Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The week where nothing happened

I am having a terribly unproductive week at work.

Monday was unproductive because I – along with at least 75% of the team – was exhausted. We had a deploy over the weekend which started at 6:00 p.m. => continual deploy-stuff going on => finished at about 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

And then I got paged at 8:30 Sunday night because of a job failure and ended up tilting at windmills for another two hours.

You know how sometimes, after pulling two back-to-back all-nighters followed by a few hours of thinking you’re done and then a couple hours of unexpected ahh!ahh!ahh!, you’re so tired that even while sitting down, you’re kind of weaving? And then you go to bed at a mostly reasonable hour, and you’re all, yessssssssss, finally, I’m going to get, like, SEVEN WHOLE HOURS, AT LEAST, OF SLEEP!! – but then instead, you go to bed and find yourself so tired you literally cannot open your eyes, BUT, you can’t seem to actually SLEEP?!

Me. Sunday night. ARGH!

So, duh, Monday was mostly spent yawning, drinking coffee, yawning some more, and answering questions from people about the new World Order all. day. long.

While yawning.

Yesterday could have been more or less productive, but then it turned out that it was apparently curveball day and nobody thought to include me on the memos.

By the end of the day, I not only hadn’t made any progress, I ended up five steps further back.

Argh.

Today started off almost OK, but, I’d forgotten that we had the quarterly all-hands meeting (<= almost two hours of meeting), and the post-deploy user dog-n-pony show for one of our partners, and suddenly people were pinging me with questions about all kinds of things, and it was one of those days where I was really-really busy, and doing useful things…but all of them for other people about other things and by the end of the day, I hadn’t gotten a lick of my code rewritten.

{very long and emphatic bout of cussing goes here}

Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

Hopefully one in which I can actually get some of, you know, my own work knocked out…

Monday, August 17, 2015

The culling of the flies

(This is a post about killing flies. If vindictively killing flies invading a domicile makes you squeamish, this would be a good post to skip.)

(Don’t look at me like that, not everybody thinks that all flies deserve to die, die RIGHT NOW, immediately, because, EW, FLIES!…and they are usually very good people and deserve to be warned that the rest of us are going to be high-fiving each other about their demise as if our favorite team had just won the Superbowl or something.)

So, we are once again in a Month of Pestilence™ – between living directly behind the folks with the dog rescue (the poop…good gahd, the POOP!) (seriously, do not go into our backyard when they are doing the scoop-duty [doody?] back there…you will be rendered completely unconscious by the stench…and then you will suffocate, possibly to DEATH, because seriously, that smell is just…wow…) and being adjacent to horse-worthy ranchettes, you can probably imagine the kinds of fly problems we have several times a year.

Yessir, luxury livin’ out here. If it isn’t Fly Season, it’s probably either Fertilizer Season or Plowing Season. Take your pick: Flying vermin, fascinating Eu du Cow Poop aromas, or dust, dust, dust, dust, DUST!

ANYWAY – yeah. The bugs, they are a-breedin’ and a-swarmin’ and every single day I must swat two dozen or more flies, and yet they are still everywhere.

I killed every single fly I could find on my lunch break today, which was – totally not lying – over twenty of them. Went back in the kitchen three hours later? => dozens. DOZENS! of them, swarming up and down the windows, waggling their tongues at me, doing intricate line-dances up and down the countertops, rubbing their filthy little hands together like debt collectors eyeballing a particularly ripe mark…argh!!

Just, ew.

I have a real problem with flies. They gross me out way out of proportion to their actual nastiness, you know? I have less of a problem with, say, horse excrement than I do with the flies that like to congregate on it.

Like, I wouldn’t mind picking up the nice clean horse poop with my bare hands, but omg, no, ew-ew-ew-ew, yuck, grossssssssss, there were FLIES on it!!

I do not claim this is particularly rational of me, or even remotely sane of me for that matter, but, that’s just how I am about flies.

Because, ew.

I’ve tried deputizing Denizens to hunt them after school (they get bored and wander off fast).

I’ve tried training the cats (yeah, worked about as well as you’d expect) (Schilling will literally lie there and pat in the general direction of bugs that are all but dancing on her paws – but will seldom actually get up and go after them.) (And Fleur appears to have zero depth perception or something. Seriously. She will line herself up and wriggle her butt and make all forms of Readiness, and then pounce…three inches off from her target. {face-palm})

We just replaced all the windows – ALL THE WINDOWS – and their screens (still getting in, somehow).

I even tried the poisonous window-stickers, even though it made me kind of anxious to have, you know, insecticide ON my windows. Meh, did almost nothing.

I’ve tried spraying the screens with repellent, which added a fantastic scent to the house and made opening the windows pretty much a nonstarter for a while, but which seemed to do exactly nothing to reduce the infestation.

But then a couple nights ago, I was sitting here trying to work on my computer and being swarmed by everything from silverfish to @^&@ing flies (attracted by the glow from my monitor, naturally – and I just happened to be between them and the light source, awesome…I swear, at one point I was starting to wonder if I shouldn’t be a courteous host and set up little frickin’ picnic tables on my shoulders or something for them), and I said to myself, said I, “Self! That’s it. I am going to find something that will work on these @^*@&ing bugs!”

And that’s how I came to order this little baby: INDOOR bug zapper.

…say hallo to mah leetle friend…!

It’s got a UV light in it that attracts them, and then they hit the wires and zot! – or so they claimed. And I was starting to feel as though they were biting me (they weren’t, it was just that ‘I’m so creeped out that my brain is helpfully supplying me with the sensation that I appear to be so determined to feel’ thing kicking in), so, bam, into the cart, ship it, get it here YESTERDAY, please-n-thank-you.

This afternoon, Captain Adventure skidded sideways into my office to announce that the delivery person had left something on the porch, and there it was. We took it into the kitchen (which is currently pretty dark, because meanwhile in other news it is [checks thermostat] 106 degrees outside [!!!!], so I’ve got all the curtains drawn to keep us from dying of either heat stroke or the electricity bill), set it up, plugged it in…and turned it on.

Less than fifteen seconds later…crack!

We both jumped, shrieked, and giggled.

I felt guilty for giggling, because it seems to me that even if we’re talking about my dreaded enemy, the common housefly, there should be some solemnity involved in their passing.

But in my defense, y’all would have to hear this crack! It’s like a mini lightning bolt from $DEITY, reaching out and smiting the wee sinners as they nefariously buzz to pollute some innocent fruit or other with their nastiness. Even when you know it is going to happen, when you’ve been warned that it will be a loud, sharp cracking noise, it’s still…incredibly startling.

And then…I walked across the room.

The air around me moved, and the flies took to their wings and began that cloud-like swarming they do whenever the air moves, and the next thing we knew it was like $DEITY was makin’ popcorn in there.

It had eliminated eighteen of them in the first ten minutes.

eeeeeeeeeeYES!!

I think this may be the start of a beautiful friendship; I can’t wait to set it up in my office tonight and see if it can’t do something about all the little buggers (ha!) that have been crawling and flying out of the woodwork as soon as the sun sets lately…

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I blinked

Four Denizens in various states of excitement, denial, and disgust were loaded up and disbursed to their various schools Tuesday morning.

I blinked, and summer vacation is over.

I blinked, and May became August.

I blinked, and my baby became a sixth grader. And my eldest a high school senior. HOW is this possible?!

…omg…in nine short months my baby is going to be a LEGAL! ADULT!

{…crawls into box, shuts flap…not happening, not happening, not happening…}

Sigh.

Time is playing a nasty trick on me these last few years. On the one hand, the individual days often feel interminable; each 24-hour period seems to take fifty hours or more to actually happen, you know?

But at the same time, the daily grind lulls me into a kind of timeless state; each day blurs into the next, simultaneously interminable and yet on the whole going by so damned fast that I am constantly feeling this way. Is it Monday, or Thursday? Wait, it’s Friday already? WAIT. How can it be AUGUST already?! What happened to July? Or JUNE, for that matter?!

Because all I did was blink, and spring became summer became almost-fall.

…all I did…was blink

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Raid Level: SATURDAY at COSTCO

Last night, the dreadful news rang out throughout the house: We were OUT of dishwasher detergent.

After a moment of stunned silence, outright panic erupted. Cupboards were frantically emptied in a desperate search. Closets were rifled. Every possible nook and cranny was explored. In vain.

DEAR.

GOD.

WE.

ARE.

OUT.

OF.

DISHWASHER.

DETERGENT…?!?!?!?!

Every last one of us around here views hand washing the dishes with a level of dread normally reserved for things like root canals and algebra finals; this is because there are six lazy people in this house who all have a terrible habit of somehow managing to use three dishes, four knives, two drinking glasses and, rather inexplicably, eight spoons every damned time they so much as make a sandwich.

And then leave them right where they are. Coated in peanut butter and/or jelly and/or mayonnaise and/or mustard and or ketchup. Slowly hardening on (or into) the countertop until they look more like bizarre pieces of modern art than utensils meant for eating.

The collective response to this is usually to fill the sink with water, shove everything into it, and walk away whistling; a few hours later, the softened mess gets a quick rinse and into the dishwasher it goes.

Clearly, my plans for today had to include a trip to somewhere that dishwashing detergent could be procured; I did not particularly want to venture out into the land of Retail on a weekend for heaven’s sake, but, it was simply not to be gotten around.

This was an emergency.

…but over the course of the next few hours, an even more horrible reality began to dawn for me: We were also on the last gallon of milk. I had opened the last bag of coffee that morning. And the very last can of green beans the night before. The empty egg carton in the sink (seriously, what the hell is wrong with these lunatics I live with?! who does that? who tosses an EMPTY EGG CARTON into the SINK like that?!) was indeed the last of the egg cartons.

There were no more crackers, no more cheese, we were perilously close to being out of toilet paper and soap, someone had eaten the very last of the popcorn, we had zero cans of vegetables out in the pantry, and worst of all, my personal stash of soda had dried up.

Noooooooooooo!

At first, I tried to rationalize my way out of it. Maybe I could buy just a get-me-by amount of the barest essentials at the supermarket around the corner, and not deal with the full shop until midweek next week…maybe on my ‘lunch’ hour, which comes at about 9:30 or so in the morning thanks to my working east-coast hours…

…and surely I could substitute something else for my soda in the meantime…say, maybe, coconut rum? I mean, any port in a storm, right?!

But as my conniving was coming to a fevered pitch, the more sensible side of me gave me a good slap on the cheeks and screamed, “SNAP OUT OF IT, WOMAN! Face the facts! You need to go to Costco. On a Saturday. You cannot put this off until next week, you know next week is going to be madness, it’s the last week of development for the August release, all kinds of Crazy is absolutely going to happen. You can do this.

Now. Because I hate shopping with a mad passion, I am always focused on greatest possible efficiency when I head out to the wastelands of Retail America. I do not want to browse. I do not want to stand there learning all the glorious facts about the new and improved Crunchy Snack’Ems (now made with GLUTEN-FREE cardboard!).

I want to get in, follow a path that has as few wasted steps as possible through the store to get my stuff, and get the hell out. I plan trips to the mall as if I am planning to invade a foreign country with only a handful of carefully selected soldiers.

But this…this…this was worse than trying to take on an end-game raid in mythic mode. This was ultra epic hard core mode. This was end-game mythic level raiding and level-capped PVP all rolled into one.

It was madness.

It was Costco. On a Saturday.

I put on my flak helmet, took out my mental map of the store and made my plans. The Enemy would be mostly clustered around the center aisles of the warehouse – engrossed in the sample tables lining the two central aisles, and browsing through the electronics and other bright-plastic-offerings to be had there.

SO. Upon entering the store I would immediately skirt around the back side of the registers to the pharmacy section, and enter the bulk food aisles from that unguarded territory.

Ha! Brilliant! This was a section that was typically utterly devoid of Enemy presence! I could then work my way up the bulk food aisles, leaving the cart at the outer edge of them away from the sample tables and free from excessive interference – I could simply thread my way through them, like a gazelle, snatch the bags and boxes I needed, and scurry back to the relative safety of the Dead Zone on that far side.

…but…the tricky bit…was going to be the dairy and frozen goods section. A lot of resources The Enemy finds particularly valuable shares shelf space with the more mundane ones I’m after.Too many choices in the aisles, too. Enormous boxes of waffles, five kinds of pizza-themed snacks, ice cream treats.

And of course, sodas and other sugary beverages were immediately beyond them, another hot spot for Enemy activity. There’s no way around it, that stretch of real estate was going to be crawling with the very worst The Enemy had to offer. Sample tables on all sides of the aisles, offering the choicest of preprocessed, ready-to-eat, overly sugared-and-salted num-nums known to man.

I chewed my lip. Just how much did I need more soda? Would it be possible…NO! NEVER! Why, my credibility as a ‘lead’ developer could be thrown into doubt if it were discovered that I went through an ENTIRE last-week-of-deploy-cycle or heavens, perhaps even a late-night production issue crisis WITHOUT a soda somewhere near to hand! It would be like…like…Colonel Hannibal without his cigar!

OK. Yes. Soda aisle = not optional. OK. I would just have to blast my way through it.

After that, I just had to make it past the inevitable red zone of the ‘personal blender’ guy and his continual hawking and I’d be back in the relatively clear ‘boring’ aisles where the super-sized cases of toilet paper, dishwasher detergent and such were stored.

Mad sprint back from Up Yonder to the registers, and the inevitable jockeying around between there and the door (NOBODY wants to be behind me at the door, so they will damn near sprint to pass me, sometimes creating some interesting traffic jams in the process), and then I’d be home free.

It would work. It had to work. Our way of life was being threatened. It was time to STEP UP, BE STRONG, AND GET-ER-DONE! FOR THE HORDE!!!!!!!

(My goodness, this guy Tooth-w [creator of this image] has some really intense pieces up on Deviant Art. Nice.) (Also, this is pretty much how I feel every time I have to go out and do the shopping. Lok’tar ogar!!)

It was a fierce battle, but eventually…victory was mine. I staggered up the driveway burdened with super-sized bags of rice, tortillas, frozen and canned vegetables, and yes, dishwashing detergent. Which I nearly forgot I needed after having hewed my way past Personal Blender Guy and his inevitable band of thrice-cursed groupies.

Once again, we have the peace that comes of being able to throw filthy dishes into a machine and turn it on instead of actually dealing with them; once again, we may partake of omelets, put cheese upon crackers, gorge ourselves on the cereal that is supposed to last two months such that it is all gone within a week, and partake of many mochas, lattes and other caffeine-bearing beverages.

There is toilet paper awaiting our (ahem) needs.

And, my team will not have to go without the comforting sound of me confidently rummaging around in my mini fridge at omg o’clock during a deploy call, pulling out and cracking open a can of diet Pepsi while muttering vaguely to myself about whether or not we really ought to have done step five first, and then step seven followed by step six, eh, not that it REALLY matters except POSSIBLY it would have been a bit FASTER because, you know, REASONS…because once again I only think I hit the mute button did not actually do so.

Yes.

For now, our way of life is preserved.

For now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Troll level: Mom

Soooooooo…in a couple hours here, we’re celebrating Captain Adventure’s 11th birthday, omg no way how is it POSSIBLE that my BABY is ELEVEN! YEARS! OLD?!

Predictably, he has exactly one (1) thing on his wish list: Video games.

Sigh – yeah, he’s my kid all right. The two of us are hopeless gamers. Honestly, I suspect the only reason I haven’t long ago quit my job and quit mom-ing and quit just about everything else in favor of sitting on my arse surrounded by a mountain of empty Diet Pepsi containers and pizza boxes in a darkened room playing video games is because my actual job feels exactly the same to me as video games do: Digital logic puzzles, all day long, what’s not to love?!

But I digress.

NATURALLY, Captain Adventure not only having made the fact that he only wants video games for his birthday very, very, very, very, VERY clear…means I have to mess with him a little.

I set the scene a couple days ago when he was yet again making absolutely sure that his dumb-arsed mother was completely aware of his birthday-present-related video game desires.

“Wellllll, but, I’m pretty sure Grandma and Grandpa are getting you a video game,” I said in my best ‘Mom Being Reasonable, a.k.a., BORING!’ voice. “Don’t you want something else, too? Like, some clothes?”

NO. He did not want clothes. Mom: Look at my face. NO. CLOTHES. MOM. JUST, NO.

“…but you know, kiddo, sure it’s really hot right now [really hot, we have had the worst summer for dry, unrelenting heat that I can remember in a long, LONG time], but, it’s going to get cold soon. AND you’re going back to school in a couple weeks. Don’t you also need some long sleeves shirts? That actually fit and don’t have holes in them?!”

(All of his shirts end up with holes in them, because he insists on gouging pencils through them. ARGH!) (Says the woman who owns exactly zero pens that do not have teeth marks in them because her brain-is-in-idle-mode habit is putting a pen into her mouth and gnawing on it, I have no idea why…I never mean to, I just sort of become aware that I’m doing it…siiiiiiiigh…)

He looked at me with that expression that clearly says, How is this idiot able to even FUNCTION, with NO BRAINS?! And, no, he did not think a shirt was even a slightly OK birthday present. Geez, mom…

“…oh! I know! you know what else you need? Socks, dude. Socks. Your socks are all too small, and most of them are getting mighty threadbare, too…”

If looks could kill, I would be ghost writing right now. NO, MOM. NO SOCKS EITHER.

Heh. Little man, I HAVE YOU NOW…

Now, with my Captain, I can’t do things like I did to Boo Bug a few years ago, where I hid her actual present in the other room and made her suffer for a couple minutes (we still laugh about that) (those stupid knock-off Little Pony things went on to have a very happy life with a very excited four year old who still loves them madly even though she is now a sophisticated seven year old).

While he’s got an excellent sense of humor, and “gets” teasing pretty well – he’s also got a shorter fuse, and could actually get really upset if he thought for more than a few seconds that we had actually only gotten him, you know, clothes.

So! First I wrapped his present from Grandma and Grandpa separately, and I’ll have him open that one first because it is the one game he really-really-really-really-really-really-no-reallyreally wanted.

Then…

…one long-sleeved shirt wrapped around his actual presents…

…a few pairs of socks for added troll-factor…

and now, we wait…

mwaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha…!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Captcha

Soooooo, there's some potty-mouth in this, but OMG, YES, this is totally me whenever I get one of those beepity-beep-honk-honk captcha things...

Friday, July 10, 2015

It all started with a lemon…

I was sitting at my desk late one afternoon avoiding chores watching the squirrels a couple weeks ago, and they had once again gotten themselves a lemon off the lemon tree.

But unlike the last time I watched them, they were actually eating it.

They clearly did not like it, but nevertheless, they screwed up their little squirrely faces and took nibble after resolute nibble.

My first thought was, Dammit, they’re going to DECIMATE that tree this year.

Then I thought, …wait…why are they torturing themselves like that…?

And then the obvious reared up and smacked me in the back of the head. My yard looks exactly like all the yards right now; and like most of the fields around here, too.

Dry, cracked ground. No sprinklers running, ever. Water being rationed out manually on an irregular basis as sparingly as possible, with extra care given to ensuring it doesn’t pool up or overflow. Areas that would normally be lush with growing vegetables just empty beds, waiting for the drought to loosen its chokehold on us.

Shoot, half of the trees around here are dead – the water table has dropped so low that they just can’t cope. Wells are running dry all over the area, smaller farms are shutting down for the duration, the sloughs are dropping so low that they’re being closed to anything bigger than an inflatable raft…

…they don’t want to eat the lemons, they’re desperate for the juice inside them.

Yes, I felt sorry for them, but mostly I found myself contemplating what was going to happen to the handful of things I am still trying to grow; devil a tomato was I going to get, if those squirrels were really hungry or thirsty. I could forget about my moccasin beans, too. And they’d probably eat every last one of those lemons.

And hate every last nibble of it.

Sigh.

There are two basic ways to go about dealing with tree squirrels when they decide to move into your yard: You can go to war, or you can try to figure out a way to live together.

Considering that they have been amusing the heck out of me with their antics on and around the lumber and masonry piles, and given that I’m not particularly interested in entering into a prolonged period of having traps or poisons out in an attempt to eradicate them (which is seldom more than a momentary victory anyway, another tribe is going to move in right behind the one you just got rid of) – I decided to go with the “negotiate” method.

I’ve put out a small water thing like this one in the shade right next to the nesting den – they can get a drink without having to expose themselves to the hunting hawks and crows.

I’ve also started leaving them little (very little, I don’t want to be either their sole source of food or start having so much food out that all the varmints from everywhere want to move in) caches of Critter Food (designed for squirrels and their cousins – I don’t want to end up making them sick!) in and around the storage areas – well away from my garden beds, but where I can still watch them going through their acrobatics to get at them. And also where they have a lot of places to hide if…well, when, there really isn’t much if there…a crow or hawk decides to have a go at them.

I figured if I could give them easier access to stuff they actually liked more they might be willing to be content with it – so far, it seems to be working. I started doing this last weekend, and guess what? Not even one more lemon has been endured by the Squirrel Clan. They’ve also stopped digging around in my potato containers, stealing unripe tomatoes, and putting tooth marks into my bean pods.

For bonus points, Momma Squirrel has become even more territorial than she always was (which was pretty darned territorial – after all, this is her nest and her kits we’re talking about here); this afternoon, a rather large interloper dared to poke his nose into the yard, and she ran him off almost before he’d even gotten a paw fully onto this side of the fence. You go, momma!

Well, we’ll see how it goes.

On the bright side, I have to say: I’m really enjoying having them around. A lot more than makes sense, really…I’m not even all that mad about the lost tomatoes, come right down to it. Watching the squirrel-babies growing up is better than a thousand Netflix videos, and somehow every time I catch a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye and glance up just in time to see one of them make an insane leap from one shelf of masonry to another – a leap three or four times their entire body length and with a nasty plummet ahead if they missed – it just kind of makes me smile, you know?

You’re insane, little squirrels. You’ve got more guts than sense, you go for what you want, you’re amazingly graceful even when you’re taking a face-plant because you misjudged how stable that stick you were jumping from was, you are totally OK with just flopping for a quick nap in the middle of a romp and basically you’re just so in the moment, all the time. 

I respect and admire that, more than I like to admit.

…rock on, you little lunatics, rock on…