, and didn't wake up again until 5 AM! Five hours of sleep! Uninterrupted, no weird special-clarity dreams, no waking up when Matt rolled over! Let there be joy and dancing in the streets! And the pain? The single pain-killer should certianly have worn off in that time... But the pain is a dull ache behind my eyes if I stare at something too long or too hard (it's taking me a long time to write this up today) and the band of pressure across my forehead that's not comfortable, but hardly painful.

So, in the interest of hopefully not having to completely abandon my summer plans, I thought I'd try to come in to work. I have a plastic baggie full of Advil to help with the remaining fever and pain, and I think as long as I don't push things too hard, I'll be okay. (I sure hope so. I need to work late to make up some of these hours.)

And just to give credit where credit is due... Many many many thanks go to Matt, who drove me places I didn't want to go, ran errands for me, brought me food I wouldn't eat, and tried very hard to stay out of my way so I could rest. My appreciation, also, to Karen, K.T., and Greg, who wrote e-mail and sent e-get-well-cards, and to Jeff and the other people who called to see how I was doing, even if Matt didn't wake me up so I could talk to any of you.

Oh, and for Braz, who has this uncanny ability to log off his computer less than two minutes after I log on - even if my "logging on" is just walking into the room where Matt's using the computer - Relax, will ya? That's not how you get computer viruses! ;-)

Now, if I can just figure out where I left my appetite...

Word of the Day: substantive - considerable in amount or numbers; creating and defining rights and duties; involving matters of major or practical importance to all concerned

Oh, my brain's too slow for this today. Besides, I know what substantive means. I've even used it in a sentence of my own volition before. What if I just say that I knew you missed me, and wanting to get back to my beloved journal was a substantive part of my recovery? (Okay, how about this, then: I have a substantive pile of drugs at home.)

Friday, April 7, 2000

7 April 2000

Advil is my friend. The headache refuses to subside entirely, but at least with a few Advil in my system it's a quiet pounding in my forehead. When the Advil wear off, the pounding spreads to my temples and behind my eyes. Rapid change of position sends steel spikes in through my temples and eye-sockets. My neck is so stiff and sore I can only turn my head about sixty degrees in either direction, and even that's painful.

But there's no sniffling, no sore throat, no upset stomach... I wish I knew what the hell this was. If it isn't gone by Monday, I'll call the doctor.

Since I spent yesterday moving slowly and trying to avoid anything involving complex thought, there's not much to tell. I went home early, around 2:30, and spent several hours lying on the couch watching videos and eating Girl Scout cookies. After Matt got home, we had a brief discussion about whether I was allowed to skip dinner, but I didn't have enough energy to fight about it, so I ate. I went to bed around 8:30, waking up a little when Matt came to bed at 10:30, and waking up a lot with the shakes around 4:30 when the cat wanted to be put out. I took some more Advil (ambrosia, I swear!) and went back to bed until I blearily realized that the thing talking to me was my alarm clock at 6.

To make up the hour I missed yesterday, I'm supposed to work until 4:30 today. However, since the company foolishly asks us to turn in our timecards for the week no later than 9:30 AM on Fridays, no one is likely to notice if I slip out a little earlier than necessary. We'll see how things go.

Word of the Day: gadzookery - the use of archaic speech patterns

I admit, a little gadzookery is fun in its place. It's part of the charm of roleplaying to say "aye" instead of "yes" or to call each other "milord" and "milady." I once developed a crush on a guy I met at a sci-fi convention because he'd bowed over my hand and said, "Charmed," instead of nodding and saying, "Nice to meetcha."

But it has its place. In "real" life, that kind of talk would only make me nervous.

Thursday, April 6, 2000

8 April 2000

I've been lying horizontal for most of the past twenty hours or so. I thought I'd see if sitting up for a little while improved things, and so you - lucky you! - are getting a bonus journal entry out of it!

I went home from work yesterday at noon, after deciding there was no way I could make it to the end of the day. I slept or dozed for most of the afternoon. When Matt came home, he found the thermometer for me and I took my temperature: 102.4. I haven't had a fever that high in ten years, since the time I went to work at the movie theater with the flu.

Matt called my doctor's office and asked the answering service to page the doctor on call. About half an hour later, she called back, and I described my symptoms. She told me to try taking the maximum safe dosage of Advil - four. She said if things didn't improve, I should call back this morning and come in to see her; and if things got worse, I should go to the emergency room.

I took the four Advil around 7. At 8, I took my temperature again, and it had gone up - to 102.8. Matt drove me to the hospital.

The hospital, despite being not very busy, was slow. But after I'd been triaged, they put me in an isolated room. Until, they said, they'd ruled out meningitis as a possible cause. If I hadn't been in so much pain, I'd have been scared witless. The doctor came in after a while and made me feel better, saying that he thought it was just a sinus infection, but they had to be sure. He told me someone would be in shortly to take some blood for tests and to x-ray my head.

...Okay, I think I've just discovered which drug I'm allergic to. Yuck. I hate throwing up.

At any rate, it was almost an hour later that a very nice nurse (that I thought looked a little like Jodie Foster) came in to give me some Tylenol 3 and put a hole in my arm. She started checking the veins in my hand, and I told her my story about getting the IV in my hand when I had my wisdom teeth out. She promised not to put a needle in me unless she was sure it would work, and to look higher on my arm first. Astonishingly, she found the vein in my elbow and nailed it on the first try. I was profusely grateful.

She collected enough blood to feed a small colony of vampires, then brought Matt in to sit with me. Another half-hour later, another nurse came in and wheeled my bed down to radiology for the xrays. That was slightly painful, since the radiologist had me turning my head into weird positions.

Then they wheeled me back into my room. I closed my eyes and tried to doze while Matt read the book he'd brought. A while later, the doctor came in and told me for sure I had a sinus infection behind my left eye, and we were just waiting for the bloodwork to be done before they released me. He promised it wouldn't be more than fifteen minutes.

An hour later, he came in to apologize and explain that he hadn't known one of the tests took an hour to complete. He had another nurse come in and give me another Tylenol 3 and a horse-pill of an antibiotic, and take my temperature again. My temp was down to 100.2, which was welcome news.

About ten minutes later, the nurse came back with two prescriptions - one for the antibiotic, and one for Vicodin, for the pain. She also brought me enough Vicodin to get me through the night, and a form for me to sign so I could leave. By this time, it was almost 12:15.

Matt drove me home again, though the ride made me slightly nauseous. I trundled upstairs to check my e-mail before going to bed (I'm such a junkie) and just as I was finished with that, I threw up. Luckily, I was able to get to the bathroom before spraying anything. I got up twice more during the night with the dry heaves, which is almost worse.

Not being sure what caused it, I didn't take any more drugs until morning, when I could get Matt to go downstairs and bring me something to eat with the Vicodin. The Vicodin isn't actually helping with the pain much, but it helps me sleep and isn't making me sick. About noon or so, Matt brought me my drugs from the pharmacy, and I took the antibiotic. Around 1:15, I got up to see if that would help things any, and twenty minutes later, writing this entry, I threw up again. This time was much worse, so Matt called the doctor's office again, and I explained everything to the doctor, and she promised to call in a new antibiotic for me. I guess I'll have to send Matt out yet again.

Matt, by the way, has been lovely and wonderful and sympathetic. Just to give credit where credit is due. (I love you, sweetie.)

By the way, let not my suffering dampen Jeff's birthday! Send him an e-card or something, at least! Happy birthday, Jeff!

6 April 2000

Yesterday when I got home from work, I decided I should get my ass in gear and pay the bills that I've been putting off for a couple of weeks. I pulled out the checkbooks, sat down at the dining table, and did it. Then I glanced through my checkbook register and realized I hadn't reconciled my checkbook in three months.

There was a time when I was extremely diligent about these things. I paid bills as soon as they arrived; I did the math in the checkbook register immediately after writing the check; and I reconciled my checkbook as soon as I got the bank statement.

Working at 3GI, we got paid twice a month, and so that's when I paid the bills. I got lazier and lazier about doing the reconciliation - perhaps because doing it in Quicken made it so much easier. Or maybe just because I got lazy. I don't usually leave the math in the register for more than a week or so, and I've never bounced a check yet... But I've been late with the bills enough to have paid perhaps $20 or so in late fees.

I know, I know - hardly criminal. After all, there are plenty of people who are perpetually late paying their bills, who never do their math or reconcile their statements, and these people seem to get along just fine.

But it bothers me a little. So anyway, when I realized how long it had been since I reconciled my checkbook, I lugged everything upstairs to the computer, scrounged up the bank statements back to December, and started entering checks into Quicken. This took well more than half an hour since Matt came home while I was in the middle of it. I entered everything, then went through three reconciliations, and when I looked up, I'd been home for almost two hours and had been working steadily the whole time - but everything was neat and clean again.

Working on our computer in the late afternoon and early evening means fighting the sun that comes in through the window to read the screen. As a result, I had a mild headache when I headed down to the kitchen to start dinner. The headache didn't go away.

After dinner, I got back on the computer and - much to my delight - found several e-mails from Braz, who'd finally found the time to get caught up on the various e-mails we've been sending around on the Hall plot. While I was answering those, he logged on to IM and we chatted for a while.

I'd promised Matt he could check his mail, so when I finished answering the e-mail, I said good night to Braz and called Matt to come and take the taunting Braz wanted to give him about the Cubs.

I went downstairs to watch TV. Nothing was on. I pulled out the next Babylon 5 tape, but when I saw what the next episode was, decided it was too much for my aching skull. I took a couple of Advil, then laid on the couch and idly watched the Cubs/Cardinals game.

A little while later, Matt came down and told me K.T. wanted to talk to me on IM about her recent Hall plot, so I dragged myself up and went back upstairs. My eyeballs were beginning to throb.

While I was chatting with K.T., I tried to crack my neck, and instead of a quiet pop! and a release of tension, I got a sudden muscle spasm and the sensation that the muscles in my neck were one gigantic bruise.

"If I didn't know better," I told K.T., "I'd swear I had the flu."

It occured to me to wonder whether I had a fever - the symptoms were certainly all there. I shuffled into the bedroom, found the thermometer, and stuck it in my mouth. Then I pulled it out of its case and tried again.

A couple of minutes later, I pulled it out. 100. And this after a dose of Advil. The headache was not subsiding. I made my apologies to K.T., wished her a good night, and went to bed.

It seems to be mostly gone this morning. I've still got a whisper of a headache and my neck muscles are still stiff, but I feel much better. I have no idea what that was, or where it came from. I recall Becky complaining a few days ago that she felt sick, but she wasn't feverish; she just had a sore throat.

Spring fever, maybe.

Word of the Day: ambrosia - food or ointment of the gods; something extremely pleasing to taste or smell

I made a new recipe last night, courtesy of Braz's wife, Kris: Apple Chicken. It's not a combination I'd have thought of on my own - especially putting cinnamon on chicken - but it turned out fantastic. I adapted the recipe very slightly, cubing the chicken before I cooked it and then using a little corn starch to thicken the sauce, but Matt and I both agreed, it was a definite "keeper" recipe.

The onions, which had been cooked in apple juice and cider vinegar, were almost sharp to the taste, contrasting perfectly with the cinnamon on the chicken. A hint of brown sugar kept the sauce from being too tangy, and the sauce lent flavor to the rice.

If I'd used a tarter apple, it would've been pure ambrosia.

Wednesday, April 5, 2000

5 April 2000

I got an e-mail yesterday from a reader who thought I ought to know that excessive burping is one of the early signs of pregnancy.

My first reaction was Please, oh merciful Mother, no. Then I thought about it and decided that the timing of certain events (none of which you want to know about, I'm sure) made that hypothesis unlikely in the extreme, even if I wasn't on birth control.

But if it doesn't stop soon, maybe I'll go buy a $10 drugstore kit. Just to be sure...

Braz and I have been having something of an ongoing conversation about the characters that live in our heads. No, you didn't get a warning MeadeHall graphic because - while this conversation has been inspired by the current MeadeHall plot, it's not really about that plot. (At least, what I'm going to talk about isn't.)

The characters that I really care about take on their own lives inside my head. Sometimes, it even seems that they have thoughts and actions and personalities separate from my own. It doesn't happen all that often, but when it does, controlling those characters is next to impossible. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I tend to create strong-willed characters.

The first character who truly lived in my head was Caroline. I'd had unruly characters before, but I usually managed to drag them into line. Caroline absolutely put her foot down and refused to go where I wanted to drag her. This was even more of a problem because that story was being written in concert with Matt, who owned Graham, and Graham, too, refused to go where Matt pointed him. No, Graham wasn't going to just "get over" the fact that his best friend had been turned into a vampire, because it frankly scared the shit out of him. No, Caroline wasn't going to "admit" that she was in love with Graham, because she wasn't, and never had been. (Lust, maybe, but not love.)

MeadeHall characters get into my head very easily, I suppose because they're role-played, so I have to let them in to some degree. And, as I said, I create strong-willed characters, so once they get their foot in that door...

I created Maeli to be the antithesis of most of the Hall's patrons - she was extremely old, had never been an adventurer, and had lived her life in one place, always doing the "proper" thing. When I created her, my idle intent was that she'd let one of the powerful patrons revitalize her, and then she'd go adventuring, the way she'd always wanted to do.

She was having none of it. Sure, she'd always wanted to go adventuring. But she'd decided to stay home and marry and raise a family and by the gods, that's what she did. She'd had a full life, and she had no intention of letting some over-powered whippersnapper go fooling around with it. (Did I mention she was a crotchety old bag?) I fought with her over it for weeks, but finally accepted her wishes - and in understanding, she let me decide when she'd go.

Now, Braz and I are both getting overwhelmed by the current plot. Braz is wrestling with not one, but two characters - both of whom are getting their jollies by only telling him just enough to confuse and disorient him. I created Zoya specifically with a lack of romance in mind, but when Marten showed up, Zoya told me she thought it was about time to get over her past, and move beyond it.

Yesterday, Braz and I were chatting on IM about various things, and he told me about a vision Marten had shown him. Zoya's actually much smarter than I am, but she's still not very good with people or relationships, and she jumped to conclusions. I spent at least an hour arguing with her about possible alternative interpretations of that vision (Braz, conveniently, had to leave almost immediately after telling me about it) until she finally accepted that it didn't have to be disastrous. She's still feeling a little suspicious, though. I warned Braz to have a long talk with Marten.

So what's the point to all this? I don't know, really. This thing has been out of my control for weeks. I'm just looking forward to the ride.

Word of the Day: baroque - characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, complexity, or flamboyance

If it's baroque, fix it! Ha!

Well, seriously. I don't like ornate, extravagant decorations. I really never have. I protested loudly about the bedskirt on my bed when I was a kid. I hated ruffles, and I hated the color pink, and I don't know what my mother was thinking when she brought me a pink ruffle that went all the way around my bed. I like simple lines, elegant curves, and clean edges. I'm a proponent of function over form and comfort over appearance.

Tuesday, April 4, 2000

4 April 2000

 It's Tuesday - time for the weekly MeadeHall update! Last night was pretty choppy, actually - several people kept getting disconnected. I don't know if the server was a little goofy, but I do know Matt's modem and/or computer seem to be slowly sliding into oblivion. He was extremely unhappy about it - I think he'd been looking forward to participating, since Braz had sent him a clue for Jaret.

At any rate, with Matt fuming, I decided I'd rather run late and go to bed after him than go to bed first wondering how long he'd stew. So - and I'm sure this will just shock your socks off - Braz and Karen and I had a pick-up session after the regular Hall ended.

Those events didn't officially happen last night - they're happening later this week, in the MeadeHall universe. But we were having fun. It speaks for the sorts of friends that we all are that on one channel, Marten, Glossaria, and Lisl (yeah, Karen twice) were having a discussion on Daoist philosophy (don't ask. really.) while on the pick-up channel, the three of us plus Jeff, who stuck around for a while to chat, were inventing bizarre and peculiar insults. (Along the lines of "Nerf herder!" from Star Wars. Don't ask. Really.)

Anyway, Braz handed out a bucket of clues for us, and once Zoya recovers enough to process things, she'll be looking into certain matters rather carefully. Glossaria agreed to become Zoya's apprentice as a priestess of Erdian, and so Zoya will no longer be "high" priestess by virtue of being Erdian's only priestess. Vallel ate a lobster. (Shut up. It was funny as hell.) And Zoya got a letter from Tyl, which she'll be responding to, um, today. Before the stuff that we worked out last night takes place. Gotta love time-distorted plots.

So, it was about 11:45 yesterday, and I had my supervisor at my computer helping me look for some stupid problem, when the phone rang. It turned out to be Jim, who had decided he absolutely must leave the office for lunch today, and did I want to join him and Becky?

Well, I had a sandwich in the 'fridge leftover from the game on Saturday, but what the heck? I said sure, and went with Jim and Becky to Second Street for lunch. We had a grand time, and I came back to the office to discover that my supervisor hadn't figured out what was causing the inexplicable problem, but had found a workaround. I labeled the workaround as such and went on with my day.

Around 2:45, Matt called. He was at home, about to go to a 3GI company party. (I know what the occasion was, but if I told you, I'd have to kill you. When the press release comes out, I'll post a summary and link.) At any rate, it was big news for the company, and the president, TG, was treating the entire office to drinks, appetizers, and food ... at Second Street.

Matt said that some other spouses were coming, and since I'd recently been a 3GI employee and had so many friends still on the staff, he thought I'd be welcome. I wasn't entirely certain that would actually be the case, but I agreed to stop by when I left work. But actually, when I got there and said hello to Matt, I wound up exchanging a little friendly banter with TG himself. So I made the rounds, greeting old friends and acquaintances, and finally wound up at a table with Jeremy and Elizabeth. We talked briefly about the company news, and I ordered a Tom Collins to sip on while we chatted.

I made a mistake. Tom Collins mix is heavier than gin, and I was drinking through a straw. So as I sipped, I got mostly mix... and then suddenly, nothing but gin. Yuck. So, of course, I had to order another. Shortly after that, I made my way back to Matt's table and sat there eating his french fries in a desperate attempt to equalize my blood-alcohol level so I could drive home.

I was still slightly tipsy when we went to the grocery store an hour later. But that was boring enough to mostly sober me back up.

Word of the Day: lavation - the act or an instance of washing or cleansing

"Lavation." It's got a ritual - almost religious - feel to it, doesn't it? Maybe because it sounds so much like "libation." This can't be something as common as simple washing up, can it? It's a reverent-sounding word, I think. "I take a shower every day, but once a week indulge in a much longer and more elaborate lavation."

Ah, well. Don't forget, after visiting the lavatory, to take your hands to the sink for a lavation. And use lavish amounts of soap.

Update! The press has released. The short version is that the division of 3GI for which Matt works has been sold to another company, called Maximus. All in all, I think it's a good thing. There are some downsides, of course, but most everything has downsides.

Monday, April 3, 2000

3 April 2000

Happy April, everyone! I didn't participate in any April Fool's jokes, on either end. One of the journals I read posted that he was quitting, and even included something to the effect of, "I know it's suspicious that I'm doing this on April Fool's Day, but I really mean it!" My thought at the time was that I'd wait until the next day to see what happened, and sure enough, he posted again on Sunday.

I had a good weekend, if not a great one. The Globetrotters show Friday night was a lot of fun, even the weird racing-dogs halftime show.

Saturday Matt and I puttered around - ran errands, staked bits of our tree, goofed around on the computer. We went over to K.T.'s for the weekly game around 5, but we didn't really get any gaming done. It was Kevin's birthday, so we all had cake and ice cream, which got us all silly and hyper, and Kevin seemed more interested in playing with his toys, and Mike was still working on his character at 9. (Though to be fair we took about an hour and a half to go get dinner.)

It was fine with me. About half the reason I game is for the social interaction, and we were having a lot of fun. Matt had really been in the mood to game, though, and he was a little grumpy about it. When - for no apparent reason - his allergies kicked in, we all packed it in. We went home, changed the clocks, and went to bed.

Sunday was even slower. We did the laundry, watched some videos, read some books. I re-potted my herb garden, took a nap, and checked my mail obsessively, since I was hoping for an update on the Hall situation from Braz. It never did come, alas. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll have a slow day at work.

Why can't I have normal problems? For the past four or so days, I've been constantly burping. Well, not constantly, of course, but at least once every ten minutes or so. It doesn't seem to be affected by anything I'm eating or drinking or doing, and it's kindof annoying. Matt thinks it's kindof funny (he's been trying to teach me how to burb "like a boy") but he's not the one with the constant bubble in his throat. I hope it goes away soon. If anyone out there has any clue what might be causing it, for petesake, tell me!

Word of the Day: peripatetic - of or related to walking; itenerant

As much as I hate to say it, I can see myself becoming the sort of perpetual job-hunter that my father was when I was young. We never actually moved, but Dad had a new job every two or three years. He was never really satisfied with the place he was - always looking for something more.

Despite the corporate climate of today, which favors that sort of peripatetic lifestyle, I actually want to find a company that I think will do right by me - a company that I would be willing to stay with through retirement. My dad found that company in Logicon - he's almost fanatically loyal, now, and has been for over fifteen years.

I thought I'd found that company in 3GI. I enjoyed my work there, most of the time, and thought I was lucky to have found such a great job in such a great company, immediately out of college. And then, of course, 3GI laid me off.

Matt was telling me the other day that one of the managers over at 3GI was asking him if I'd ever consider coming back. Matt told him he didn't think so. And he's probably right - after all, 3GI certainly made it clear to me that it didn't especially value my skills. Why would I want to go back to work for them when it's been made obvious that I'm expendable and will be laid off again when they run into more trouble?

On the other hand...

That's the current corporate climate. I was only burned so bad because I'd been taken in (foolish child that I was) by the optimistic manager-bullshit. No other company is going to value my loyalty, either. And the thought of going back is tempting... I may re-evaluate my position when I've been here at Logicon for a while.