Thursday, May 27, 2010


I swear, the gods are conspiring to try to keep me from going on this writing retreat, or at least to make sure it's not productive.

I had a proposal technical edit dumped in my lap on Monday. I find it very hard to switch back and forth between writing and editing modes.

Then I had to get involved in a discussion about another document that we're due to deliver on Friday. If I'm out Friday afternoon, and the manager for that project is out Friday afternoon, then we really need to do the document review on Thursday. Which means that the document specialist doing the editing and cleanup of the document needs it by Tuesday morning at the latest. By 2:00 yesterday, she still didn't have it.

Things started looking up: the proposal manager agreed that I'd done pretty much all I could do on the proposal, so I knocked that off my plate. And the manager for the project with the document agreed to extend its due date to next Tuesday (which, given the holiday Monday, is technically only a one-day extension, but it gives the docs person all day Friday to work on it, since we'll be able to do the review on Tuesday).

With no deliveries Friday, now, I began to think about taking the whole day off, instead of just half.

Then I got a software delivery dumped in my lap. The software isn't finished yet, but we've got a contractual/political thing going on, and whatever we've got has to be delivered by the end of the month.

Fine. Software delivery is a lot of paperwork, but it's not hard. I told the manager (this is a different manager from the other two, mind you) that I'd handle it, but I wanted to get it all prepped to go by end of the day Thursday, because I was trying to take Friday off. He agreed that was fine -- they're not making any changes to the unfinished software this week, so baselining it early wouldn't matter.

I muttered and grumbled, then shrugged it off -- hey, it's chargeable work, which is scarily rare in my office right now. I started prepping paperwork and documents, and got as far as I could without having the software checkin notice or the version description document draft to edit.

This morning, before I'd even finished turning on my lights, the phone rang. There's an issue with the previous release of the software that affects what they checked in last night, so I have to hold off on baseline until they sort out the redundant files and check it back in. And there's some questions with the version description document, too, so I might as well hold off on working that, as well.

And I realized that since this is a major version release for this software, I have to do a set of configuration audits on it before it goes out. Which is another eight pages of paperwork, dammit. At least it gives me something to do while I'm waiting for the other issues to be straightened out.

And by the time all this editing and processing and administrivia bureaucratic nonsense is done, how hard is it going to be to yank my brain back to anything like a creative mode?


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I feel sort of like I'm plodding through my days, lately.

Despite my choice of verb, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I get up, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth. I pull out the Wii Fit and exercise for about 20 minutes, interspersed with helping Penny make her breakfast, and doing her breakfast shot. (I'd make her wait until I was done exercising to eat, except that then she just sits and watches me, and I hate to be watched when I'm exercising.) I take my meds, and get the lunches out of the fridge and pile them by the door. I check the night's email and twitters. I get dressed. I herd the kids out to the car and take them to school. (Alex stops in the toddler room to beg a cracker from Ms. Gwen, then wants to hang his jacket up by himself when we get to the 2-year-old class. Penny gets five hugs, five kisses, and five "special" kisses when we part ways in the school lobby.)

I go to work. If it's a good day, I have a lot of work to do; a mediocre day is slow; and on bad days, I don't have much to do, but there are enough regular interruptions that I can't think about writing. Three days a week (more or less), I go to the gym at lunchtime; one day a week I get my allergy shots.

I go home. I make dinner. I eat dinner. I clean up after dinner and make lunches for the next day. I read a book to Alex and take him up to bed, then listen to Penny's homework reading. I get her put to bed, then take my shower, and then decide what to do with my hour or two of "free" time before I go to bed. The option list is usually: watch TV (well, TiVO), watch a movie (Netflix), read, write, mess with photos (on the computer), or scrapbook (i.e, mess with photos on paper). Just lately, playing Portal is on the list, too. (This week, I'm trying to spend at least an hour a night writing, in preparation for the writing retreat this weekend. It didn't work out Monday, because I had work to do, but I managed to dig in the discipline last night after Matt and I watched Monday's Big Bang Theory.)

There's a lot of sameness to my days. A lot of routine. But that doesn't make it bad. Aside from the omnipresent frustration that there isn't enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do, I'm pretty happy with my life.

There's something to be said for that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I've been asked to provide editing for another proposal -- this one is due out Wednesday this week, so there's absolutely no chance that I'll be asked to work any weekends, though I did take it home last night to do some editing.

I didn't even complain about that, really, because I'm planning to take at least half a day off on Friday (if not more, depending on how the schedule goes) to pack and shop for the writing retreat, so a little extra work from home early this week just means that's less vacation time I'll have to burn.

So I settled in with a plan -- I wanted to get through a solid 25 pages of this 55-page proposal -- and only then realized that I'd taken home the proposal, the statement of work, and the proposal request, but had forgotten to bring a red pen. And, apparently, I didn't have any red pens stashed at home.

And this proposal is in desperate need of editing. Lots of it was filled in by someone who works for the small company we're partnering with for this proposal, and that person... is a really horrible writer. Even the stuff that I could tell had come word-for-word out of their marketing slicks (which was a little too oily for a proposal anyway) had grammatical mistakes and consistency issues.

I'd done my printing on both sides of the paper, to save paper, but that meant I couldn't go with my first impulse and use a Sharpie to do my editing.

Luckily, I have kids. I rummaged in Penny's arts-and-crafts drawer until I found her bag of colored pencils, and dug out an orange one.

It's been a while since I've used a pencil. It's been even longer since I used the kind of pencil that needs to be sharpened. Working on a printout of Times New Roman font at 11 points and trying to write in the margins, I was sort of surprised at how often I had to re-sharpen the pencil to keep my notes legible.

Ah, well, I got it done. If nothing else, it renews my appreciation for mechanical pencils and ball-point pens. I need to remember to grab a couple of extra red pens and stash them at home somewhere.

And to thank Penny for the loan of her orange pencil.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Good weekend, definitely.

It turns out that one of Ray's friends in kindergarten has a brother who's in Penny's 1st grade class, so Penny actually knew someone besides Ray. It was pretty funny, actually, because the two boys sort of ended up fighting over her -- Ray because he's known Penny far longer than any of his classmates, and the kid from her class because she was the only other kid he knew. They eventually worked it out so that the three of them played together mostly. All the kids seemed to be having a fantastic time, though.

The WISC turns out to be an awesome place for a party, at least for the parents -- the restrictions against bringing in your own food are pretty well made up by the fact that they set up, decorate, supervise, serve, and even write down the names and gifts for you while the birthday kid opens presents so you can actually and honestly just enjoy the party. The pizza is handmade on-site by a local deli and was really good, and the cake is from Ukrops, which makes fantastic cakes. I had to buy a diet soda to share with Penny (they provide Sprite and lemonade and water, but I didn't think it was fair for Penny to have to drink water when everyone else was getting soda and lemonade), but that wasn't a big deal, really.

The only downside I can see to encouraging Penny to have her birthday there is that the bounce area is restricted to kids 4 and up -- and there really isn't a good place for Alex to play while he waits. But we'll figure something out eventually, I expect.

Penny's present to Ray (a pair of Nerf swords) was well-received, and once they got home from the party Saturday evening, they immediately tested them out for a couple of hours. Alex got some outside exercise as well, mostly jumping off things and demanding that I lift him up into the sky so he could wave at passing airplanes.

Sunday was a bit slower, but we still managed to fit in a trip to Sam's Club and a short visit with my parents.

Now I'm excited for this week to hurry up and be done so I can go on my writing retreat with KT this weekend! We've started planning meals and such and I'm considering what I need to pack and making notes of things I should remember to download.

C'mon, stupid work week! Hurry up!

Friday, May 21, 2010


The schedule is just chock-full of fun for the next few days. No, that's not sarcastic.

I've got a chiropractor appointment this morning, which probably isn't fun, but it'll certainly be appreciated.

After that, I'm taking some people at work out to lunch to thank them for a big effort. The word "margaritas" has been bandied about quite liberally.

Tomorrow, Penny's school PTA is holding a craft fair. The plan is for the whole family to go over to the school as soon as we're all up and dressed, since the fair is outdoors and it's going to be a warm day. I don't expect there to be much for the kids to do, but they can play on the playground while Matt and I take turns wandering amongst the vendors. I'm looking forward to this quite a bit, actually.

After that, or possibly after lunch while Alex is taking his nap, I'll take Penny shopping to pick up a birthday present for Ray. And then around 3:45 or so, we'll head over to the WISC for Ray's birthday party. It's a pizza party, so that'll be our dinner. I rather expect Penny and Ray will be sugared up and ready to keep playing once we get home afterward.

Sunday will have the usual chores, plus I want to get in a trip to Sam's Club. Again, not precisely fun, but for whatever reason, I usually kind of like going to Sam's.

...Yep, it's a boring laundry list of minutia kind of morning.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I forgot I had a chiropractor appointment on Tuesday, so when they called to find out where I was, I apologized profusely and moved it to Friday.

Then a lunch I've been trying to schedule for -- literally -- six weeks finally fell into place. On Friday.

So I moved Friday's usual gym workout to Thursday.

Then one of my projects asked me to run a meeting Thursday afternoon. So I nudged the gym workout a little earlier, to make sure I'd be back in time to set up.

Today... is Thursday. So I've got about two hours to finish this blog entry, eat breakfast, and do some stacked-up work. Then I need to change and go to the gym, come back and eat a quick lunch, and set up for this two-hour meeting this afternoon. After which... I don't know, but by then my day will feel so fractured I'm pretty sure I won't get much done with it.

And I was up until 11:30 or so last night, so before I can really get anything done... I need coffee.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Writer's Block

I need to make time to write.

I keep saying that, and I keep not doing it, and I don't know why. I have three or four stories that are planned out enough that I should be able to work on them. I have several more lurking in the background.

Last night should have been a perfect night for it. Matt was watching one of those shows on ESPN where they take all the leftover interviews and footage from last year's 10-minute spotlight segment and stretched it out into a repetitive hour-long special. I had less than zero interest in the thing, and it should've been easy to unplug my laptop and go upstairs to the bedroom and write for an hour or so. But I didn't. I played Portal instead. (The cake is a lie.)

I'm really, really looking forward to my Writing Retreat with KT, next weekend. If nothing else, that will help me figure out if the problem is simply distraction and willpower, or if there's some larger, deeper thing to be addressed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I spent a lot of yesterday working on a spreadsheet for work that should have been a very simple, half-hour job. I just wanted to list all our active projects, assorted numbers associated with them, their start and end dates, who their managers were, and what type of work they were. The idea was to give me a basis to work from so I could plan audits and make sure certain paperwork was up-to-date.

It turned out to be more complicated than I expected. I got halfway in and realized I have no idea what a couple of our projects are even about. We have three very similar projects that I can never keep straight who's the manager for each. There were several that were supposed to have ended two months ago but we're still working on them. Once I started looking into it, there were some that had suspect end dates on their paperwork.

Of the ten contracts on my list (and that's another question, because I'm fairly certain we've got more than that, especially since one of my managers is listed as having only one contract, and I'm quite certain that's wrong) only one of them had all the correct information and up-to-date paperwork in place.

So I spent most of yesterday trying to patch holes in my list. I'll spend more of today doing the same. And that's just to get me to the point that I thought I'd be at around mid-afternoon yesterday, where I'm ready to review the paperwork and start my audit planning.

Gotta love those complications.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Braz was crowing last week about how his apartment complex's pool was going to open this weekend.

"Be careful," I told him. "If Penny finds out you have a pool, she will demand numerous visits for the purpose of taking advantage."

"Y'all are more than welcome," Braz said.

And somehow that turned into plans for us to all go over to Braz's on Saturday to enjoy Pool Opening Day with him and the girls and Adin and Adin's two kids, Ripley and Henry. It was just a touch on the cool side for swimming, but we had a great time anyway. I got to see Penny's progress with swimming (she does pretty good until she has to take a breath, but apparently has not yet learned how to breathe and then keep going) and Alex was really excited about all the water and insisted on trying to jump into it even though he can't swim yet.

I foresee spending a number of weekend afternoons at Braz's, this summer. Just sayin'.

Swim-time sort of collapsed when Penny had a snack to combat a low blood-sugar and all the under-fives (which would be Alex and both of Adin's kids) decided that they, too, could not live without a snack, and we hadn't brought enough snacks for all of them.

So we trooped back to Braz's so everyone could have a snack, and changed clothes. (I couldn't resist saying something to Braz about the number of naked girls who'd been in his bedroom over the course of the day, since his room had turned into the de facto changing room.)

Matt had to leave after that to go to his monthly D&D game, but the rest of us (three adults and -- gods help us -- six kids) decided to go out to Wasabi for dinner. That turned out pretty well, though the kids were occasionally loud and toward the end, I had to bribe Alex with ice cream to get him to stay in his seat until we were all done. But we definitely had a good time, and I'm looking forward to more such gatherings.

Sunday was somewhat calmer. Penny spent most of the day playing with Ray, and Matt took Alex off to the park for an hour or so at one point. Late in the afternoon, I declared it too nice a day for Penny and Ray to play inside, and banished them outside -- so we took Alex outside as well to keep an eye on them. We were out for an hour or so, watching Alex play with Ray's old toys and Penny and Ray running from game to game, and chatting with Ray's parents and grandmother (who's in town for his birthday week).

All in all, a lovely and enjoyable weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Geek Rock

The concert was AWESOME. Actually, the whole evening worked out really well.

KT and Matt and I headed over to Elizabeth's, and then we all got into Elizabeth's car and headed out. We'd talked about stopping for dinner first, but decided we didn't have quite enough time, and that we would eat somewhere after the show. We got to Richmond with plenty of time to spare, and despite not being 100% certain how to get to the venue from the parking garage we'd stopped at, we eventually figured it out. Even better, when we got there, we discovered there was a restaurant just upstairs, so we went in and got food.

Braz and Aiden arrived while we were eating; we spotted them going by out the window and knocked, so they came in and sat with us while we finished eating. That wrapped up just as they were letting people inside for the show. Jennie and Brian arrived while I was in line to buy a t-shirt, and we all settled in to enjoy the show.

Paul and Storm were awesome. There was a running joke about one of the ads that kept cycling through the ad banner in the venue, and another running joke about cover bands. They had us laughing so hard I could barely breathe, and my face still aches today from all the smiling. (Obviously, I have not been exercising my huge grin enough, lately. I should work on that.) I actually hadn't heard anything from them before, but now, obviously, I'll have to download a bunch of their stuff.

And then Jonathan Coulton came out, and of course that was amazing. He did all his "big hits" -- there were only two or three songs I hadn't heard before. We all sang along (even the ones that were new to us had choruses that were pretty easy to pick up) and screamed and clapped and cheered. Matt and Braz had entirely too much fun being zombies for "Re: Your Brains" and the rest of us had entirely too much fun watching them. Best of all, Paul and Storm came out to sing backup for him for a few songs early in the show and they came out again for the encore.

If it had been a weekend and we'd had babysitters who were good to stay up late, I'd have wanted to go out with everyone afterward and get a couple of drinks or go dancing or something. But -- alas -- it was already closing in on midnight, and it was going to take KT two hours to get home, so we left right away.

As it was, I'm running on 5 hours of sleep this morning, but it was so worth it. I love my geek rock.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rock On

Isn't today almost over yet? I'm ready for it to be tonight -- the ultimate geekrock concert: Paul and Storm opening for Jonathan Coulton?! Too awesome for words, can't wait. And this time, I will buy a t-shirt or something. Since this is a venue with seats, I'll take my "real" camera along (as opposed to just using the blah camera built into the phone) so hopefully I'll get some good shots.

I'm obsessing slightly over what to wear, because I really want to wear these adorable black-and-purple striped tights I've got, but weirdly, despite half my wardrobe being purple right now, none of it is a shade of purple that goes with the purple of the tights. So I'm pondering my options, including the option of stopping at Target on the way back from getting my allergy shots this morning and finding something.

But before I can really get excited about going to the concert, I have to put together a report, review a few documents, make a menu and carb list for my parents to use for Penny tonight, come up with next week's dinner menu and shopping list, start a project data collection spreadsheet, invent my professional goals for the year, and host a two-hour teleconference.

Oh, and figure out why, when I got to work this morning, my computer was spontaneously rebooting itself over and over and over again, and brace for it to barf its hard drive all over the desk.

And before I get started on any of that?

I need coffee.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Penny's class put on a play yesterday -- well, a series of skits. They played superheroes and supervillains. The whole thing was adorable. I think my favorite characters had to be No Homework Man (surprisingly, a villain) and Bubblegum Boy, just for sheer inventiveness.

Penny was in two skits. In the first, she was a tourist in Hawai'i, calling for help when aliens invaded and threatened to eat everything. Luckily, Ice Girl arrived! In the second, Penny was the Secret Service agent protecting the President. The bad guy in that one had hypnotic powers, and put her into a trance so she'd hand the President over. But Bubblegum Boy saved the day!

Bubblegum Boy attacked with a can of silly string, and now Penny really wants her own can of the stuff. We had a chat this morning about where, exactly, silly string could be used. (Namely: outdoors.)

After the plays, there was an "Academy Awards" ceremony, at which each child was presented with an award and got to give a speech of thanks. Penny's award was for "Most Intimidating Secret Service Agent", and she thanked her family, her parents, and her teachers.

Today she's got a class party to say farewell to the student teacher who's been helping out for the last few months. Penny's being a bit maudlin about it, actually. I'm glad there's only another month of regular school left -- she's actually looking forward to daycare summer camp this year, so that won't be a struggle for us, at least.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Exoskeletons and Platypi

Penny and I were talking about the various classifications of animals in the car this morning. In her school science class, they're currently working on the five classifications of vertebrates (birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, for those of you who haven't had biology in a while) and she really seems to have latched onto this as being worthy of her attention in a way that most of the rest of the year's science lessons haven't.

I'd say that I need to read up on my science so that I can answer her questions, but her mind is like fireworks -- a single cluster of information can explode in so many different directions that it's impossible to precisely predict where she's going to go.

This morning, over the duration of about a fifteen-minute drive, we discussed:
  • Whether whales and dolphins are the only mammals that live entirely in the sea. I eventually came up with porpoises and manatees, but couldn't immediately tell her the difference between a porpoise and a dolphin.
  • That sharks are fish.
  • Whether snakes are slimy on their bellies (she had been misinformed by an older child, apparently).
  • That worms can be slimy, but they are not snakes, but a sort of bug, since they aren't reptiles and don't have any bones.
  • How bugs can stand up and walk if they don't have any bones. I got to introduce her to the word exoskeleton, which is an excellent word to know.
  • How crabs and lobsters, despite living in the ocean, are more like bugs than like fish.
  • The various obvious characteristics of reptiles (air-breathing, scales, egg-laying). She knew all this on her own -- the discussion was in how she got to present this to her class.
  • The various obvious characteristics of amphibians (gills as young, lungs as adults, egg-laying, smooth skin).
  • That birds have feathers, though on some birds (e.g., penguins) they're tiny and hard to see. Also, that all birds have wings, though some (e.g., penguins and ostriches) can't fly.
  • The platypus, which I told her was the only mammal that lays eggs (though apparently I was mistaken, as some poking around on wikipedia reveals that echidnas are also monotremes). But since we'd reached school by this point, I pulled up a picture of a platypus for her on my iPhone while we walked up to the school so she could giggle at it.
How does one prepare for that kind of breadth of subject? You really can't, especially since a kid's level of interest can spike and then disappear to be replaced with something else entirely different. You just thank the gods for the internet and its wealth of informative sites -- and quite suddenly realize why your parents bothered shelling out for a set of encyclopedias, back in the pre-'net era.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh Mama

I had a super long weekend.

Friday, after I got the kids to school and did a couple of little chores, I went down to Chesapeake to have lunch with KT and Jess. We ate on the restaurant's porch, which overlooked one of the gazillion little waterways in Norfolk that they use to keep the river delta from flooding the roads, and there were about two dozen or so turtles in the water. Which served to captivate Jess so KT and I could actually talk. Though we were nearly as distracted by the wildlife as Jess was. There were a pair of geese with two fuzzy goslings, and a pretty black bird with red spots on his wings, and even a white heron for a little bit.

After we ate, we went shoe shopping, and I wound up buying three pairs of shoes. Which is actually kind of good, because I don't have any sandals for the summer. Well, I didn't. I do now -- two heeled/dressy pairs for work and Events, and one ugly-but-comfortable pair for the weekends.

Then I stopped at Target on my way home and picked up a couple of short-sleeved cardigans (an excellent way to make my assortment of tank-tops into a viable alternative for work) and a shirt and a skirt that were on clearance.

And then I got home to find that Matt had sent me flowers for Mother's Day. What a sweetie!

Saturday I got up early and met Vicki and her friend Anne at the Williamsburg Farmers' Market. Vicki and I wandered around for the better part of an hour, taking pictures of all the flowers and things.

Vicki had found a cool hack for taking macro (extreme close-up) pictures without a macro lens, so we played with that, and both of us got some cool shots. (It's not the easiest setup, and if you're not careful, it can actually be bad for both the lens and the camera body, but it's a nice way to see how interested you are in macro photography without having to invest in a macro lens right off.)
I took this with my regular old standard kit lens.
I messed with contrast and such in post-processing, but did not crop it at all.

After we'd finished taking pictures and buying tasty treats to take home (I got some bread and two quarts of fresh strawberries) the three of us went to the Blue Talon for breakfast, which was a lovely treat.

That evening, Jennie and Brian and Braz came over, and we ordered out Thai for dinner, and once the kids were in bed, we gamed.

Sunday morning, being Mother's Day, Matt got up with the kids, and they "woke" me (I'd been awake for fifteen minutes or so, and even if I hadn't, Alex made lots of noise coming up the stairs) at 9:00 with breakfast in bed: waffles (well, Eggos) with sliced fresh strawberries and syrup, and coffee, and a banana. How awesome is Matt? Not only did he make coffee for me, even though he hates even the smell of the stuff, but he also added the banana to the menu at the last minute in order to give Alex something relatively low-risk to carry up the stairs for me.

Everyone sat on the bed with me while I ate, and then followed me downstairs to open my presents -- Penny drew me some lovely pictures and a card, and had made me a necklace and bracelet out of clover, which was both clever and adorably sweet. (I wore it for a bit, but the flowers were starting to dry and were scratchy and brittle, so it didn't last long.) Matt gave me the Order of the Stick pre-prequel and a gorgeous multi-rope turquoise necklace.

After Alex's nap, we went down to John and Sam's for dinner. We gave my mom a framed set of pictures of the kids, and some roses that Penny had picked out, and a silly card that I'd picked out. The card had to do with nuts not falling far from the tree, which is relevant because -- hysterically and entirely without planning -- my brother had got her the exact same card! I'm still giggling about that one.

Dinner was awesome -- grilled chicken and pineapple with fruit salad, and raspberry cake for dessert. And Matt took on the bulk of chasing the kids around so I could take pictures and talk to my family, which was great.

So, all in all, extremely awesome weekend. Lots of relaxing and fun stuff, lots of friends, lots of family, lots of good food.

I'm so not ready to be back at work today. But tomorrow is Penny's class "Superhero" play, and then Thursday is the Jonathan Coulton concert, so there's plenty to look forward to.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I had the hardest time dragging out of bed this morning. I wasn't up particularly late last night, and I slept well, but the alarms going off this morning were murder.

I'm still half-dragging, despite having taken Penny to school, taken Alex for an ear checkup (all good), gotten my allergy shots, taken Alex to school, and then come in to work. I've been up for almost four hours, and my brain still refuses to wake up. It's shuffling around the house in a bathrobe, nursing a cup of coffee and flipping TV stations without even bothering to register what's on.

Forcible downtime after the whole proposal thing, I expect. Though I'm going to have to get some work done today at some point. Luckily, I have a whole stack of low-brainpower tasks waiting that should take care of today, and then tomorrow I'm taking the day off. Nope, I still don't know what I'm going to do with it, though at this point, it's looking like I'll drop the kids off at school, then go back to bed for half the day.

Looking forward to the weekend, though. Gaming Saturday and Mother's Day on Sunday, and the weather looks fantastic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The end is in sight. The proposal gets delivered today, and then I can go back to a normal life. Though I only worked until 7:30 last night, which is better than I expected.

What's normal, this week? Well, let's see...

Today, we've got a bunch of corporate bigwigs in the office for a project review. I'll be at the meet-and-greet, but that's about it. Thank goodness. It being Cinco de Mayo, I'm making taco salad for dinner.

Tomorrow morning, Alex has an appointment to have his ears checked again. He hasn't had any real troubles with them, so I suspect that will go fairly smoothly. Since I've got oodles of extra time charged for the week and Matt has his bi-weekly Big Meeting, I'm the cinch to take him for that.

Friday, I'm taking the day off from work. I have no idea yet what I'm going to do with it. I just know that I'm going to make up for the weekend I didn't get.

Saturday, Vicki invited me to go with her to the Farmer's Market in the morning to be a photography nerd. I need to figure out if I can do that or not. And that evening, Jennie and Brian and Braz are coming over and we'll have dinner and then game. (Or else, y'know, we'll just sit around and talk a lot. However it works out.)

Sunday is Mother's Day, so John and Sam are hosting dinner for us and the parents. I'm supposed to bring a fruit salad.

And that's about as far ahead as I've thought. Now it's time for me to go make those last-minute proposal updates.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Cranked up with stress over the proposal and everything, I decided I wanted to go to Rock Band night last night, so I could hit something with sticks and not, you know, get arrested.

It was just Braz and me to start out (Vicki and Elizabeth being at the pool league tournament) and since I didn't really care what the music was as long as I got to play drums, I gave that choice up to Braz. So naturally, he put in Beatles Rock Band and decided we should do the entire Abbey Road album. Vicki showed up two songs in, so we got her a beer and a guitar and started over.

Once that was done, we broke for snacks and beer. Braz checked his RSS feed, and showed us some pictures. We talked about the totally awesome Nerf sword and battleaxe Braz had seen at Target, and we all agreed that we needed to own these things. Braz put Super Mario Brothers in, and he and Vicki played a level.

And then he decided he needed to try out Mad World, which he'd picked up on super-sale from Amazon and hadn't played yet. This is billed as an ultra-violent game. There's really no story. Just a dystopian post-apocalyptic environment, black-and-white graphics that really want to look like, say, Sin City, but kind of fall short, and lots and lots and lots of different ways to kill guys. Nothing wrong with that, mind -- sometimes, you just want to hit things with sticks.

Shamus Young did a Stolen Pixels comic about it which is, actually... kind of accurate.

Anyway, Braz was impatiently tooling through the opening dialogue and trying to get to the play portion of the tutorial while Vicki and I watched. "Look at the guy's ass," I told Vicki. I couldn't tell if they were trying for jeans or leather or what, but the guy's pants were low-riders that hugged his ass so tight you could practically count the hairs. "There's no way those pants have enough room in them for the jewels."

"That's why he's so pissed!" Braz suggested. Finally up to the action parts of the games, he started generating mayhem.

"Bitch!" accused one of the bad guys. Vicki and I busted up laughing.

"Who's your daddy?!" the game demanded. I tweeted something about how Vicki and I were watching Braz play the game and analyzing its homoerotic subtexts for the amusement value. (Only, you know, because I was laughing so hard, I wasn't nearly that erudite about it.)

Then it started getting into items, and the usable items that weren't phallic were all made of rubber, and it stopped being a subtle subtext.. Suddenly the entire thing ceased to be an ultraviolent killfest and became a poignant glimpse into the designer's deeply closeted fantasies.

We may well have ruined the game for Braz, but it's been a long time since I laughed that hard.

Monday, May 3, 2010

When It Rains

Like flipping a switch, as soon as May arrived, the weather decided to become summery: highs in the 80s and 90s, lots of sun, great outdoors weather.

So, naturally, I spent the weekend at work, trying to get this proposal cleaned up and ready to deliver this week. Well, half of it, anyway. My friend Alexis is in town to conduct a training class, so we had her over for dinner last night, and that was a great break.

But I spent seven hours Saturday and four hours Sunday in my office's freezing conference room, rewriting a 45-page document line by line to try to make it read smoothly and compellingly, while making sure we also covered all the requirements and used the same language the customer was using, and... like that.

The weird thing is that, aside from the whole working overtime on the weekends thing, this is the part of the job I actually really enjoy.

We didn't finish, by any stretch, but what's left is work that only needs one person to do -- there's a few sentences to write, and I need to make sure we're defining all our acronyms before we use them, and update a few graphics, and then do a final scrub on the formatting to get everything pretty and neat.

I've got today and tomorrow to do that. I'm relatively certain I can get it all done in that time without having to work overtime, depending on when the last pricing spreadsheet comes in. (Translation: I'm a ridiculous optimist, and will probably be here late Tuesday.)

Of course, none of our other work has stopped in the meantime, so I've got other documents to review, spreadsheets to update, meetings to attend and hold...

So, quite naturally, I noticed last night as I was getting ready for bed that my throat felt a little sore. And this morning it's noticeably worse. I peered at it with a flashlight, and I don't see those telltale white spots you get with strep throat, but whatever it is, this is the Wrong Time for me to be getting sick. So I shall be roundly ignoring it and pretending it's just allergies until Wednesday or Thursday.

Wish me luck. It's time to grab some coffee and dive into the document.