Saturday, September 27, 2014

We walk among you

Sooooooooooooooo…I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) a lot lately. (The five-second review? I like it. It has its problems, it has its rough edges and things that make me go, “Pah, this again?!” – but by and large, it’s a fun way for me to spend my evenings.)

So. In just about every game I play which has such things, I am…ahem…a somewhat avid farmer. Meaning that I collect raw materials – plants for potions, ores for smithing, wood for bows and so forth – whenever I see them.

It almost pains me to pass up an ore-node, or leave a pile of lumber on the ground…not pick the lock on a chest, or open the barrel to see what’s inside.

I also have a somewhat embarrassing tendency to be so focused on my farming that I don’t notice things like, say, the level ha-ha-MUCH-higher-than-YOU super-elite troll now with Super Special Player Killing One-Shot Powers that is standing right on top of the ore-node.

“…oh…well, hello there, big fellah…aaaaaaaaand, I’m dead again…sigh…”

Now, I told you all of that so I could tell you about this.

One of my guilds in ESO is called ‘Get Rich or Die Farming.’ I think I’d actually call it my “main” guild – it’s definitely the one I enjoy most in terms of interactions with others, and it’s extremely active and full of fun, helpful people who help each other over the rough bits and such.

One afternoon our guild master came up with these.

And of course I bought one, because it made me laugh. 

In due course it went through the laundry and percolated to the top of the stack in my drawer and I put it on and wore it. Because it was a) clean and b) the next one on the stack in my drawer.

Look, I’ll be blunt: I’m getting dressed at about 4:45 in the morning, OK? And I probably didn’t get to bed before 11:00 or 11:30 the night before. Because that’s just what always happens, no matter how ardently I vow that tonight, I am TOTALLY going to be IN BED by no later than 9:30.

“Let’s see, which of my fine frocks shall I wear today, and what cunning accessories shall I wear with it?” are just not questions I’m willing to entertain at that hour. Next shirt in the drawer, pants aaaaaand, DONE.

But I digress.

So I’m wearing this shirt, and I’m not thinking anything of it really. I wear a lot of shirts that have things Muggles might not understand on them. Anime characters, slogans from the 70s, the occasional “if you work in any of the major coding languages, you will totally get this” or “decode these math symbols for a joke!” thing – so I’m not too surprised if someone is kind of looking at my chest with an expression that clearly says something like, “Math…hurts…” (The one thing we can rule out pretty much immediately is that they’re looking at my breasts. Unless they have a magnifying glass in their hand. Or binoculars. Ahem. Moving on.)

SO THERE I AM. Sporting my guild t-shirt and heading back across the street to Homer the Odyssey after having deposited Captain Adventure at the gates of the Hallowed Halls of Learning.

AND THERE’S THIS OTHER MOM, standing at the crosswalk with me, staring at my chest and making the math-hurts face.

I had to glance down at my shirt to remember which one I was wearing. And then I was a bit confused because really…uh…this isn’t one of those puzzle-shirts, it’s just, you know, a slogan, right?

And then she suddenly goes, “Is that, like, a statement about how conventional farming is totally about corporate greed these days, and that’s why our food chain is so broken that it is killing us?” 

First I went Disappointed smile

Then I went Thinking smileoooooookayyyyyy, that was an…INTERESTING…leap, but I GUESS I can KINDA see it…

“Er, no. Hahaha. No. This is actually from a game – it’s the name of one of my guilds in Elder Scrolls.”

She’s still making math hurts face at me, which really should have been my cue to just say, “…it’s a video game” and shut up, but oh no, that would have been something a normal person would do.

Instead, I went full on Alien

And that was why, $DEITY forgive me, I tried to explain MMOs, guilds, ‘farming’ in video games and in-game economies.

You know, the talking-too-fast Cliff’s Notes version. Because we’re standing on the street waiting for the crossing guard to force the reluctant drivers to obey her.

And now then she’s looking at me like I just went, “Meepa-beepa! MeepMeep! Boop-boop-meep-waaaaaaahka-whaka-wahKA! Woot-woot! Beep!”

So she did what any suburban mother would do when confronted by an alien making beeping noises and said, “Oh, that sounds like fun…”

“Uh, yeah. It…yeah, it is. Hahaha. Ahem. Have a good one!”

“You too, hahaha!”

I couldn’t help but think, though, as I settled in front of my massive monitors, ergonomic keyboard and Mouse of Many Buttons that she was actually pretty darned lucky.

I might have been wearing my “Not Normalized” shirt.

No, well, hahaha, OK, see, in database development? ‘normalization’ refers to…uh, noooo, actually, not ‘OH GOD, MAKE IT STOP!!!’ but rather…

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Meanwhile, in knitting…

According to my Ravelry notebook, I started working on the Fia Pullover in March 2013; as I recall, I got the sleeves done in no time flat, and then shot through about the first three inches of the main body…and then…well…I suddenly went, “…eh…” and set it aside.

Just as suddenly, I regained my enthusiasm for it not terribly long ago, pulled it out and started working on it again. It’s actually a rather pleasant knit – the “main” pattern requires having the ability to count and pay attention and thus I can readily see why I decided it made lousy BART knitting…but the side patterns are very easily memorized and require almost zero thought to speak of.

Which means that I can totally work on this while I’m watching foreign films with subtitles. Woot.

I realized last night that I was a mere ten rounds from the Beginning of the End – the shoulder shaping. 

At the moment, I am choosing to ignore the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done on this after the shoulders are cast off, and am allowing myself to enjoy the feeling of being “almost done” with it at last.

That I then have the blocking to do, and sewing and cutting the steeks on the main body and the sleeves, attaching the sleeves, and then the picking up and knitting of the collar…are problems for later.

For right now, I’m almost done.

Yay me!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Colds and Ceilings

I have a cold. A really nasty one, the kind where symptoms just kind of keep piling up on you. Fever, chills, cement-in-sinuses, coughing so hard you’re a little afraid you’re going to throw up, can’t breathe, wait, how can my nose be RUNNING this much when I’m so STUFFED UP?!, and no-medicine-on-earth-seems-to-do-anything-for-me sort of cold.

This has got to be some kind of record: The Denizens have only been in school for about two weeks, and bam. They brought home the bubonic plague for me to catch. Awesome.

Meanwhile, of course, both work and the construction on the Den continue without the slightest pause. Which is also desperately unfair. I mean, really, there ought to be some kind of law which says that when someone is clearly dying, everything around them should just, you know, stop. As a sign of some respect for their increasingly-delicate condition.

Especially things that involve loud banging noises or asking the dying person whether or not something is on-track for deploy on a specific date.

And man, it should be straight-up illegal to ask The Afflicted about items they’re allegedly supposed to be finishing up by a specific – and all-too-quickly approaching – date while there are loud banging noises going on in the background.

But, alas, the world does not work as it should. So work has this completely irrational idea that I’m going to be, you know, working during my shift (feh!), and that I’m going to be getting things done on time (whatever!) and that I will be maintaining “professional behavior” (pfffft!) and stuff like that.

While there has been much hammering, sawing, banging, thumping, and the occasional whoop of “whoa!” going on in the background.

Meanwhile, I opened my home office door (a.k.a., my bedroom door) Tuesday afternoon at the end of my work day and my house looked absolutely surreal.

The whole house seemed to be swathed in this plastic. Floor to ceiling. Taped down, so, um…question…? How do I get into my KITCHEN…?

It was kind of creepy, actually. Like something out of a slasher film. Brrrr.

But, there has been a lot of progress in four short days. On the outside of the house, we have a new office downstairs, and a bedroom upstairs.

My office has a door out to the garden (squee!), and windows on the other walls looking out into it (double squee!). (It also has a door inside the house – I won’t have to, you know, go outside to get into my office or anything.)

It’s a little hard to envision what it will be like when it’s a house instead of…a garage? or a storage shed? which is kind of how it feels right now.

To get access to the upstairs bedroom, well, we needed a new walkway. This was trickier than we expected, naturally, because it couldn’t go where we had sort of thought it should due to code-stuff and clearance-stuff and load-bearing stuff.

So instead, you come up to the top of the stairs and make a u-turn onto the new walkway. But not right now. It’s missing the railings and such. Really kind of asking for trouble, trying to walk across that right now. (This does not, of course, stop the cats. In fact, they were also undaunted when it was just the support beams. What? I’m just out for a little STROLL, clumsy human…)

That walkway leads to a big new loft area, formerly the vaulted ceiling over the dining room…

…and the new upstairs bedroom is on the other side of that lit-up area. Which is a window. Which is going to be torn out of there pretty soon.

Much as we’d like to think we’re “nearly there” given that we have, you know, walls and floors and stuff, the sad truth is: We’re barely getting started. This is actually the “easy” part – the hard parts are still to come.

Like, it’s a little hard to get the perspective from that picture, but the total clearance where the door to the new bedroom will be is, I think, less than four feet.

Clearly not going to work.

So, the whole roof on that side of the house has to be “lifted” up by several feet.

That’s where I’m pretty sure things are going to suddenly start slowing way down; and of course the “finishing” work is extremely frustrating on that front. It’s like, done, buuuuuuuut, now you’re waiting for somebody to show up with paint, and then there’s all this “OK, so, we did our hour of work and now we have to wait X-long for things to dry or set, so, see ya tomorrow, lady!” stuff…

So I’m trying to enjoy this period of easily-measurable progress while it lasts.

Even if it does involve a rather insane amount of hammering, and sawing, and banging, and crashing, and…

Monday, August 25, 2014

Progress is not for the faint of heart

Today was…noisy.

Because they were doing this to my poor Den.

You know those moments when you look at something that is in-progress and you think to yourself, OMG, wait, this can-NOT be right, time out, let’s think about this…!

I had that moment late this morning, when I was on a call and there was this tremendous whump from the construction area and then I heard something crash in the kitchen.

It took pretty much every last ounce of willpower I had to remain calm, stay with the meeting I was in, and not tear off my headset and go flying downstairs to see what on earth had made that ungodly clatter. (<= this is always a mistake – if I set foot out there, it will take a good half hour before I can get back inside, and, well, I really don’t have an endless supply of extra-long-coffee-break periods in an average day that I can burn on Such Things)

Later, I discovered that it was the kitchen knives, falling off their magnetic holders; apparently, having the other side of the wall they are on, you know, ripped off the house was a little too much vibration for them to maintain a good grip on the knives.

I looked at the knives, and I said to myself, “Right…now, where did I put that old knife block…?”

And then I had one of those little walks down memory lane, remembering that phase Captain Adventure went through some years ago as a toddler, where we could not keep his chubby little mitts off the blasted kitchen knives. He was fascinated by them. I tried putting them into a child-“proof” drawer => he’d have them out in under five seconds flat. I tried “hiding” them in a child-“proof” cupboard => hahahahaha, yeah, how’d THAT work out?!

I tried the top of fridge. I tried keeping them in the den. Eventually, I got that magnetic strip, hung it over the stovetop, which is a terrible place to put your good kitchen knives but as much as he looooooooved to play with my knives (!!!), he was afraid of that stovetop. He wouldn’t go within a foot of it.

Voila. He never went after the knives again. Although he did pitch a few huge temper tantrums about their new location; he’d sit on the floor, tilt his head back and just howl about it, occasionally looking at them out of the corner of his eye with undisguised longing and despair.

And would go absolutely pink and purple with fury if I tried to offer him something like, you know, a spatula, or a toy knife instead. You insult my intelligence, woman! Begone, and take your lousy imitation-of-life with you!

But I digress.

According to theory, all of this stuff – and there’s rather a lot of it, let me tell you – is going to magically become walls…and the first story of our two-story addition will be framed.

You guys have no idea, NO IDEA!, how hard it was not to be a smart-arse about this today. They kept going, “Blah blah blah and then this will be framed…” and I so wanted to say something like, “Gasp! Should I start looking for a good lawyer to get it off with maybe just some community service or something? or is this going to be so thorough a frame-job that it’s just hopeless and the best we can hope for is 30 years in Sing-Sing?!” But I did resist. Because I figured either a) they wouldn’t get it or b) they would get it and be all like “HAHAHAHA…like we haven’t heard that one a few hundred times…today…”

Another thing that took an awful lot of effort from me…well, they needed to make room for what-all they’re doing and their supplies and such-like. So they did this.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! I TOO CAN HARDLY STAND THE HORROR OF THIS…oh…you…don’t see it?

Not at all? Nothing jumping out at you? Like maybe a slight difference in, you know, texture, front v. back parts of this pile…?

AW, C’MON. The back of this pile is just dirt. It’s (some of) the just dirt they dug out so they could pour the concrete slab that is currently mocking my ripped-out outer walls with its pristine newness.

But the front pile, the one they so cavalierly hurled atop the just dirt one they made last week…that…is my garden bed soil.

It is not dirt.

It is a magical blend of just dirt and compost and peat moss and you do not want to know how much time and sweat and tears (OK, fine, in the interest of full disclosure, any actual tears in there were probably caused by my sunscreen dripping [or being wiped] into my eyeballs) went into making it into that frothy confection suitable for growing ruler-straight carrots or big, round-globes onions or, you know, whatever.

Of course, it is also garden soil that isn’t going to have a bed to go into for quite some time; even after they get this first story frame up off the ground, the second story is just going to be rush-delivered right into the same spots.

Still. I keep looking at it, every time I go out there. That is some awfully nice soil, right there, I think to myself.

And then I just kind of look around the yard…surely there must be somewhere out of harms way where I could get, you know, a small-ish new bed built, right?

Good dirt is a terrible thing to waste, after all…

Monday, August 18, 2014

You ask a simple question…

Danger Mouse had a dentist appointment today, to get some fillings.

The husband made the mistake of sending me an email asking me how it had gone.

So, I told him how it had gone, as follows…and the moral of this story is, don’t ever ask me a simple question, as I am incapable of providing a simple – or short - answer

OMG. Well. Therein lies a tale. And it goes like this. I got to the school at 10:35 and I was walking over to the administration office like a boss, looking around at all the other adults milling around there like, "I understand.  I'm responsible now too.  Just look at my groceries. Plus also I am totally on top of these things, because I am very mature and responsible that way." (Sadly, I’m not entirely exaggerating…I was so darned proud of myself for not still being at home at 10:50 going, “Oh…@*^&@…is that the time?!” like I usually am…)

So I get her all signed out and the secretary calls her third period PE class and goes, “Yessss, so, I’m calling for…uh…Buhhhhhh…” and I hear this perky voice on the speakerphone go, “Oh, let me guess, Danger Mouse? Yes, she said she’d be leaving during this period, she’s sitting with her things over on the benches, I’ll go let her know.”

And now I’m looking around like, “Yeah, my kid? => totally on top of it. That’s right. She even told her teacher she would be leaving right about now. This is teamwork, people. This is what we should all aspire to as parents. I am the best parent in the history of parenting.(<= conveniently ignores the fact that laundry is still piled up all over the house, nobody has had a home-cooked dinner in approximately two years and that I have now officially lost more forms than I have successfully turned in over the course of their school careers.) 

Ten minutes later, I’m still standing there, clutching her pink excuse slip. The bell for the next period rings. Kids are milling around in vast numbers. No Danger Mouse. Where the heck IS she? I go back to the window and go, “Uh…?” and they say, rather pointedly, “She’s on her way.” Oooookayyyyyyy…I go back to waiting.

At 10:55 (!!) I called the dentist’s office and said “OMG WUT IDK WHERE MY CHILD IS BUT WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE !!!WAILING FACE!!!” And they said, “Well, just get here as fast as you can.” Then I went back over and banged my fist on the counter until the secretary decided I was annoying and checked on her current location. And she goes, “Oh. She went on to fourth period. I’m not sure why she would do that, since they did make a general announcement in PE…”

After I got done screaming and clawing at my face, I asked what that meant, ‘general announcement.’

And yeah, this meant exactly what I thought it meant: The person on the phone who told us about how she was sitting on the benches with all her things waiting to go and that she’d go let her know I was there to get her did not then, you know, walk over to her and say, “OK, kid, grab your stuff and split.”

No. She walked over to the PA system and went, “Murfle-purfle blissabloss? Pssssst tegere wah-wah sssstic...” over the craptastic speakers in the locker room, where a herd of chatting teenage girls were making themselves ready to rejoin society.

IMPORTANT NOTE: none of these chatting girls were Danger Mouse, because she, AS THIS SAME LADY HAD SAID WHEN WE CALLED, was sitting on the benches, waiting (im)patiently for her mother to arrive. Outside. Where the PA system isn’t. Not that anyone can ever understand anything said over the PA system anyway. But it is even less understandable when the announcement is being made, you know, where you AREN’T.

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: Banging your head repeatedly against the brick facing of the school is not advised. It causes not only a pounding headache, but the roughness of the brick tends to break the skin more than, say, a keyboard or a desk does. #ProTip.

So the secretary called into the fourth period classroom and about two minutes later here came Danger Mouse jogging across the quad – but by this time it was a good ten minutes after her appointment was supposed to start. I was already thinking, “Ehhhh, they’re totally going to tell us we have to reschedule, but, maybe, just maybe if they have a slow morning…!”

As we’re driving over, Danger Mouse informs me that she was more than a bit puzzled that I hadn’t shown up and almost went to the office between 3rd and 4th period just on general principle, but then reasoned that she should just keep doing what she was supposed to be doing and wait for instructions, which was of course the right thing to do, so I went, “Oh. Well. That was the right thing to do. Wish you had just gone to the office, though.” Which is sending her mixed messages which is the opposite of good parenting. But I figure at this point my cover is blown anyway so I might as well send mixed messages, belch loudly and blame it on the cat, maybe teach her how to light one cigarette with the end of another to save both time and matches, oh, and, how to identify the scaredy-cat kids so you can trick them into betting their lunch money on a game of mumblety-peg because they will pretty much ALWAYS chicken out before the first cast, thus giving you extra pocket change without any real danger to life or limb from the pocketknife-tossing thing. Brilliant.

We skidded into that office at 11:15 (<= which was pretty darned amazing time, actually, the Stoplight God was definitely with us) and of course they were all, “Yeahhhhhhh, we’re gonna have to reschedule, there isn’t enough time left.”

clip_image001

…siiiiiiiiiigh…soooo, September 5 it is…

Thursday, August 14, 2014

While I was busy pretending I am not insane

Two days ago, late in the afternoon, there was a knock on my door. I opened it up to find a pleasant man standing on my porch with a shirt that said “Windmill Septic” on it.

Over his shoulder loomed a very large truck.

With a very large porta-potty on it.

This was, briefly, a terrific shock to me. Why in the WORLD are they renting a porta-potty?! I thought to myself.

“They” being the crew who are going to be providing a wide variety of noise, dust, destruction, bills and construction that will ultimately lead to the addition of one new bedroom and a loft area upstairs, and one new home office downstairs.

It will be fantastic.

I keep telling myself this. Because otherwise, I will go completely mental, long before we get through this.

Then I realized that I was being rather stupid. Contrary to how it feels to me most of the time, I am not, in point of fact, “always” home. Asking some poor guy to just hold that thought for who knows how long while I’m in actually in the office, or running errands, or who knows what for who knows how long is a bit much.

“You having some construction done?” he asked.

You know how sometimes, you have these moments where you desperately want to say something that you know is probably not the nicest thing you could say right then…but oooooooooh, you’re just DYING to SAY it?

I was dying.

Dying.

I wanted to say, “Nope. We’re just looking to save on water, what with the drought and all. Family of six does a lot of flushing, ya know…here’s your sign…”

“Yes, yes we are,” I said instead.

Let the games begin!

“So, where do you want this?” he asked, gesturing at Tiny.

I turned and pointed to the construction site – in the backyard.

“That would probably be the most convenient for the guys, and least likely to become…ahem…a neighborhood ‘attraction’” I suggested.

“Yeahhhhhhhh, well, see, here’s the thing,” he countered, holding up his hands about three inches apart. “The hose on the service truck? Yeahhhhhh, it’s not really all that long…”

“Oh, that’s OK!” I replied, brightly. Because like HELL do I want this thing parked in FRONT of my house for THREE. MONTHS. “He can drive right on up on the lawn there, it’s dead anyway, you can see the construction crew is already driving on it…”

“Yeahhhhhhhh, well, see, here’s the other problem: He’s doing his route real early…I mean, real early…”

There was a bit more back and forth, but ultimately…

Bam. RIGHT in front. Helllloooooo, World.

{head-desk}

This is going to be…a really fun project.

I can just tell.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fifteen hours to find…

The last two days have gifted me with the happy knowledge that I made a really good call about, oh, eighteen years ago, when I briefly considered going into regular help desk support before going, “…nah…” and sticking with database-stuff.

Good move, Me.

Yeah, I spent the last two days (re)loading one or another program, rebooting my laptop, and watching it still not work. I have twiddled my thumbs while updates (re)ran. I have checked and unchecked boxes, then tried the same thing again, which amazingly…still didn’t work.

Not the fourth, fifth or sixth times. Well, darn.

It has been ever so much fun. Really.

Apparently, what happened was this: Windows was running an update. Meanwhile, the corporate antivirus was happily running its normal scans using a brand new set of definitions. These happened to contain the suggestion that certain Windows-based files were very bad indeed, and needed to be immediately quarantined for my protection.

Automatically, for my convenience.

What I actually saw was an antivirus screen whooshing past me saying “Cool I caught something don’t worry I got this k-thx-bye!”

I had just enough time to go, “…wut…?” before all hell broke loose. My laptop started telling me I couldn’t look at the email I was already looking at because the file was missing or I wasn’t authorized.

“…WUT…?”

Then it rather curtly told me it had to restart itself to finish an update and three minutes later – with no option for me to say “hang on just one darned minute…!” – it did so.

Thus sealing its own fate. Windows was thoroughly confused. It couldn’t find anything. It viewed the bank’s own internal domains as “untrusted sites.”

It was a hot mess.

I spent, kid you not, almost nine hours altogether between the two days on the phone with the help desk (and we don’t want to discuss how many hours tinkering with it on my own); I had a few moments where I wanted to just start banging the receiver on the desk while shrieking incoherently.

I mean, I know how it is: You have a checklist of fast and easy things that fix a good 85-90% of the problems people call in to the help desk. They’re fast and easy so you want to get them out of the way first – nobody wants to spend an hour on the phone with someone, only to have it end up being that their keyboard cord had wriggled itself out of the USB port.

The old “ha ha, I guess it wasn’t actually plugged in, ha ha” gag loses its shine pretty fast.

But at the same time, when you’ve been on the phone with five different people over two days time, when the fourth and fifth ones want to start alllllllllllll the way back at Step One, well, you’re kind of wanting to scream, “WILL you please look at the notes from the last {three, four} calls?! We already TRIED that. Like, EIGHT TIMES today alone!

“I understand your frustration, ma’am, but if you would please just bear with me and try rebooting real quick…”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” {throws laptop out nearest window}

Eventually, it occurred to me that in addition to “corrupt user profile,” the symptoms also sounded a bit like a file – or, folder? – being locked.

About three minutes later, I was logging into all the systems just fine: Somewhere in All That, something had flipped a bunch of internal folders to read only.

I know. I’m still a bit bemused by this. I cannot fathom why anything – even a Windows update which might conceivably want to put a lock or two on specific files – would end up making an entire folder read-only.

It defies all logic.

But that’s what it was.

Welcome to Tech, y’all. This is our glamorous life. Hour upon hour of frustrating, hair-rending, teeth-gnashing misery, followed by inexplicable solutions that magically work, a few high-fives amongst ourselves and being able to feel mighty clever for a few minutes…until the next insane, improbable, should not even BE a thing thing ambles out of the woodwork and stands there grinning at you. Go ahead. Figure out what I AM, and how to make me into a pretty little butterfly instead…

Fifteen hours to find…fifteen minutes to fix. Woooooo, who DOESN’T love computers, am I right?!?!