Saturday, October 03, 2015

Could Only Happen To Me, #1744…

Soooooo…I have a confession to make: I haven’t really played my harp in literally years. I dust it whenever I notice it needs it, and usually tune it to itself at the same time (translation: it has been nowhere NEAR a ‘concert A’, tuning-wise, for a very long time); very occasionally, I’ll sit down and fumble through a mockery of something I used to be able to play with my eyes closed and my mind elsewhere, and that’s about it.

It’s a combination of time, and pain. I don’t have a whole lot of the former, especially not in the “have both time and energy” bucket; and unfortunately, things like playing the harp / piano / guitar fall into the grim category of Stuff That Tends To Set Off Flare-Ups on both my hip/back and my shoulder-nerve-damage.

Undaunted by the fact that this means that a) I cannot play actual music on it anymore due to lack of practice and b) told him in as many words “OH HELL NO!” when he first brought it up, the husband went and volunteered me to play at a wedding in a couple weeks.

In a couple weeks.

You can imagine how rattled I am.

Since I’m apparently not going to be allowed out of it, I moved the harp into my office and started using my lunch hour as practice sessions instead of what I usually use them for if/when I actually get a lunch break, which is doing little chores around the Den. (No. You can’t use our bathroom. Seriously, you will prefer to use the nearest truck stop, it will definitely be cleaner. And more likely to have toilet paper.)

The very first morning after my very first damage assessment practice session, I came downstairs to find that a string had snapped. A nice BIG bass string.

Oh, fantastic, just faaaaaaaantastic. {grumble-grumble-grumble}

So I replaced the broken string and began the tedious process of getting it through its initial stretching period; it takes a couple days of frequent tuning before a new string will have worked out all its “extra” stretch and starts holding its tune well again, and often the 2-3 strings on either side of it experience a milder but still annoying adjustment period as well.

Now, I told you all that so that I could tell you this story: SO THERE I WAS, sitting in a late afternoon meeting. I had been in back to back meetings for a good four hours already, and my primary headset – the one with the noise-filtering microphone – fits rather snugly on my ears. It’s great for an hour or two at a time, but when you wear it continually, especially when you also wear glasses, it becomes painful.

My ears were killing me.

So, I’d stopped using the headset and had switched to using my conference-call mode…something I can really only get away with when all the Denizens are out of the house and the cats are napping, because the microphone on that deal is the opposite of my headset for the ‘filtering’ thing and will pick up the sound of a cat sneezing from clear across the house. And somehow amplify it so that the sound of my voice two inches from it will be completely overwhelmed by the dumb cat’s allergy attack.

We were in the middle of some intense negotiations, wrangling about current release items and going over the stories for the next release. I’m right in the middle of explaining in my best Trust Me I Am A Professional voice that such-and-so can’t be done like this because of reasons and blah blah blah performance and etc. etc. etc. when suddenly…the C string right next to the B that broke earlier…snapped.

If you’ve never heard a thick bass string snap on a harp – it is not a particularly gentle event. And my office was set up to be well-insulated from exterior noise, which perversely makes it a rather live room, sound-wise.

The initial snapping of the string sounded like a gunshot. POW!

And this was immediately followed by a ghastly series of hisses, hums, and almost sizzling noises as the broken string flailed around on its way to eternal rest, striking other strings and the soundboard as it went. The entire harp was vibrating from the shock.

It’s the least harp-like sound a harp will ever make outside of something like being dropped from a moving vehicle, an unmistakable yowl of protest. A sweet, classy lady shrieking obscenities. Just. Plain. WRONG.

I jumped about five feet into the air and came down biting off curse words. I was startled on the way up, and already knew what it had to have been before my backside returned to my chair.

Sure enough, I look over and the C string right next to the new B had given way. Damn, should have known THAT was gonna happen…

My teammates, however, had no idea what that noise could possibly have been. It was just as loud and startling for them as it had been for me, and they were all talking at once, asking what had just exploded and was that a gun and was I alright and OMG WTH?!

So I explained what it was. But this is ME we’re talking about. So what I said was, “Oh. Yeah. Sorry about that, guys. Looks like my 29/C just went, nothing to worry about.”

Gosh, thanks, Tama, that makes everything clear, because obviously everybody there totally already knows that a) I play the harp, b) I currently have the harp in my office with me, c) by “29/C” I mean “string 29 of 36, the lowest-octave C”… {face-palm}

So there was a weird little silence while everybody tried to make what I had said make sense, during which I realized that I had just made no sense, sooooo, I tried to clarify.

While still being, you know, me. So instead as coming out in a sane and sensible way, it came out as a too-quickly-spoken babble similar to what I’d hear from a Denizen who was trying to explain why they got a lousy grade in something I know full well they are intelligent and skilled enough to ace.

With bonus All Statements Will Be Phrased As Questions phrasing.

“Oh, yeah, so, I play the harp? And I’m supposed to be playing for a wedding in a couple weeks? So I have it in the office, and, well, the 30/B? one of those big thick nylon-wrapped-nylon bass strings? broke the other day? So I replaced it? But sometimes? when one string breaks? and another one? is sort of thinking about breaking too? it will go ahead and break? because the tension gets all weird? So, yeah, that was the string next to the one that broke yesterday? Breaking?”

{more silence while everybody processes this, which causes me to get anxious so now I want to somehow make this completely OK…}

“But hey! At least it was still just a nylon string! When one of those metal core ones goes, man, now that is really an ugly noise! hahahahaha…hahaha…haha…ha…ahem…


I bring these things on myself.

If I could just be a normal person, if I could just have a normal person’s view of the world, or maintain a normal person’s sang froid about things, or even if I could just remember that so many of the things I do are not ‘Average American’ things and not toss them out in casual conversation when amongst Average Americans, these horribly awkward moments would not happen.

But I can’t, so they do, and I always seem to be having conversations with people that involve phrases like “I didn’t know that was even a thing” or “you…wait, you literally have a {harp, greywater hose, ‘curtain’ made of scarlet runner beans, etc.}, in your house?”

But at the same time, you know…I have to say…the people I work with right now are a true gift to me. They don’t just tolerate my Crazy, they embrace it. They almost celebrate it. They laugh with me, they accept my insane exuberance about everything from being able to make something run better in our application to having gotten a really awesome deal on eight bushels of apples from a neighboring gentleman farmer that made kick-ass applesauce.

They accept me, even when I’m charging around putting a weird, quirky spin on things that require them to readjust their thinking.

Without them, I would “merely” enjoy what I do all day long; they are what make it something I love, they are the reason I have so few days at work that are just kind of meh…they make the hard work we all do feel more like one extremely long play date with my besties.

Case In Point: Instead of just going, “Oh. Alllllllll righty then. Moving on…” – this group goes, “Oh. OK. Well. I think that what we’re going to need here is some validation…” – and that was how our meeting ended up going ten minutes over, so that I could replace that broken string and play them something.

You know, so that QA could sign off on my fix.


I love those crazy-accepting guys, and I hope our play date never ends.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, Monday

Monday always seems determined to shock my system.

The alarm goes off in the morning and I’m all like, Nooooooo, how did THAT get turned back on? It’s only SUNDAY!!…oh…wait…

Every other morning of the week, I spend the first 30-60 minutes on sifting through overnight emails, reviewing job dashboards and running diagnostic queries to make sure all is groovy with our applications, and researching anything weird that pops up from All That.

Mondays, though…geez. Sometimes it’s almost 10:00 (<= 4 to 4-1/2 hours after I’ve logged in) before I finally put All That to bed and get back to my current work tasks.

There’s always a Certain Pile of emails from people who insist on working over the weekend (95% of these will be “weird things” they saw because they were “validating” something while its process was still running, of course it looked “weird,” it was only half-baked when you were lookin’ at it) (but, you can never assume that, because there’s that other 5% of the time when it was actually something going horribly awry on us…ugh…!).

Plus, the applications had two whole days without my hairy eyeball resting sternly upon them, sooooo, they do have a tendency to get up to all kinds of mischief while I wasn’t looking.

And then, there’s the early release thing for the Denizens. Every Monday. Almost two hours earlier than every other day.

For me, it translates to a half-hour earlier log-out time from work…but somehow, it always feels like it is, like, four hours earlier. It always arrives the same way the morning alarm does, setting off a loud wail of, “Whaaaaaaat? But, it’s way too earllllllyyyyyyyy…!

Ironically, my coworkers do not share this sensation. There are about four of them who will faithfully ping me every Monday at 4:32 p.m. team-time to say, “Oy. aren’t you supposed to be picking somebody up at school right about now?”…usually quickly following up with “…like maybe your son?”

Smart alecks, the lot of them.

But then, they also got the picture I sent them once of Captain Adventure giving me an incredibly disgusted look as he climbed into the van because I was late, mom, LATE.

But even weirder is the way that somehow, bedtime also always seems to arrive well before I’m, you know, ready on Mondays. I still have things I meant to do. Posts to read. Things to order or research. And I always think it’s only, you know, maybe 8:00-ish, but actually, it’s 10:30 and I really need to be off to bed.

And then my phone goes off, shrilly informing me that it is time to wrap it up, woman, you don’t want to end up a zombie AGAIN tomorrow, right?

Whaaaaaaaat? no, it’s too early, it’s only…oh…crap, is that really the time…?!

Mondays, man.

They’re brutal.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The illusion of control

So I was looking at what to make for dinner (I’m thinking a honey-mustard-l’il-hint-of-curry chicken with garlic-roasted cauliflower at this point) (although I have to admit that the ‘cauliflower rice’ thing is really intriguing me) and was having a terrible time with it because omg EVERYTHING looks AWESOME! and then I realized I hadn’t really eaten much today and was arguably too hungry to be trying to pick a recipe because I was so distracted by the thought of, you know, food in general, and THEN I thought to myself, waitasecond – there’s still PIE in the fridge!

If there had been water under my sneakers, I would have been walking on it, I moved so fast. Pie-pie-pie-pie-mwahahaha, pi…you are @^*&@ing KIDDING me…

I mean, really now. Who does this? Who DOES this? That’s like drinking all the but last half tablespoon of soda and putting the 2-liter bottle back in the fridge. Or using all but about eight of the bow-tie pastas but putting the open bag back in the cupboard, loosely rolled up so that it looks like there is at least one more full serving available in it. Only even more evil, because, this is PIE we’re talking about here.

Right up there with putting a carton of ice cream that has, like, two scant teaspooons of frozen confection left in it. <= should come with a minimum eight year sentence somewhere very, very cold. And also ice-cream-less.


(Darn tootin’ I ate it. It was my civic duty at that point, and I am nothing if not keenly aware of my civic duties.)

(Danger Mouse made this one, and it was good. The future of pie is successfully being passed on to future generations, you’re welcome, y’all.)

Meanwhile in other news, not long ago Fleur Fatale decided that the place to be throughout the day was on a folded towel on my desk, immediately to the left of my keyboard. Curled up nice and snug in a little ball, sleeping away…occasionally rousing just enough to yawn, stretch, and nudge at me for exactly five pets.

No more, no less.

And pets, dammit, not tickles or skritches or thumps. Firm pets. But not too firm. What constitutes ‘too firm’ is subject to the discretion of the cat and may change from day to day / hour to hour, but usually means nice smooth, consistent strokes from whichever part of the cat is being thrust insistently under the human’s hand to the shoulder while looking directly at the cat and cooing appreciatively at her. No multitasking. No hindquarters. No belly. No legs.

Adhere to these rules, or I bite the crap out of you, human. Your overlord has spoken. See that you obey.

Also, let’s be clear: The towel must be on the left side, conveniently close to the keyboard but not too close because humans type too loud.

Not on the white craft table behind the human, which is too far away to allow for being a nuisance at will. And also not on the right side of the keyboard, because, reasons. CAT reasons, you’re not intelligent enough to understand, so let’s keep it simple. The. LEFT. Side.

Also, not a pillow, or a blanket, or any other form of cushion: A folded towel. Preferably a lighter colored one. Folded such that there are at least four layers, but no more than six. It should be just wide enough to accommodate a curled-up Fleur, but not wide enough to accommodate that tubby-arsed sister of hers, may she dwell forever in darkness and also some OTHER room because GAH, is she ever ANNOYING.

For example, this is mostly acceptable. (Note the empty phone case, conveniently located in case the urge to knock something off the table should strike. Good human slave. Gold star.) (Note also that you’d better not have a phone in there, because eventually, yeah, that thing is goin’ to the FLOOR, yo.)

(I am pushing my luck here: I’ve secretly got one edge of the towel tucked under a heavy book on the little ‘micro shelf’ you can’t see immediately under this part of the desk, so that it doesn’t slide wildly around when she first jumps up onto it. It is very undignified when one’s towel dumps one unceremoniously onto the floor whilst one is attempting to leap from a surface that is arguably just a wee bit too far away to make the bound gracefully, but when one refuses to accept a nice cat bed with a skid-resistant coating on its bottom, one may find that this happens from time to time.)

REMEMBER: Four to six layers of towel between Her Regal Self and the desk.

Any less and she will parade back and forth in front of the monitors knocking every loose thing she can lay a paw on off the desk until order is restored. “Fluff my towel, Minion! snap-snap!

Any more and she will paw and fluff at the towel until it commits suicide by throwing itself off the desk. “Too thick, Minion! Make with the happy, chop-chop!

On a related note, the little stick-on cable / pen holders* I applied to the top of my desk need to go. Not only do they prevent my pen from flying off the desk when she swipes at it irritably, but they themselves likewise do not budge when nudged.

Profoundly annoying, that.

Had to be hissed at last night, when the human slave inexplicably removed the towel for something called ‘washing.’ For, like, three whole hours. No towel. Three hours.


YA KNOW…sometimes, I suffer from the delusion that, you know, I am the mistress of this household. Hahahahahahaha, I know, right?!

Next I’m going to think I can pick out my own clothes in the morning, or take a shower when I want instead of having to wedge it in between Denizen demands, or…you know, never mind.

We all know how that is going to end…

(*They’re like this thingee. I’ve got one on each of the monitor stands, and one right next to my keyboard, where I am always setting the pen I’m using after scribbling a chicken-scratch onto my notepad. And then it promptly goes rolling under my keyboard, or off to one side or the other, and then when I try to grab it again I’m all where did it go?! Only, NOT. ANYMORE.

I love these stupid things. It was super easy for me to get into the habit of sliding it into that slot instead of just dropping it onto the desk, and after the first few times it loosened up to where it isn’t an effort to get it into these anymore. Small enough not to be annoying, straight-up impossible for the cats to knock over / bunt around, also work a treat for getting all those dangly-cords up so that I can’t get them wrapped around my feet and then spike my speakers or phone or whatever-all-else was attached to said cable to the floor when I get up…it’s like the ‘win’ never stops!

Except that I do suspect I’m going to end up having to replace the adhesive backing on the one I’m using for the pen all the time. Have a feeling I’m eventually going to jam my pen into it too hard one time too many and it’ll peel itself offa there. Because I am horribly forgetful about Such Things and will insist on jabbing it into place instead of gently placing it.

But I digress.)

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.


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.


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…}


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


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.









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.


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.


For now, our way of life is preserved.

For now.