Wednesday, May 31, 2000

31 May 2000

Well, yesterday was a little crazy at work. I was running into a problem that was apparently in Random Mike's code, and while he was helping me track it down, CK came in and told him he had approximately one hour to do something for this other project.

That left me twiddling my thumbs and unable to do anything for about an hour. But about the time he came back, I realized I should've just had him give me his code so I could walk through it and pin-point the place in his code where it was breaking, even if I couldn't figure out why. (Mike's code is all low-level card and cryptography stuff that he and CK put together, and I only understand about a tenth of it, and even then it only makes sense in the most general of terms.)

Apparently, Mike hadn't ever actually used Visual Studio's debugger and was unaware of some of its features. He made impressed noises while I made the computer step through his code one line at a time until we tracked down a couple of problems. (Mind you, he's the one who actually figured out what the problems were and fixed them - all I did was open up the guts of the code so he could see it breaking in detail. It's all about teamwork.)

So after he fixed that, and I plugged in Scary Mike's newest code, I nervously ran the whole program.

And it worked.

First time through. No mistakes. Data was written to the card, and then read back off the card. Everything was good. This does not happen. It was frightening.

But I got to spend the rest of the afternoon working on my project, and today should be fairly relaxed as well.

Life is good.

That'll teach me to get smug about things. Just now I looked down to scratch an itch on my sternum and realized it was caused by the tag of my shirt. Yep. Put my shirt on backwards this morning. Doin' good. Need to go back to bed.

Word of the Day: doyen - the senior member of a group; a person considered to be uniquely skilled as a result of long experience

Is it just me, or does the Word of the Day list seem to have a bias towards French-derived words lately? Or maybe it's because I'm prejudiced against French. (Not the people. Just the language. Actually, French people speaking French doesn't bother me in the slightest, either. I think it's just that French words on an English-speaking tongue are like fingernails on a chalkboard.)

Okay, you caught me. I'm feeling ever-so-slightly melancholy this morning. No, that's not really the right word. I'm not sad. I'm just feeling... quiet. All of a sudden. I don't know why, I just sat down at this computer and fired up the various programs I like to have running and glanced at my mail and got this editor open and ... couldn't think of anything to say.

I mean, there are some things on my mind that aren't really fit for a public journal, either because they're too private or too petty or something like that. But even they aren't getting a lot of processor time this morning. I just want to sit and stare out the window; merge my mind with the trees and the wind.

Tuesday, May 30, 2000

30 May 2000

Matt and I, apparently, are the only people remaining in Williamsburg who still actually buy books.

We've been in need of some new bookshelves for some time, and on Sunday, we piled into Matt's mini-van and went out to get some. The bookshelves we have now that work best are do-it-yourself modular furniture from Rose's, so that's where we went first. Rose's wasn't open just yet - I can never remember if things are going to open early or late on Sundays around here - so we doubled back to stop at the Staples.

I was going to pick up a pad of graph paper and see if they had the hard covers in stock for my Palm. And, since they carry office furniture, we thought we'd see what they had in the way of bookcases.

We have this problem with Staples, and why I keep going in there, I don't know. Every time we go in and find something on display that we want - I'm talking items over $50, here - they never have it in stock. Never. When I went shopping for a PDA, the one I chose wasn't in stock. When we went shopping for a color printer, the one we liked best wasn't in stock. It's gotten to the point where it's almost a game - we try to see how absurdly mundane the item can be.

So anyway, we wandered through the store. I couldn't find the graph paper, and we ended up over by the furniture. They had a bookcase on display that was not only just as good as the model from Rose's, but even better, by dint of being on sale and having five shelves instead of four. We looked it over admiringly, then talked about getting Matt an office chair, and picking up a filing cabinet. I had to walk all the way to the far corner of the store to attract a salesperson's attention. Go on, guess...

They didn't have it in stock.

Oh, well, we said. Guess we'll go to Roses after all. I went and looked for my Palm hard case, and they were...

Well, yeah. And that's only a $30 item! I thought about getting a generic hard case, but it was so bulky it would have made it hard to fit the Palm in my purse, so I decided against.

So we drove back over to the Roses, which by now had not only opened but acquired at least four thousand cars in its parking lot. We went in, talking about finally buying a real ironing board as long as we were there... They had little short two-shelf bookcases, and curio display cabinets with glass doors, but not what we were looking for.

We went to K-Mart. K-Mart didn't even have short two-shelf bookcases. Just entertainment centers.

We went to Target. Target had short two-shelf bookcases. But no tall four- or five-shelf bookcases.

Maybe it's just as well. If any of these places had had what we were looking for, then we'd have given in to our urge to make impulse purchases, and we'd have wound up with graph paper, an office chair, a filing cabinet, a Palm hard case, an ironing board, and a new super soaker, and I don't know how we'd have fit it all in the van.

Matt decided, since we'd liked the bookcase Staples didn't have, and since they at least had one to display, he'd try to order bookcases from Staples' website. He found the two bookcases on the website that were six feet tall and had five shelves. One of them was only eighteen inches wide, so we nixxed it, leaving us with what was probably the same model we'd seen in the Staples store.

He called me in to select a color. He typed "2" in the quantity field, and clicked on the "Add to Shopping Cart" icon...

An error message popped up to the effect that they didn't have this in stock.

Luckily, this turned out to be an error brought on by a lousy shopping-cart program. When he attempted to add the bookcases one at a time, it went through just fine. So we should have our bookcases by the end of the week.

And they'll be good, damn it.

We went on Monday to see Mission Impossible 2 with K.T. and Kevin. Those of you who know me well know that I'm not really the biggest fan of action movies. I will only go to them if they're also comedies, or have actual plots. But the Mission Impossible series is well-known for bucking the spy/action tradition by actually having well-thought-out plots. I'd enjoyed the movie a few years ago immensely.

Friends warned me last week that this movie hadn't really been done in the traditional "intellectual action" vein - that it bore far more resemblance to James Bond than Mission Impossible. Well, I like James Bond movies too; I'm a sucker for eye-candy and gadgets, and as long as I know what I'm getting into, I won't be too disappointed.

So, if you think of this movie like a James Bond movie, then it was pretty good. Explosions and gadgets and vehicle chases and sex and fistfights and underground fortresses... Fun, in a brainless kind of way. But if you're expecting a Mission Impossible intellectual, stay home.

I bothered the hell out of poor Matt. I have this tendency during action movies to be suddenly struck at random moments with the sheer ludicrousness of it all and start giggling. Usually during overchoreographed fight scenes. During the car chase, they showed us at least three times that a bad guy had Ethan lined up exactly in his gun's sights, and then he missed. The phrase that kept running through my brain was, "Only imperial stormtroopers are so precise."

Oh, and a note to the directors and producers: I'm sure Sony paid well for their product placement, but that digital camera looked pretty crappy next to the other gadgets. You should at least have come up with a smaller body for it and slapped Sony's name on it. Here's a clue, guys: The people familiar with the technology want to see something cooler than what's already available. The other people are going to be impressed by just about anything, or else don't care at all.

Actually, I liked the movie. It was rather longer than it needed to be, and had some plot holes, but I feel that way about just about every action movie. I just hope the next one is up to the Mission Impossible standard.

Word of the Day: cozen - to gain by artful coaxing or tricky deception

I was so damn clever. We needed boullion. We were out, we needed some. And I'd been simply craving some tortilla chips. Not just any tortilla chips, though - Tostito's Hint of Lime chips. For days, I'd wanted them.

So I cooly decided Sunday afternoon to slip out to the grocery store for the boullion and - not incidently - the chips. As I was pulling out of the neighborhood, a thought struck me: the latest grocery-store item that our usual grocery store has stopped carrying just because Matt and I like it is a certain kind of popcicles. Edy's lime popcicles, to be precise. We like them because they're actually sour.

I figured, in order to cozen Matt into not giving me a hard time about the chips, I'd wow him by going to the other grocery store down the road and picking up a box or two of our favorite popcicles.

It almost worked. The other store did have the popcicles, and the boullion... But not the chips. Damn. I bought what I had anyway, and went home.

So Monday, doing the grocery shopping, I decided I wouldn't bother trying to be subtle. I'd just go buy the darn chips. I walked down the snack-food aisle... No Hint of Lime chips. Aaaah! They've been replaced with Hint of Roasted Red Pepper! Aaaah! No good! I hate peppers! Aaaah!

That's what I get, I guess, for trying to be tricky.

Friday, May 26, 2000

26 May 2000

Monday's a holiday for me, so don't panic if I don't write, because I probably won't unless we have an amazingly busy weekend.

I had an almost astonishingly productive morning yesterday, but when I'd finished, I was afraid to try to test the results. So that's what I have to do today - test yesterday's code, and make a couple more minor changes so I can finish it all up. Luckily, they pushed the deadline back to next Friday, or I probably wouldn't have been able to finish in time.

Not without working afternoons, at any rate.

I was sortof thinking about jobs yesterday. Kris and I talk about work occasionally, because even though our jobs have nothing to do with each other, I'm sortof jealous of her situation. She's a part-time nurse who more or less gets to pick her own hours. I love that idea, that freedom.

We talked about telecommuting. I'd love to telecommute part-time. I work so much better when things are quiet and I'm not being interrupted or distracted. Ideally, I'd telecommute two or three days a week - that way, I wouldn't be out of touch with the office, I could still confer with other people on my team and attend meetings and that kind of thing, but I'd actually be able to get some work done when it was necessary, too.

Anyway, the conversation got me thinking, and I sortof started thinking about sending my resume around, just to see if I got any nibbles; to find out if I could land a job with a telecommuting option. And then I kept thinking, because while I like building algorithms and designing interfaces, the actual programming part of the job is tedious and boring.

And I started thinking about teaching again.

It always comes back to teaching. I love to teach. I'm actually pretty good at it. There are enough business colleges and community colleges in this area that I could probably get a job teaching fairly easily. Heck, I have a master's degree in mathematics - most of the local public schools would hire me sight-unseen and pay for me to take the three or so classes I'd need to be certified as a teacher, they're so desperate for teachers in general and math teachers in particular.

But it would cut my pay in half. (Approximately, depending on where I wound up.) And the benefits aren't nearly as nice. A little idle figuring (because that's what us mathematicians do) tells me that either Matt or I alone could pay the mortgage on the house right now if it weren't for Matt's student loans, but I'm not sure I wouldn't feel like a sponge if I suddenly took a massive pay cut in order to pursue a job that I only think I'd like better than the one I've got now.

(For damn sure if I were a teacher I wouldn't be able to spend as much time online during the day.)

So I'm chickening out once again. But it's kindof hard to watch my colleagues, who are so obviously doing exactly what they want to do with their lives. They love programming and computers in a way that I think I never will. And it will be forty years before I can even think of retiring.

Word of the Day: collywobbles - bellyache

Now that's interesting. The definition, that is. I tend to learn the meanings of words through context instead of looking them up, and I've always thought that collywobbles meant something along the lines of butterflies in one's stomach. Not an ache, but a general uneasy feeling.

I get touchy about meanings of things. My second reason for never reading another David Eddings book is his frequent mis-use of the word "bleak." He uses it a lot when what he really wants to say is "grim." But while they're similar, and there are certainly occasions when either word is appropriate, "bleak" to me has connotations of sadness or depression, and Eddings kept using it when the overall feel he wanted to convey was anger and implacability. It was like hitting a speed bump - being jolted out of the story. (My first reason has to do with the fact that he's only got one real plot and a pretty limited selection of personalities, so once you've read one David Eddings series, you've read them all. But that's a rant for another day.)

Thursday, May 25, 2000

25 May 2000

Dreams. Two of them, last night, both so vivid I woke ready for action. They were similar, but whether that's because the second was influenced by my thoughts about the first, or because God or the Tao or the Greater Self was trying to send me a message, I can't say.

I won't go into detail on the first. Most of it was irrelevant. It involved what I called a "spa" in the dream, but looked like an indoor swimming pool, most of it about five feet deep or so - if I stood on my tiptoes, my head was just barely out of the water. The sides of the pool were built up with fake rocks, and at some point I became aware that eventually we'd need to get out of the pool, and I wanted to be in the corner of the room. I climbed up the rocks and sat in a shallow depression at the top. Some people joined me, and I was just introducing some of them to each other when I heard an announcement. "EVERYONE TO THE WALLS!" I was already out of the pool. I watched.

On the sides of the pool were two wide ledges. A lot of the people in the pool didn't seem to understand that they had to get out of the water. When the bottom of the pool opened up, they had to scramble for safe places. The bottom of the pool slid open into a kind of chute, water pouring down into a vast pit of nothingness. The pool didn't entirely empty - water kept coming from somewhere (like watching a toilet flush, actually), and I could tell, watching the people sitting on the lip of the chasm, that the water had turned freezing cold.

Then I saw, at the very base of the pool, four people who had actually gone over the ledge. They were hanging on to the edge of the chute, each only using one hand, apparently unable to move enough under the torrent of water to even bring their second hands up to hang on. I could see their faces very clearly - if I were an artist, I could have painted them in the moments after I woke up - each one was a study in horror and fear and fury. They were crying and cursing, and I knew that they were my responsibility, because I had allowed this to happen.

When I woke up, I was awake for a long time, unable to get those faces out of my mind, especially the girl on the end, who I knew had been pleading for help even though I couldn't hear her.

The second dream came almost immediately after I'd fallen back asleep.

There's a wide, deep ditch behind our house - if you go to the photo album and look at the pictures I took during the hurricane in September, you can see it. In the dream, I was standing in our guest bedroom looking out at the ditch. It was mostly full - maybe six inches from being completely full, and the thing is a good four or five feet deep at its center. I was feeling tranquil, unworried, watching the grass sortof sway under the water as the water rushed along.

I looked "upstream" and saw something small and black floating in the water. As it got a little closer, I identified it as a kitten - a black and white kitten, floating in the water, legs splayed out. Oh, that's so sad, I thought.

Then I saw that its front legs were moving, slightly. It was still alive, caught up in the stream and trying to swim to safety.

I woke up instantly, hoping I had enough time to run downstairs and outside around to the ditch to rescue it. It took me several minutes before I realized it wasn't real - that it wasn't even sprinkling outside, much less raining hard enough to fill the ditch.

Drowning imagery is pretty obvious, usually, in dreams. But in these, I was never in any danger. It was someone else who was drowning, being swept away by the tides - people and creatures I didn't even know. And yet, I was responsible in some way, not for putting them into their situations, but for getting them out.

I don't know if they were supposed to be messages. I hope not. Since I woke up for good this morning, I've been feeling this kind of tightness in my chest, like anticipation, but I don't know what I'm anticipating. Maybe it's just exhaustion; between staying up late and the time I spent awake after the dreams, I think I only got about five hours of sleep.

If anything happens, I'll let you know.

Word of the Day: continual - continuing indefinitely without interruption; recurring in steady and rapid succession

I am continually amazed at the universe around me. I would try to explain that, but I don't think I can. If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean. If you don't... I'm sorry.

Wednesday, May 24, 2000

24 May 2000

I put a sign on my computer yesterday with a big "ATTENTION" and a message explaining that I was irritable and busy and didn't want to be talked to. It didn't stop the managers from coming in and having casual conversations with my officemate, but at least they didn't try to talk to me. One other programmer came in about four times looking for one or the other officemate and tried to strike up a conversation with me every time. Even after I glared at him and pointed at my sign. I guess I need to work on my glaring skills.

I've got to make a relatively major change to my program's interface before Friday, and for no apparent reason my hardware isn't working correctly. (Not the computer, but the peripheral stuff the program uses.) So this will be fun. I'd like to have it all at what I call test-level A by the time I leave here Thursday, which is to say everything works correctly if used correctly. I'll worry about abuses of the software on Friday.

(Should I mention that I wish we had a real testing department over here? I loathe testing, I really do.)

So Matt and I had a talk yesterday about any number of things, including his dissatisfaction with the MeadeHall story and my burgeoning friendship with his best friend, and I learned and confirmed many things about my husband. My fears that he might be jealous about that friendship were entirely groundless, based on my projection of how I'd feel in the same situation rather than on any knowledge of Matt's feelings.

I would say it makes him a nobler person than I, and that might even be true, but I think what it really boils down to is this: he's an extrovert while I fall solidly into the introvert category.

A lot of people turn out to be surprised that I'm introverted, which is kindof funny. When I'm with a crowd of my friends, I'm among the loudest and most forward. In situations with well-defined etiquettes, like business meetings or job interviews, I'm very relaxed and open. So a lot of people who've never met me before think I'm a real extrovert. And people who've forgotten the first time they met me, or who met me when I was surrounded by a buffer zone of close friends, are always sortof surprised when I don't want to go out to do things or respond neutrally to meeting other new people. But the truth is, if I'm in a social situation and don't know at least three or four people there very well, I'm likely to wind up sitting in a corner somewhere talking to the wall.

Introversion may or may not have anything to do with self-confidence. I've been trying to change both over the past many years, and have made some progress. But not a lot.

And that's why, when two of my friends that have never met before get together and start getting to know each other, forming a friendship that isn't predicated on my interference, I get nervous and jealous. It's not that I want to be the center of their attention, but that if they become friends with each other, then they might forget about me. (It's not altogether absurd. It's happened to me with more casual friends.) And then, because at least part of my brain is rational and detatched at all times no matter what the situation, I realize that I'm being absurd and petty and selfish. Which makes me mad at myself. Which reduces my self-confidence, which makes me even more desperate to keep my friends to myself.

Really, sometimes, I'm not a very good person. Rationally, I know it's absurd. My real friends aren't going to stop liking me just because they met someone new. So I try to hide my feelings from them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't - sometimes I get snippy and irritable. I think that's why I was projecting that reaction onto Matt. He's been sortof snippy and irritable for a while.

But I was wrong. He's been snippy and irritable about something else altogether, and we talked it over, and we're all fine now, I think. But he's a better person than I am, sometimes.

Word of the Day: canard - a false or unfounded report or story; especially a fabricated report

I wish I could get the word of the day without the example sentence, or with spoiler whitespace before the sentence or something. It happens at least twice a week that I'll open up the mail and read the word and its definition and then scan the sentence before closing it down. And then the only thing I can think of to talk about is that sentence.

Maybe it's a canard that I actually know what I'm doing, here...

Tuesday, May 23, 2000

23 May 2000

The "cleaning fairies" come today, thank goodness, because someone - possibly even me - threw some food away in the big trashcan in the living room, and it's starting to smell disgusting.

The upside of that is that as soon as I went downstairs this morning, I remembered to write the check for the cleaning crew.

Got Meade?So, Braz's MeadeHall plot wrapped up last night. It's not completely over, of course - there are loose threads still dangling all over the place, and there are some repercussions that will echo for a good long while - but the meat of the plot is pretty well under wraps. I was a little surprised that it ended so quietly, but I think Matt, who could've forced things to drag out quite a bit longer, was just getting tired and wanted it done.

K.T. started making movements on her plot last night as well. But she's said she's going to use her plot to pick up some of the people who kindof got left by the wayside when Braz's plot really picked up, so I'm trying to stay on the periphery of it. (It's hard, because Tyl is one of Zoya's best friends, but then Zoya has quite a few other things to worry about just now, so I don't have to yank on the reins too hard. K.T. and I agreed that Zoya might be occasionally involved, collecting information no one else can get, or if she's asked for help. It's fine with me. I've been agonizing over Braz's plot for so long now that I'm really ready for a bit of a break. I'm looking forward to spending a few weeks or a month on the Hall just having my drink and watching the action and being ready if they need me - but not butting in.

(Truth to tell, I was trying to stay mostly out of the way on Braz's plot, that first night. Someone - and I'm not naming any names - prodded me into action. Playing a priestess of a god intimately connected with the Hall has its drawbacks.)

I hope it stays quiet at work today. Yesterday the managers kept having long discussions in the hallway right outside my door, or carrying the conversation into my office for no good reason. Co-workers came into my little sectioned-off corner of the office, which I really hate unless I've asked them there, and worst of all, they kept taking away my mouse in order to show me things.

I have my projects to do. I know what they are. I've scheduled out when I'm going to be doing them. I like to work in quiet, and I hate being interrupted.

Open letter to all managers and co-workers: The best way to contact me is to send e-mail, and then shut up and wait. Not, send e-mail and then immediately come over and ask if I got it, leaning over to look at my computer screen to see for yourself. If you do that again, I will be forced to rip your head from your body and use the skull for a planter and your brains to fertilize my lawn.

Not that I'm irritated about it or anything.

Word of the Day: draconian - cruel, severe

I always get a laugh when the word of the day is a word I've used before. Of course, then I get confused: Should I continue to try to write a paragraph or two? Or has it been adequately discussed?

In this case, I think I'll expand on the original topic, which was a discusson of Logicon's moderately draconian internet usage policies. Naturally, as is usually the case with corporate policies of this sort, it didn't take me long to learn that the purpose of the policy was to give them an excuse to come down on people who weren't doing their jobs anyway - that is, sortof like our local seatbelt law: They can't pull you over for not wearing a seatbelt, but if you get pulled for speeding, say, and aren't wearing a seatbelt, you can get a ticket for both offenses.

I've spent whole days surfing the Internet and chatting on IM with friends, and I know for a fact that I'm not the only one. I upload my journal entry every morning from work. They don't care, as long as my work gets done on time and I'm not sucking down bandwidth or setting the company up for a lawsuit by downloading pornography.

I'm still a little leery about installing software on the company machine, because I know they have a crawler program that goes through the registries and looks for shareware and games. But that's all right. I'm not interested in getting into any Quake deathmatches at work. I've got a couple of little baby games installed on my Zip disk that don't require a link to the registry for when I get bored. (Besides, when I'm bored at work I'm more likely to write than play games anyway. It sounds busier.)

So I guess it's not too bad. The policies themselves are draconian, but they aren't really enforced unless someone crosses the line or they need to make an example of someone.

Kindof like the speed limit laws, actually.

Monday, May 22, 2000

22 May 2000

It was a good weekend, for the most part. Quiet.

Friday evening Matt and I picked up some Chinese food and rented The Iron Giant. If you haven't seen it, go see it! It was wonderful. But it made me bawl like a baby. Usually when a movie gets me teary-eyed, I have a few tears leak out of the corners of my eyes, and I sniffle a little and wipe the tears away and keep going.

Hah. This time I was crying so hard I couldn't even see the climactic moment. I wouldn't have been able to see it even if I hadn't had my face buried in Matt's shirt. This wasn't "weeping" - this was sobbing. I'm glad they ended it on a slightly more upbeat note, because otherwise I'd probably still be depressed. (If it hadn't been a kids' movie, they probably wouldn't have bothered.)

Still. Go see it, and take a hanky.

I got on IM after the movie and wound up talking to Karen and Jeff. Jeff reminded me that I cry at movies even when I know what's going to happen in advance. His specific example was Cyrano, though there are other movies for which that holds true. He's right. I'm an incurable romantic. I'd say I was a hopeless romantic, but that's not accurate - the reason I always cry at the end of Cyrano is because despite knowing what's coming, I always hope that this time, it will be different.

Braz logged on a little later, and I wound up staying up fairly late chatting with him. (No, not until 4 again!) We started talking about the MeadeHall, but the conversation wandered all over the place - religion and marriage and school memories. I have been constantly astonished by Braz for the past several weeks. Until fairly recently, he was pretty firmly installed in my mind as someone who my friend because he was Matt's best friend - that crazy, fun, silly guy who comes to visit every so often with his sweet wife. And that's about all there was to Braz, as far as I was concerned.

And then recently, in the past couple of months, we started talking more and more. Mostly because of the MeadeHall plot, I grant. But the subject didn't always stay there, and I started learning more about him, and it turned out that there were depths to him that I never would have suspected. Intrigued, I kept talking and listening, and it seems now that he is shifting solidly from being "my husband's best friend" to "my good friend." I'm excited. I don't make friends very quickly or easily.

My only concern is that Matt might be... Jealous is too strong a word, but perhaps a little envious, because we spend so much time talking. But I wasn't kidding the other week when I said the two of them practically operate with a hive mind. I'm still working on getting a frame of reference. Besides, Matt is amazing and understanding and resilient. He managed to accept the fact that my closest female friend was his ex-girlfriend. Surely he can come to grips with my making friends with his best friend.

Wow. That was way too philosophical for a Monday morning. Sorry.

Anyway, I spent Saturday lounging around in glorious sluggitude. I chatted on IM between reading chapters of Cryptonomicon (which I can only read for about a chapter at a time before I have to stop and digest it) and watching television. I put together a character for K.T.'s Vampire one-shot game, and around four or so we went over to her place and gamed.

The game was fun, if a little silly. It was good to see Greg again, since he's been out of games for the past six weeks or so with serious problems that turned out to be hypoglycemia. (Which relieved us to no end, because apparently the doctors had been bandying about phrases like "brain tumor." Ack!)

I got restless around the end of the game, and we went home almost right after it ended. (Diet Dr. Pepper and about half a pound of salt water taffy. If only I'd known, back in my cramming days.) I wound up staying up late working on a story I'm writing that's sortof based on the MeadeHall plot. (Oh, it feels wonderful to be writing again, even if half of what comes out of the word processor is crap or drivel.)

Sunday was pretty lazy as well, especially since I managed to grab a nap in the afternoon and Matt did most of the laundry while I slept. (I said he was amazing, didn't I?)

But, darn it, the weekend was still too short, and I really want to go back home and crawl into bed and snuggle with my sweetie!

Word of the Day: moil - to work hard, to drudge; to be in continuous agitation

I would whine about the moiling I'll be doing at work this week, except I honestly don't think most of it will take very long once I get going.

Getting going, on the other hand, could be a herculean effort.

Friday, May 19, 2000

19 May 2000

So, Jeremy, you got your break from extreme weirdness, so you're okay if I go back to it now, right?

Just kidding.

I was really tired yesterday. I mean, just exhausted. And I don't know why, really - I'd gotten a decent amount of sleep the night before, the cat hadn't been any more obnoxious than usual...

But I actually have some work to do on my project at work, and I picked up what should have been a fairly simple task yesterday - converting about two pages of someone else's code so it works with my program - and couldn't get more than five lines into it before I got confused and had to back up.

I took it home with me, thinking that if there was a lull, I might sit down and look it over and try to separate out the major sections, at least. I'm sure you can guess how much good that did me - it never even came out of my briefcase.

I hope I can muster up some concentration today. Despite the fact that I don't want to work on anything, this stuff needs to be done!

We watched Mulan last night with Tristan and Heather - Tristan hadn't seen it before. I found myself tearing up a few times. It's a great movie, and a huge departure from a lot of Disney's most annoying habits.

Word of the Day: weird - magical or supernatural; strange or extraordinary

Weird? Weird is a word worthy of the word of the day? (Wow, how was that for alliteration?) Maybe most people aren't familiar with its older, magical definition.

At any rate, my friends and I have all amply covered "weird" - in both definitions. I don't think I need to say any more on the subject, really.

Thursday, May 18, 2000

18 May 2000

I got mail from Jeremy yesterday in which he expressed some dismay at the overabundance of weirdness, lately. Tantric sex, helicopters, seemingly well-adjusted people taking a role-playing game entirely too seriously... I promised him I'd try not to weird him out today. (Though Jeremy's re-reading Cryptonomicon lately, so he's feeling vaguely paranoid anyway. I could probably weird him out just by moving the Sitemeter link to another corner of the page.)

So, today I'll work on this month's On Display collaboration. The topic for May is "What is most disappointing about where you live?"

It's intended to be a political question. Indeed, when first proposed to the mailing list, it was phrased, "...and that was the most disappointed I've ever been with my country." There were protests, mine among them. Mark Twain once said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Sound advice. I don't know enough about politics or government to discuss it intelligently, and so I'd rather just remain silent on the topic.

So I'm going to talk about apartments and houses. Though the word "disappointing" isn't really quite right. Disappointment seems to me to convey the thought that something better was expected. The homes that have failed me, failed me almost immediately.

My first apartment was undoubtedly the worst. What can I say? I was young and stupid. The first and worst flood happened less than a month after I moved in. This wasn't rainwater that seeped under the door - this was bad plumbing. The pipes for the toilets would cease working and water (thank all the gods, never sewage) would back up and pour by the gallon out of the bowls. After we'd been there a few months, it got to be a regular routine for us to shut off the water valves to the toilets before we went to bed. I've lost touch with one roommate, but K.T. and I both to this day get nervous at the sound of bubbling water.

The management, knowing we were college students who would be gone in a year, didn't care. We flooded - if I'm remembering correctly - eight times. The management sent someone out with a wet-vac exactly twice. Nothing was fixed. We had terrible roach problems. The ceiling in the main bathroom actually caved in before they were willing to fix the water damage. The heater broke, and it took them a week to fix it. In the meantime, whenever we were home, we'd sit in the kitchen with the oven on. (We didn't pay the gas bill, thank heavens.)

Everyone should have a hell-hole of an apartment just once, to make them appreciate the better ones. That was mine. I suppose it could have been worse, but they'd have had to work at it. I don't know that I was ever disappointed with it, though. The first time we had a problem, I hoped it was an anomoly. The second time might have been a disappointment. By the third or fourth, though, I merely felt the heavy weight of resignation on my shoulders.

My second apartment, I liked. It was decorated in hideously ugly colors, but I didn't have any problems with the apartment itself.

My third apartment, the one I lived in for three and a half years after I came back to Williamsburg, had its problems. Less than two weeks after I moved in, I had a termite swarm in the kitchen. We had the Neighbors From Hell for one year, who brought with them loud, awful music, constant shouting out the windows, and a cockroach infestation. Toward the end of our time there, the air conditioner kept leaking water all over the floor. The termites never did go away - we had one major swarm and two minor ones every March. It was entirely too small a place for us.

But it was never the hell that the first apartment had been.

Now, we have our house. Those of you who have been with this journal since the beginning, or who read all the archives, know that the building of it was rife with disappointment. Nothing was completed on time. We had to almost physically threaten the builder to move in when we were supposed to. We still have one door that doesn't go anywhere, bare lightbulbs in the computer room, a sheet of plexiglass over one window in the dining room that was put up as a safety consideration, and no actual grass growing in our yard.

There have been a number of disappointments with the house - things that broke or didn't operate the way we expected them to. But I must say, the joys of being a homeowner have, in fact, outweighed the disappointments.

Word of the Day: mettlesome - full of vigor and stamina; spirited

"And I've have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those-" Oh, wait, that's meddlesome.

Wednesday, May 17, 2000

17 May 2000

Got Meade?I lied. The big climax of Braz's plot was last night. I didn't mean to lie, but Braz decided that things were moving too quickly for him to stall it another week, and so they came to a head last night.

As Hall battles go, it was more or less typical - one giant maelstrom of violent confusion. There were some islands of inactivity in the less experienced patrons, who were one and all commanded to stay out of the way by their superiors.

I got wrapped up in it and excited and got to pull the stunt I've been contemplating for approximately a month now, which was cool. I was rude to Jeff when it looked like his character Michelle was going to screw it up for me, though, which was not. (We worked it out through messages, but because I really feel bad about it, I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Jeff. If nothing else, I could have phrased my warn-away more tactfully.)

And then, just when I thought things might possibly wrap up neatly and nicely, Braz dropped yet another bomb in my lap. (Keep it up, Braz, and I won't have a lap left.) Actually, it wasn't really a bomb. It was a stick of dynamite I'd been holding and hoping he wouldn't light the fuse. I'd seen the possibility coming, or I'd probably be really angry with Braz right now. As it is, I'm just kindof sad.

And the really funny thing is, two or three months ago, when this plot was just getting underway and Zoya was just starting down the slippery slope, I wrote a little vignette that had three separate endings, because those were the possibilities I could see at the time. Then some other stuff happened, and it looked like those endings couldn't possibly fit into what Braz had planned, so I abandoned them in favor of other possibilities.

They're back. They'll need a nip and a tuck to really fit, but by and large, I'm back to those three endings, as far as Zoya's concerned. And the only one of them that could rightfully be considered a "happy" ending seems pretty unlikely right now. One of them is tragic, because it has every likely hood of not only breaking Zoya's heart but ruining a friendship. And the third is bittersweet, and might have been almost a happy ending if it had happened six or eight weeks ago, but now is going to be more bitter than sweet.

By all rights, I should be cursing Braz right now. Zoya's been an emotional hermit for the past ten years, and Marten, by main force, was dragging her inch by inch out of that. And the endgame I fear is only going to serve to undo all that, and probably set her back even further. Worse, I can't even just accept that, because I'm an incurable romantic and Zoya's grown enough over the course of this thing to still dare to hope that this might yet turn out well, despite the fact that she's seen every man she ever loved - except one - destroyed before her eyes, and she left the one.

And there are other repercussions having nothing to do with Zoya's romantic life. Unless it turns out that the ghost controlling Jaret was controlling him entirely, Zoya's going to be extremely angry with Jaret for not telling her about it when she asked him. If they'd known for certain about that ghost, and who he was, they might have been able to plan a less traumatic confrontation. Zoya's trust for Jaret is perched on the windowsill and ready to fly. And the tragedy is that she's not the only one who feels this way. When Patrons stop trusting each other, that's sad. Glossaria's kidnapping and Vallel's foolhardy rush to her rescue has made Zoya somewhat overprotective, and it will be a while before she can force herself to let Glossaria go again.

Yep. By all rights I should be calling Braz any number of unflattering things. But I can't, really.

To curse him now would be tantamount to cursing the story itself. And despite its massive potential for tragedy, it's been too good to call down adminaversions upon it.

Damn you, Braz.

So, Matt's friend Tristan and his wife Heather are supposed to come to town today and stay with us for a couple of nights. I'm looking forward to it - Tristan's a card, and what I got to know of Heather the couple of times I met her were promising.

But Matt and I realized last night that Tristan and Heather don't know where we live. We brought them by once, before construction on the house even started, to show them our dirt - but who's going to remember that? Matt says he never gave Tristan any directions, and we aren't sure he even knows our mailing address.

So I hope they have something to do during the day today, before we get home and they can call us.

Word of the Day: adminaversion - a critical and censorious remark; adverse criticism

I already used it, up above. Did you see it and stumble over it, or were you just skimming?

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

16 May 2000

Got Meade?Well, since there was a message on the answering machine yesterday evening from Tristan saying that they wouldn't be coming to stay with us until Wednesday after all, Matt and I popped out a quick note to the MeadeHall mailing list explaining that we could be online at the usual time. Not everyone got the mail in time, so we didn't actually have a Hall session - we just sat around on the usual IRC location chatting and having private messages, some of which might even have been Hall-related.

Jeff told me that Braz told him that all the clues were already in play, somewhere, and that I actually had most them. My response to Jeff was something along the lines of, "Sure, I have a pretty good idea of what's going on. But not one of those clues tells me how we can possibly get out of this with a relatively happy ending."

That's the goal, of course. It's ending soon; Braz already admitted that he couldn't stretch things out much longer - not with us pestering him on a near-hourly basis for details and reactions. He swore it wouldn't be this week, but thought it might be next week, and was certain it would be done by the end of the month.

And the killer is, I think I can see how to get a happy ending out of it. But it would only work if Braz does what I think he's going to do, and if no one else interferes. But even then, the repercussions could get ugly. And Braz has been driving me bezerk for weeks now by not doing what I think he's going to do, and for months now, the others have been interfering.

We're having a session tonight, approximately twelve hours from now, as I write this. I'm already getting nervous, because I haven't had anything explode in my lap for a few while now, and it's overdue.

Yeah. Obsessed.

An open letter to Braz:

It's all over.

Matt figured it out. Every bit of it, he figured out as we were driving to the grocery store yesterday: How I don't really go to work in the mornings, but go to Lynchburg instead. He thought at first that the fact that I get hopelessly lost every time we go to Lynchburg to visit is actually an elaborate ruse, to cover the fact that I drive there every day to carry on our torrid affair, but then he realized that my dad sees me in the afternoons, and there's just no way I could drive to Lynchburg and be back before two every day.

But there's the helicopter, isn't there? I don't know how he figured it out, but he did, and now he knows how all the details fit together - my officemates that don't come to work until ten, my frequent "visits" to the other office, my getting lost in Lynchburg because I'm used to navigating from the sky, my insistence that I don't actually have any work to do at work... So now he knows about the affair we've been carrying on every morning.

But that's not why it's over.

It's over because he was so distraught at the news that he let slip about the affair you're having with him, in the afternoons.

You cheap hussy.

So sometimes in the mornings I have this little contest with myself.

See, Matt and I take turns making lunches. And the person who's not making lunch on a given day gets the shower first. So, since it usually takes longer to take a shower than to make lunch, it would seem logical that the person showering first would get up first.

But of course, that's not quite how it happens. Usually what happens is that after the alarm goes off the second or third time, I get up, rub my eyes, and shuffle either into the bathroom or down the stairs, depending on whether I'm supposed to be making lunches or showering first. Once I'm up, apparently there is no need for Matt to stay in bed, so then he gets up and shuffles off down the stairs or into the bathroom accordingly.

Every now and then, when it's Matt's turn to shower first, I decide I'm going to stay in bed until he gets up. Sometimes, this is actually successful.

This morning, Matt decided to snuggle. Now, don't get me wrong - I love my husband, and I greatly enjoy snuggling with him on cozy mornings. But after the fourth time the alarm went off, I started to get antsy that we were running late. But - in the hazy way that the stupidest things can be vitally important before you wake all the way up - I was not going to get out of bed first. So I had to nag him to get up. Subtly, of course, because the idea was also that he do it on his own.

He did eventually get up. But I only get half a point, because nagging, however subtle, is cheating.

Word of the Day: inflammable - easily inflamed or ignited

Oh, this is one of Matt's pet peeves, so I should leave it to him. He'd come up with a few paragraphs that were witty and hilariously funny, and you'd go on about your life without ever using the word "flammable" again. But since he doesn't write a Word of the Day, it's up to me.

Matt insists that "flammable" isn't a word - that it was made up because some idiot worried that even bigger idiots would believe the "in" in inflammable meant not. I think he said he learned this from Strunk and White, but the first time I can remember him raving about it to me was after we'd seen Harlan Ellison rant about it on some TV program, so I always associate it with that.

Me? I use "flammable." My tongue trips over inflammable, and besides, flammable's been a word in common usage for almost two hundred years. The words "radar" and "laser" are much younger than that, and he doesn't have a problem with them. The fact that both flammable and inflammable are in common useage and that they sound like opposites means that there's a lot of confusion.

So in the interest of compromise, here's my public service announcement for today: inflammable and flammable mean the same thing. Don't go jumping through any flaming hoops while wearing an inflammable outfit.

Monday, May 15, 2000

15 May 2000

Good weekend. Friday I ran some errands (including registering my car so I don't get pulled over again) and when Matt came home from work at lunchtime, the four of us had lunch at Subway and then stopped at the comic shop. We didn't linger too terribly long, though I suspect it was about ten times as long as Kris would've liked to have taken.

Friday evening we went up to the Corner Pocket, which is a pool hall. We played the Brooks vs. the Brandts, and Matt and I won - by the skin of our teeth! - both times, which surprised me, because Braz apparently plays pool on a fairly regular basis. But the table at Corner Pocket wasn't very good - the balls neither rolled nor bounced true, so almost no shots relying on reflections worked. We quit when it became obvious that Matt was getting a little overly competitive and Braz was getting extremely frustrated at missing shots because of the table.

We went to Uno's for dinner, which is something of a tradition when they come to visit. I was a little leery - the last time Matt and I were at Uno's, my meal had been sloppily prepared and not very good - but this time was an improvement. The waitress screwed up at the beginning and brought Kris and Matt flat soda water instead of real water, which was really gross. And the cook still needs a refresher course on the definition of rare as opposed to, say, medium. Sometime when I'm less hungry, I'll send it back until they get it right, just on principle. But once we got all of our drinks and food, we were pretty happy with it.

Saturday, we had plans to go to a party at Braz's sister's apartment in the evening, and we'd been told to expect a lot of food. We decided to eat a big lunch, and rely on the party food for dinner. So we went to the Backfin for lunch, which I've never left without groaning about how full I am. Braz was badly disappointed when he asked for steamed shrimp and was told that they don't turn on the steamer at lunchtime - and then further disappointed when the broiled shrimp platter only contained five shrimp. (I thought it looked pretty chintzy, myself.) But he forgave them after having their Key Lime pie for dessert, and both he and Kris agreed that the cornbread and hushpuppies were almost worth the trip by themselves.

Kris wanted to stop in at Target to pick up a t-shirt. While we were there, I found a vase to give my mother for Mother's Day, and Matt and Braz found the mother of all super-soakers. This thing was at least four feet long, as big around as my thigh, and had a fold-out tripod, for petesake, to help you aim. It was $50. After some discussion, they each settled on a smaller (but still enormous) gun, around $25. Kris decided to pick up water-pistols and goggles for Whitney and her fiancé Stuart. Then we prepared to go to the party.

We'd been told at first that this was Whitney's party. (Whitney being Braz's sister, who was graduating from William and Mary.) Then she told us that it was the party of one of her roommates. Then we found out that it was actually being thrown by the roommate's mother. Every iteration made us feel a little less certain about the party. When we got to Whitney's apartment, it was completely packed, from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, with peoples' relatives. There were several kids around the age of six, and I'm sure I saw someone's great-grandmother holding court in one corner of the living room.

Whitney looked at us with desperation. She didn't even know the college students to whom most of the relatives belonged, much less any of the relatives. Most of us didn't brave the living room - Matt and Braz managed to cross it in search of drinks, but discovered that there was no soda; only beer. (What the six-year-olds were drinking, I'm sure I don't want to know.) The food looked good, but we didn't want to go into the living room to get it. After a little while, we escaped upstairs to Whitney's room, where she and Stuart opened their presents and we suggested going back to our house for a water-fight.

Given the heat of the day and the extraordinary lameness of the party, she and Stuart both thought this was a fantastic idea. I gave them directions, and we left. They came about half an hour behind us after finding a change of clothes and making their polite exits.

Between the six of us, we had two monster water-guns, two water-pistols that would've been pretty impressive if they hadn't been stacked against the monster cannons, and several little squishy balls which were meant to be dunked in water and then thrown. There had been some talk of teams, but before we could actually organize anything, it had turned into a free-for-all. In self-defense, I found myself weilding the bucket we'd filled for the squishy-balls. Matt eventually found the spray nozzle for the hose and used it indiscriminately. We formed temporary alliances to cover each others' backs while we refilled, and betrayed the alliances almost immediately.

By the time we were all too tired to continue (except perhaps Stuart, who seemed to have boundless energy but was running out of people to shoot who weren't sitting gasping on the porch) we were all completely drenched. It was fun.

Sunday morning, Braz and I discovered that the drug store chain CVS is truly an astonishing place. I'd had a problem with one of my prescriptions, and asked my doctor's office to call in a replacement. Since Braz was going to the store to pick some things up anyway, he was nice enough to take me to the CVS.

The first thing we saw as we went into the CVS was a smallish box labelled Spirituality. "You always thought spirituality was something that required study and faith," Braz told me. "Little did you know that all you needed was some incense, available from CVS for only four dollars!"

While we were waiting for the pharmacist to open the pharmacy (we'd arrived just as the store opened for the day) he noticed a Cosmopolitan magazine. "Look!" he exclaimed. "CVS has everything you could possibly want in life!" In glaring orange letters on the Cosmo cover were the words "Tantric Sex."

So there you have it, kids: Spirituality and tantric sex, available from CVS drugstores everywhere for less than $10.

Sunday was fairly boring for Matt and I and probably pretty hectic for Braz and Kris. They left around 11:30 in the morning to meet up with Braz's family and go to Whitney's graduation (commencement at 1, departmental ceremony at 4, and then a family dinner at the Outback, which usually as a 45-minute wait in the off-season). Matt and I drove down to visit my parents and wish my mom a happy Mother's Day. We took them out to lunch/dinner at the Outback near their place. We went at 2:30 during the "lull" between meals, when the wait was only an hour and a half. Though we were actually seated after only about forty-five minutes.

We went back to their house and socialized for a while, and then headed home so we could get the laundry done. Around ten, Braz and Kris came back. Between being tired and wanting to help Whitney move, they'd decided to stay in Williamsburg one more night, but they'd gotten a room at a motel. We begged them to stay with us, but Braz's allergies were acting up, and our cat only makes them worse. Being allergy-prone ourselves, we understood.

Today, Matt's friend Tristan and his wife, Heather, will be arriving in town. They're staying with us tonight, Wednesday, and Thursday. (They're going up to visit some friends in D.C. Tuesday night.) I'm such a geek, I panicked a little when I realized that their being here meant we wouldn't be able to get on the MeadeHall tonight, but Matt sent out a quick note to the list, asking if anyone would mind if we moved this week's session to Tuesday instead.

No one objected, and since Braz and Kris won't be getting home until later today anyway, it's even better for them. So now I feel better - I can be an attentive hostess without giving up my MeadeHall fix. Heh.

Word of the Day: nadir - the lowest point

The best part of Braz and Kris' visit is probably a tie between the water-fight, which was just loads of fun; and the actual serious conversations I had at different times with each of them, because it's so easy to just take people at face value, without having to try to understand them or be understood. Those conversations were glimpses beneath the masks, and that's always been very precious to me.

I'd have to say the low point - the absolute nadir - for me at least, was Matt being sortof grumpy about my staying up until four in the morning talking to Braz. I hate it when Matt's grumpy and irritable. It's worse when it's my fault. Especially when, as in this case, I don't actually feel like I did anything wrong. (Ill-advised, yes, given that I was supposed to go to work Friday. Wrong, no.)

Funny that one of the best times is so closely linked to the worst. Life is like that, sometimes.

Friday, May 12, 2000

12 May 2000

Well. Yesterday was, um... Busy. I took two hours for lunch to meet Matt and Braz and Kris. And, since yesterday was the farewell lunch for Kurg at 3GI, we decided we'd all go to that and hang out on 3GI's periphery. Lunch was fun, though if Matt and Braz together are the hands of Loki, then Matt, Braz, Jeremy, and Kurg all together was downright frightening! (At least to we wives and girlfriends!)

After work, Matt and I took Braz and Kris out to dinner at Don Pablo's. Braz had been to a Don Pablo's someplace else, but hadn't tried the dessert. Matt and I commanded: We will all have dessert! Once they got a taste of the brandy-butter sauce, they applauded our decision. We had a great waiter, too - he was just obnoxious enough to be funny without being overbearing, and his occasional lapse of forgetfulness didn't actually distress us too much. (He was a bit late bringing chips and things.) And - joy of joys - he brought me a plastic container to bring home the rest of the brandy-butter sauce! Whee! Before we left the restaurant, he thanked us for making him laugh. We left him a healthy tip.

Matt and Braz wanted to go to World's Best, which is a comic and gaming store a ways down the road from the Don Pablo's. I like going there, but always get extremely bored before Matt decides he's done looking around. So I asked Matt to look for a particular book for me, and Kris and I stayed at the Barnes and Noble next door to the Don Pablo's, admonishing the boys to pick us up before it closed.

For about an hour, I wandered around picking up various books that looked interesting or that had been recommended to me by various people. I've been sortof interested in learning a bit about Taoism lately, so I picked up a tiny translation of the Tao Te Ching as the obvious starting point.

I found Kris at a table flipping through cake decorating books, and we compared notes for a while. The conversation wound up travelling off into a discussion of religion and spirituality that to me at least was extremely interesting, if slightly difficult at times. (My family is private in the extreme when it comes to matters of faith and philosophy. Asking someone in my immediate family to talk about their religious beliefs is only slightly less invasive than asking about their sex life.) I was explaining to her that I'd picked the specific version of the Tao Te Ching that I did because it had so little analysis - that I prefer to interpret things for myself - when Matt and Braz showed up. The four of us poked around a little longer, and then headed home.

Matt turned in shortly after we got home. By then, it was after eleven, and he was feeling tired. I was still pretty wired from all the sugar in the brandy-butter sauce, and so we all wished him good night. The three of us sat around idly flipping through TV channels, and suddenly Braz said, "Matt and I had a very interesting conversation while we were at World's Best."

"Oh? About what?"

"The Hall."

I glanced at Kris, who merely looked amused. "Would you like to tell me what about?"

Braz didn't really want to tell me what he and Matt had been talking about, but he was willing to talk about the side-trip I was on. Kris asked some questions, and we filled her in on the backplot, a little at a time, and she got caught up in the story, too, which thrilled both Braz and I to no end.

She finally gave up and went to bed around 1:30. Braz and I kept going. And going.

And going.

I think it was at about three that I began to think that maybe I wouldn't bother going to bed at all. At about four, Matt woke up, discovered I wasn't in the bed with him, and got up. He came about halfway down the stairs, glared at me, and went back to bed.

I looked at Braz. "He's pissed." Braz nodded. "I wonder if I should go up." Braz nodded again.

So we did in fact, get some sleep.

Matt wasn't as grumpy as I'd thought he would be; just worried. He insisted on turning off my alarms and told me not to go to work in the morning. I agreed, and he seemed okay.

I did actually go in to work this morning, but only long enough to fill out my timesheet (which was due today) and turn in a program architectural document that I'd written yesterday (which was due today). One of the managers came in as I was filling in the time sheet, and I stopped in his door to explain that I'd been up until four in the morning and therefore wasn't going to be in the office today. He agreed and told me to go home.

I'd say that's why I'm late posting this entry today, but Yeehaw seems to still be having some problems, so I can't post this even now that I've written it. I hope they fix them soon.

Thursday, May 11, 2000

11 May 2000

Yup. 'Bout what I figured.

Braz and Kris arrived around 9:30 last night, and Matt and Braz immediately turned into kids. Kris and I mostly just watched. They're both great guys alone - cheerful, intelligent, enthusiastic, and friendly - but put them together, and it's like they become part of a hive mind or something and turn into two hands of Loki.

After we'd sat around kibbitzing and telling jokes and stories for a while, they turned on the television to watch a baseball game. Kris and I watched for a while, then went upstairs. But really, there's no place for two people to just sit and relax and chat in our house except in the living room, so eventually we wound up back downstairs. We pestered the boys by asking them inane questions about baseball and talking to each other about the appearance of various players.

"What's the difference between a called strike and a regular strike?"

(A longish explanation ensues which boils down to: whether the batter swings.)

"He looks like a redneck."

"He's not a redneck, sweetheart."

"I think it's the way his hair sticks out like that."

"He's from California! He talks perfectly normally!"

I think you're right, Kris, he does look like a redneck."

"Looks don't matter when you've got an arm like that!"

"Hey, his ass looks normal!"


"Baseball uniforms make the guys' butts look enormous! But his looks normal. He must have no ass!"

Like that. Eventually Kris decided to turn in. I thought about doing the same, but our bedroom is directly over the living room. If the game got exciting, even a little bit, I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway. So I stayed on the couch between them and asked idiot questions. I'd say I learned a lot about baseball, but it was pretty late, so I think I just succeeded in keeping myself entertained.

I did learn that Braz thinks Joe Morgan is the most annoying sports commentator in the universe. And hey, I've never known the name of a sports commentator before. (Well, unless you count Howard Cosell, but he's dead.)

Finally, around one in the morning, they decided they didn't want to see the end of the game (which is good, because it had the potential to drag on for another couple of hours, being a tied-game pitcher's duel) and we all went to bed. So today I've had... Let me think, this is practically higher mathematics... A little more than four and a half hours of sleep.

It's a good thing for me that the work I have to do today is fairly mindless.

I could have actual work to do at work again soon. Yesterday we had the "post-mortem" meeting for the last project, so they're almost ready to move on to the next stage.

The problem with the post-mortem was this: The project involved something like four applications, of which I wrote one. The people who wrote the other three actually went to the trade-show last week, and so they already knew what bugs had been found in their code. So it felt like about half the post-mortem was a bug report on my application. I mean, they listed the problems with their applications, but it was all in shorthand, because they already knew what they were talking about.

"There's that one problem with the lockup on [component A]."

"Yeah. And Liz, your application does this weird thing if I... [Insert long explanation of the problem.]"

"Oh, and the status messages don't work right all the time."

"And you really ought to save the data when you go to another screen."

"Oh, don't forget to add the doohickey to [component B]."


Oh, Matt after reading yesterday's entry told me, "This is the Web. Everyone wants you to post erotica!" So I did. It's not all up, yet, but I'll get around to it. Possibly even by the time you're reading this.

Word of the Day: accolade - a mark of acknowledgement, award; an expression of praise

Right now, I'd offer accolades to anyone willing to start the coffeemaker. Oh wait - I'm the only person in the building this early. Guess I'll have to go start it myself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

10 May 2000

Got meade?Forget the various semi-erotic vignettes Braz and I wrote yesterday; about the time I finally gave in to the howling monkey on my back and started writing, Braz got bit again, and what he came up with this time wasn't steamy at all. In fact, I think the word we're looking for here is chilling.

I'd been talking to him on IM when he sent me the file to read, and the story sucked me in hard, in a creepy kind of way. (It was like watching a spider on the outside of a window: Intellectually, I know it can't get in at me, but the rest of me isn't convinced.) When I finished it and took a deep breath, and my hands steadied enough to type again, I turned back to the IM window I'd left open and typed "Holy cow" - which seemed like an appropriate response at the time.

IM popped up a little window telling me that it was attempting to reconnect. (The server I'm on at work was apparently built by tinker gnomes. It drops my connection pretty frequently, and I don't know about it until I try to say something or check someone's information.) I waited for it to reconnect, then highlighted Braz's IM name and typed it again: "Holy cow." Mostly because I couldn't think of anything better to say.

Braz logged out.

Maybe, I thought to myself, he just has to reboot. Wait a bit and see if he comes back.

I waited, watching the BuddyList. Several minutes passed. No Braz. In the meantime, my brain has been churning over the story, and I'd come up with a sortof vague guess as to what's really happening in it. So I pulled up my e-mail program. Still slightly shaking from the aftereffects of the story, I accused him of leaving just then to creep me out further (it worked) and then proceeded to babble for two or three paragraphs about my swiftly-forming theory. I sent it out, and took another few deep breaths.

I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I came back, I had mail already from Braz. Apparently, while I'd been waiting for him to come back, my server had dropped my connection again, so I didn't see him return. Irritable with myself that I hadn't thought of that, I made IM re-connect.

Braz was shaken. What he'd seen, from his vantage point, was this: I'd disappeared while I was reading the story - not so unusual, since he's used to my stupid connection. I came back and said, "Holy cow." and then he'd had to reboot. When he came back from rebooting, I was gone again, and Matt (to whom he had also sent the story) had put up an Away message. Poor Braz thought he'd creeped us out so badly we didn't want to talk to him anymore.

But now he's threatening to put the story up on the MeadeHall website. I'll try to remember to post a link when he does. I'm trying to decide if I want to post the semi-erotica I wrote - maybe create a sub-page to my Dencity account for Hall stories. I dunno. Is anyone else actually interested in reading them?

So, today promises to be interesting. Besides still swapping e-mail with Jeff, Karen, and K.T. about the Hall plot, Kurg was kind enough to loan me his collection of Spelljammer sourcebooks so I can make some notes. It's a bigger collection than I thought - this could take a while. I brought the first boxed set in to work with me today.

On top of that, right after work I have an appointment to try on shoes for my brother's wedding. I don't care what the shoes look like - no one looks at a bridesmaid's feet, and my chances of being able to wear the shoes again are more or less zilch - but I have some problem feet, and it's important to me that they at least attempt to be comfortable. I don't see it happening, but I can always hope. (And bring a pair of loafers to change into after the ceremony.)

And, most exciting of all, Braz and Kris are coming to visit tonight! That is, they're coming for a visit and to see Braz's sister graduate from William and Mary, but they're staying with us while they're in town, and they're arriving tonight. Hurray!

Apparently Kris is a little concerned that - since Braz and Matt and I are all three heavily involved in the MeadeHall plot - we'll be spending a lot of time talking about it. But we were talking about it (her concern, that is) via IM yesterday, and I confessed, "I don't think I'd be able to do it out loud." Braz agreed that he wasn't sure he could talk it instead of typing.

There's a weird sort of intimacy, in role-playing, if you let your characters get too close. You're so tightly attached to them that sometimes you lose the boundaries between yourself and the character. And sharing that intimacy - even with someone else who's experiencing it themselves - can be a little intimidating. I don't know if I can explain it any better than that.

So I think Kris can relax on that count, at least. We'll probably talk about it a little, but I don't think we could bring ourselves to get into too deep of a discussion.

Anyway, while we're waiting for them to arrive (which could be anywhere between 8 and 11) I'll be doing some cooking - I want to make homemade ice cream, and the base for that needs to be cooked and then cooled overnight. And when I'm done with that, well, I'll have three eggs left over, and do you know what recipe I have that calls for three eggs? Meringue kisses! Whoo-hoo! That's good for at least two and a half hours right there.

Word of the Day: distend - extend, expand from internal pressure, swell

Hey, do I have to write about the word of the day if it's a word I've actually used of my own accord?

Yes? Oh. Okay. How about this: "I want to eat homemade ice cream until my belly visibly distends."

Tuesday, May 9, 2000

9 May 2000


Yesterday was a good day, despite the fact that I was too tired to think straight for most of it. The air conditioning repair people called promptly in the morning, and made an appointment to come out in the afternoon. I spent most of the day on IM and Hotmail, frantically sending e-mail back and forth about the Hall. My dentist appointment was odious, but not unbearable. (I finally made him write it on the charts: "Double-dose of lidocaine necessary.")

Got meade?And, of course, I spent the evening on the Hall, which was fun. Zoya got to make up with Marten, sortof, kinda... Well, you had to be there. She's still mad at him, but since he admitted immediately and without prompting that he'd been an idiot, she's forgiven him. And she's starting to get some ideas about how to deal with the ghost that's riding him.

Even the idle chatter after the Hall was good. Just to see what he'd say about it, I sent Braz a little bit of Hall-based almost-erotica I'd written over the weekend (certain events made the bit I'd written completely out of the question, but I thought it was still a pretty moving little vignette) and he had the same reaction to it that he'd had to my first attempt (the one that was vague enough to become part of the story), which was, "Wow." There's nothing quite like a "Wow" to brighten a writer's day, even if I'm only a writer when it suits me.

He confessed that he was tempted to write something, himself, and I tried to encourage him. Some of the writing tucked away on his website is pretty darned impressive. This morning, I found his effort in my mailbox, and damn but I shouldn't be reading stuff this warm at work (but I'll probably re-read it at least ten times today, and the Writing Beast is stirring in its cage, wanting to write a response)...

And over on the other channel, Kurg was going through old things in preparation for his upcoming move, and mentioned a stack of poetry he'd written, which reminded me of the poem he wrote me once. There's nothing quite like the memory of having poems written to you, either.

All in all, quite a nice evening.

This morning was slightly less nice, since we found out that the temporary fix the air conditioning folks put in until the part they needed arrived isn't working. In fact, I'm tempted to say that the problem is the same one we had last year, since Matt noticed this morning that no water has been coming out of the outdoor drain pipe...

So if I don't hear from them by about 10 this morning, I'll be calling them back. Hmph.

Today promises to be another weird one, with aching boredom at work (I have a project, but it's a tedious management thing) followed by a busy evening. Because of my dentist appointment, Matt and I didn't get to the grocery store yesterday, so we're going tonight. And Jeff and Karen wanted me to join them for yet another off-Hall session (oh, twist my arm). I'd been hoping that one could be via e-mail, since the only really free night I have this week is tonight, but they really wanted to do it on IRC. So I'll be back online tonight.

Word of the Day: millefleur - having a pattern of flowers and plants

More French. Ah, well I'm feeling magnanimous this morning. I'll talk about furniture instead of raving.

I want a new couch. Actually, I want a whole new living room set. Our current set is a couch and chair given us by some friend who were getting hand-me-downs from some other friends, and while it's a huge step ahead of the ancient and much-abused couch we had before, in terms of both aesthetics and comfort, I'd really like something newer.

The problem is, I am perhaps overly picky about designs, and overly sensitive to what I perceive as the natural male desire to disdain and avoid millefleur designs around the house. I carefully avoid buying "girly" sheets, to Matt's occasional frustration. (He says he doesn't care, for petesake, and just buy something.)

I can understand his irritation with me over the sheets. We don't spend much time in the bedroom during the day, and at night, the lights are out and our eyes (usually) are closed. But we do spend a lot of time in the living room, and it's important to me that we both like our living room furniture. But I think we've got different ideas about what we want. I wish we could both draw - then we could sketch our our ideal design, and work toward a compromise. But as it is, we've got to wander around furniture stores and look at things and try to explain to each other why we don't like them, which is imprecise at best.

So far, we haven't disagreed much over designs - I'm not especially fond of flowery things, myself. But what happens if I do encounter a flowery design I really like? It could happen. Do I tell Matt and risk him agreeing to something he doesn't care for just to keep me happy? Do I indicate mild approval and hope he agrees? Do I keep my mouth shut and hope we find something else?

Ah, the married life...

Monday, May 8, 2000

8 May 2000

I spent part of Friday afternoon making some phone calls that had been put off for too long. The last call I made was to the video club we're collecting the Babylon 5 tapes from.

First of all, there was no autmated menu to navigate. Not even a single button. The automatic phone-answerer simply picked up and told me that my call would be answered in the order in which it was received.

After less than thirty seconds on hold, a customer service representative picked up. He was courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful. He told me he was familiar with the problem we were having, what had caused it, and assured me that it would be fixed as soon as possible.

It was the Customer Service Call from the Twilight Zone, I swear...

Driving home from the game Saturday night, I passed a couple of cops pulling back onto the highway after giving someone a ticket. I checked my speed, saw that I was doing only maybe four miles over the speed limit, and didn't worry about it too much.

Until I saw the flashing blue lights.

I pulled my driver's license out, and had Matt look for the registration in the glove compartment. Matt looked. And looked. And looked, while the cop waited patiently and I started to get embarassed. Every registration I've had for this car, we found, except the current one.

The cop calmly informed me that the stickers on my plate in fact matched the most recent registration, which expired in March, and then wrote me a ticket.

Our air conditioner is broken again. Same problem as last time, though it looks like the cause may be different - water is leaking from inside the unit and pooling in the catch basin at the bottom. Just in time for a week of record highs. Since we were going to be home all day Sunday, we turned it on anyway and kept an eye on it.

All day, the water level in the catch basin stayed the same. Matt saw some water leaking in the evening, but since the water level in the basin hadn't changed, we left the AC on during the night, hoping that the water leaking Friday had been a fluke.

This morning, the catch basin was almost full. I turned the damn thing off again, and will call the repair crew today to raise hell.

Got meade?The reason the rest of this entry is so pathetic today is that I'm currently completely wrapped up in the latest developments on the Meade Hall. I spent half the day online with Braz on Friday - including a late-night session from which he was bumped and never came back. We decided to finish it last night, and I almost wish we hadn't.

If you've ever had a character that actually lived in your brain, one you had no control over, you'll understand this. If you haven't, then you might as well skip this, because that's what I'm talking about.

Marten left Zoya last night. Not to protect her, or do some task, or even because he doesn't love her any more - but because he couldn't handle the fact that she can't trust the... ghost, or whatever it is, that moved into his mind and is occasionally taking over. She wanted to set him up in the Tower so the Tower wouldn't let him leave without her; that way even if the ghost took over, he couldn't get out to harm anyone. But no, Marten decides that if she can't trust him, he might as well leave.

Zoya was - and is - heartbroken. And it's a damn good thing that she keeps her word, even if he doesn't want her to anymore, because sure enough, as soon as he left, that thing took over again. So she's watching him, ready to act if he does anything out of line. But she is furious with Marten for acting so selfishly, and it's entirely possible that he will lose her over this. Even though, damn it, she still loves him.

Zoya is so angry, she's stomping around in my brain, not letting me get any rest. It took me until 1AM to get to sleep last night, and when the cat woke me up just after five, I couldn't get back to sleep. So I'm running on only four hours of sleep, and I still can't get Zoya's raving out of my head.

And to make matters worse, our e-mail's broken. The transcripts I sent myself yesterday to be cleaned up and posted; the letter Karen sent that needs to be replied to - none of it's here. And I've got at least three different e-mails to write today with regards to the Hall, and I'll have to do them all via Hotmail now. Yuck.

The way my day is going, they'll give me actual work to do in a few minutes and I won't be able to do any mail at all.

Word of the Day: adduce - to offer as example, reason, or proof in discussion or analysis

You will have adduced by now that I'm more than slightly obsessed with this plot. Even more so now, since I found out last night that Zoya's part in it is more than simple love-interest.

I just wish Zoya's moods didn't color my own quite so vividly.

Friday, May 5, 2000

5 May 2000

You'd think I'd know better by now. If I take a nap from 5:30 to 7:30, then I am not going to be able to fall asleep when I go to bed at 10. Oh, well, at least I'm not completely dragging.

Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll come up with an idea for my game today. The game itself is tomorrow, you see, and I am completely unprepared. Not unprepared as in, "I haven't looked up the stats or worked out the numbers for the opponent yet," or unprepared as in, "I haven't worked out the tie-in yet" but unprepared as in, "I don't have the slightest idea what to do."

I feel really shitty about it, too. I feel like I'm letting everyone down if I show up without something prepared. I talked about not being very creative a while back, so I won't rehash it. Suffice to say I'm feeling more than a little dull this morning.

Of course, while I was writing that, I had an idea. It's either sortof clever, or really lame. I won't know until I flesh it out a little, and I won't know for sure until I actually run it. But at least I won't have to tell them that the game is cancelled.

My Palm has an application called "To-Do" which, sensibly enough, is a to-do list. You enter items that need doing, give them a rank of importance and (if desired) a due-date.

I find that I have better luck, however, if I add most of my to-do items to the appointment book and set an alarm. For instance, I've needed for about a week now to call the only local store that carries the shoes I'll need for my brother's wedding and arrange to try them on and find out my size. (My shoe size ranges from an 8 to a 10 depending on the make of the shoe, so trying them on before I buy is very important.)

It's been on my To-Do list since Sam sent me the phone number of the store. A couple of days ago, I put it in the appointment book: 3:30pm - 4:00pm Call Shoe Store. The alarm went off, I looked at the message that popped up, and thought, "Oh, yeah. Well, I'd better do it now while the thought is fresh." Of course, it didn't take me a whole half hour to call the store, but I didn't want to put an appointment in the book for only ten minutes. The alarm is the important thing.

Did earlier this week, too - we were in the grocery store and Matt thought to ask me a question about something my parents had done a couple of years ago. I didn't know the answer, but I set up the appointment book to sound an alarm the next day while I would be at work. And the next day, when the alarm went off, I called my dad and asked him.

Poor To-Do List. Without an alarm, or at least the intelligence to pop up without my permission when an item is nearing its due date - without some way to impose itself on my consciousness, I don't think it'll ever get much use.

Word of the Day: druthers - free choice, preference; usually used in the phrase "if one had one's druthers"

If I had my druthers, I'd be...
  • sleeping
  • reading
  • baking cookies
  • making ice cream
  • watching a movie
  • petting the cat
  • hanging out with friends
  • having sex
  • doing almost anything
...instead of sitting here at work.

Thursday, May 4, 2000

4 May 2000

I usually leave work around 4:00. I get to work before 7:30 and almost always eat lunch sitting at my desk, so 4:00 seems a reasonable time to head home.

Yesterday, I got home around 4:15. I checked the mailbox, but the mail hadn't come yet. I took my briefcase and purse inside, then went back out to water the plants on the porch. I thought about sitting out on the porch for a while, because the weather was astonishingly beautiful, but our porch faces directly west, and I don't like having the sun in my face. So I went back inside and plopped down on the couch with my book.

As Matt will tell you, when I get really deeply into a book, it takes a lot to get my attention. But I'm not really getting deeply into this book. It bounces around in time too much, and takes too much brainpower to comprehend what's going on. So every time the chapter changes (and they're short chapters), I get rudely booted out of whatever mental zone I'd been in. So I heard it when the garbage truck came around.

I didn't know for certain that it was the garbage truck - there's still a lot of construction on our street, so big trucks drive past pretty frequently, and I've learned to ignore them. I didn't really think much of it. And I glanced up when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye that turned out to be Matt pulling into our driveway.

Matt always checks the mail when he gets home, so I went back to the book, hoping to finish the paragraph I was on before he came in. I finished the paragraph. Then I finished the rest of the chapter - another page or so. I put my bookmark in the book and looked up to see Matt coming up the steps of the porch. He came through the door and waved the mail at me.

"Did you see our new decoration?" He sounded mad. I hadn't seen anything unusual when I checked the mail myself, but he frequently notices things the kids do that I just ignore - I assumed they'd tied some string around the post or something like that.

"No, everything looked fine when I got home."

He glowered at me. "Come and see!" He led me outside. Before I even got off the porch, I saw what he was talking about. The mailbox was tilted at an odd angle, and the piece of wood that braces it was on the ground, along with the mailbox flag and door. "The garbage truck ran into it," Matt said. "Mike saw it." Mike's our next-door neighbor. I can see him now, tooling around in his garage. I walk out to the mailbox and see that the brass house numbers we'd tacked to the post are bent and broken. "He says the guy came up to the door."

I shake my head. "No one rang the doorbell." I'm quite confidant that I would have heard the doorbell, even in one of my deepest reading fugues.

Matt frowns at me. "Mike says," he repeats, "that the guy came to the door."

I start to get a little irritable about this. I know I've offended Matt by being too deep into books to pay close attention to him on more than one occasion, but I wouldn't miss the doorbell or ignore a knock on the door when I was sitting right there in the living room. (For that matter, I'm fairly certain I'd have noticed someone walking up the porch steps.) Rather than fight with him about it - because he's not always rational when he's upset about something - I let it drop, and when he goes into the kitchen to call the county and ask them how to be reimbursed for the cost of a new mailbox, I go back to reading my book.

So that's our story - the garbage truck ran into our mailbox and totaled it. We're telling the county that the guy knocked and "apparently no one was home" because it's easier than telling them that he only came halfway up the driveway until our neighbor couldn't see him anymore and then turned around and went back to his truck. I sure hope the county doesn't waffle or dither or anything about replacing our mailbox and post, because otherwise Matt's going to be grumpy for weeks.

I had a dream last night that I didn't know at first was a dream. I was living in an apartment building again, and I was in the hall talking to a neighbor, and turned around and saw Björn, my high school boyfriend. I haven't seen him since a day or so after we broke up, and I haven't actually thought about him in months, but I was surprised and happy to see him.

We laughed and hugged each other and then he said, "Have you met my wife?" and I turned and saw Mila, my best friend from high school, with whom I'm still in sporadic contact. That was an even bigger surprise, but as I hugged her in greeting, I remembered that she'd mentioned it to me about a year ago and I'd forgotten.

We went into their apartment, which was right next door to ours, and Matt was already there, with some of the other neighbors. It turned out that we were going to do some rituals for some reason. There was a big fat spiral-bound notebook, the kind Matt uses for gaming, with notes about who was going to perform which ritual. Mine involved splitting a piece of fruit in half and then counting the seeds that spilled out - but it turned out that the fruit was a pomegranate, and we all started arguing about whether I should count the seeds that still had meat on them, or the seeds that had been de-juiced, so to speak.

Elizabeth Reid argued for the de-juiced seeds, with some logic that was pretty clear in the dream but which has faded now, and some other people I didn't know argued for the seeds with juice, and I considered the meaning of the ritual (which has also already faded) and decided on the regular seeds.

I also remember being vaguely worried that Björn wouldn't really want to do the ritual he'd been assigned for some reason, but Matt told me he didn't think it would be a problem, and he was right.

I don't understands 'em; I just dreams 'em.

Word of the Day: occlusion - an obstruction or blockage; the act of obstructing or closing off

Nancy McDonald - who had been the realtor in charge of selling us our house until she quit that job to go work directly for the builder - called us the other day. Apparently, the person who used to be in charge of post-closing repairs had quit, and she was helping the new person contact everyone and make appointments so he could fix things. She wanted to know what had yet to be done in our house, and to help set up an appointment between us and the new guy on Friday.

Most of the big problems have been taken care of, because we hollered until they were done. Most of what's left should be fairly trivial - about two-thirds of our windows need screens, and the light in the computer room doens't have a bowl covering the bulbs. All they have to do is buy the necessary pieces and put them in. An hour, tops, if the lines at the hardware store are long.

But there are two remaining items that could turn out to be big. The first is that the stove vent hood leaks when the rain blows from the north. Water seeps in around the corners and runs down behind the stove and makes the paint bubble and break. Ideally, they'll reseal the vent, then pull the stove out from the wall and fix the water damage. I suspect what they'll do is just reseal the vent.

The other is that, when we moved in, the house wouldn't pass inspection because there was a window too close to the back door, and the glass in the window wasn't safety-glass. Theoretically, if the door slammed open, the window could break into tiny shards that could be a safety hazard. Technically, because of the depth of the window-sill, no part of the door could actually touch the glass of the window. But at the time, we just wanted to move in, and so we let them cover the window with a piece of plexi-glass screwed and glued into place. It was supposed to be just a temporary measure until they'd ordered a safety-glass window and installed it.

In fact, they'd delivered a safety-glass window to us a month or so after we moved in. But it sat in our garage for months, and when the contractor finally came around to install it, he refused, saying that it was the wrong kind of window. So we still have this unsightly and irritating occlusion over our window, and we want it fixed!

I have simple desires, really I do, but one of those desires is - on beautiful spring days like today - to be able to open all the windows in the house and feel a breath of fresh air breeze through the corners.