Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The 2013 Curmudgeon Season has officially begun!

This has been floating around the Internet lately – and I think it sums up the season rather brilliantly:

2 kinds of people_d97660_4888782

I would definitely be that second one. To be honest, I’m beginning to wonder if my body somehow stores up all the Curmudgeon I possess throughout the year, and then releases it in one desperate purge triggered by the overly-early and enthusiastic start to Retailamas.

I mean, there it is…early-October…it is still 80-90 degrees outside…I’m sweating and just want to pick up some lousy thing or other I was just informed will cause World War III if it is not brought to some event or other tonight…and OHMYGAH, CHRISTMAS! JINGLE-FRICKIN-BELLS! GIVE! GIVE! GIVE TO EVERYONE! GIVE ALL THE THINGS TO ALL THE EVERYONES! If you don’t buy everyone the Things, you are a bad person! You can ONLY show gratitude and affection and prove you are NOT a soulless demon – possibly even a REPUBLICAN! - by BUYING CRAP. So, BUY THE CRAP! BUY ALL THE CRAP! 25% OFF! 50% OFF! DID I MENTION THAT YOU ARE AN IDIOT IF YOU DO NOT SNAG THIS BARGAIN?! YOU MUST BUY THE CRAP, BUY IT, I SAY!!!

Suddenly, I’m the kind of person who goes around snarling “WHAT’S SO DAMNED MERRY ABOUT IT?!” and “When the HELL did ANY of the assorted $DEITIES with fingers in the winter-solstice-ish time of year EVER say ‘go forth and buy cheap plastic crap, lest I smite thee for not being a Goode Persone©’?!”

And then there’s the way my fellow humans turn into crazed herd animals, flocking from one store to the next like starved wildebeest, stampeding and trampling everything in their path.

And taking all the parking spots.

Like, all of them.

And perversely, watching others do this, watching the commercials in which perfect domestic bliss is achieved by doting individuals presenting each other with perfect gifts (conveniently available at extreme discounts at your local StuffMart™ {annoying jingle here}), watching people at the mall in all the various stages of shopping – from giggling excitement to red-faced screaming at exhausted, sweaty clerks because they don’t have whatever-it-is in chartreuse, you don’t understand, my mother-in-law MUST have a CHARTREUSE thingee-mah-witchit, otherwise I am a BAD SON-OR-DAUGHTER-IN-LAW!…witnessing the increasing emotion and pace of the season in action…being jostled while I’m just trying to pick up a couple @^*&@ing gallons of milk, or having my ankles mauled by shopping carts piloted by semi-frantic yet astonishingly inattentive people desperately looking for this only blue and in a size that, or fending off 24/7 attacks on my psyche that are so unsubtly trying to instill that message that I must spend-spend-spend to celebrate…


It’s enough to cause me to seriously consider throwing three or four pieces of leftover Halloween candy nobody wanted into random boxes I dug out of the recycling pile, wrapping them in Sunday comics plucked out of the to-be-made-into-compost-or-worm-bedding-or-something bin, pitching them under the tree and calling it a season.

Dear Family:

I love you. Truly. I do. But. Screw this whole scene. If you need me, I will be locked in my bedroom wearing headphones and watching old cartoons and stuff, and also knitting things. WITH LOVE IN EVERY STITCH, DAMMIT.

See you in the spring.

XOXO  ~ Mom

What I find peculiarly ironic about this is…I actually do really enjoy the gift-giving. I like to make the people I care about happy, and I am thrilled when that perfect thing comes to me.

Especially because usually, frankly, it doesn’t. Or, it does, but is ludicrous in some way. Like, sure, I’d love to get the husband a vintage Camaro. It would be an awesome present! And also ridiculous! And a great way to show that I am a terrible steward of our income, and probably should never be trusted with it again!

Which then puts me into this spiral where I can’t seem to find a happy medium. And I bounce back and forth between various lame, not-as-good and equally-ridiculous things until I eventually end up buying him a box of raw almonds and a copy of the 1987 tax code at the very last possible second.

Because almonds are great. Especially the raw ones. Because they’re, you know, delicious…yet healthy! And buying him healthy food is like the ultimate in ‘I love you, see how much I love you? I don’t want you to die and junk like that!’ gifts!

And ‘tax code’ is all, like, um, INTELLIGENT-Y and some junk. And I think of him as an INTELLIGENT-Y person! See? See how that…works…? it wasn’t the very last thing on the shelves or anything, gosh no, I HAD A PLAN THERE…!


Last of the great romantics, especially when under pressure. <= me

The only thing I do really enjoy about the holiday season is stuff like this:

(I know! The cuteness! And this isn’t showing the whole story at all, which is that these two boys were collaborating with their games, and it was so adorable that pretty much the whole world just dropped over dead from it. That’s right. You are all ghosts now, because of the power of the Cuteness these two were putting out. Sorry.)

(This is actually more remarkable than it looks – Captain Adventure never allows another kid to sit that close to him, other than possibly a sister. But they don’t count, because they’re ‘safe’ people whereas pretty much every other kid in the whole world is terrifying and/or annoying and/or unpredictable and really on the whole let’s just not be around them, ‘mkay? But apparently, his cousin was an OK kinda guy.) 

BUT NEVER MIND ALL THAT. Because, knitting

This is Fia, which has been growing with painful slowness. In related news, I think I’ve decided that the next time I decide on a must-knit pattern, I should choose something in worsted weight, instead of fingering-for-pete’s-sake. Honestly. Sometimes I really do wonder what is wrong with me…but, I digress.

On BART, watching shows, a couple rows here, a couple rows there…it’s ever-so-slowly starting to look like a sweater-thing. And it is a fun knit, too – difficult enough to be interesting, not so difficult that I want to claw my own eyeballs out, or can’t work on it on the train.

The sleeves are actually already done…that was some interesting construction, actually, because they are knitted together, in the round, with steeks…I’m still not sure whether I like that method or not. I suppose I’ll know my own mind on that after I’ve finished the thing and seen how much effort was(n’t) saved by doing them that way.

I have a business trip coming up next week, all week, including a couple 5 hour flights there and back again, so I have high hopes for getting to the point where I will abandon it for months on end because ugh, finishing be able to proudly wear it give it to one of my daughters, because clearly I have still not gotten my arms around the concept that I am no longer quite as small as once I was.

Also, there will be no time for shopping. Or finding myself having to face the mall for any reason. And then it will be two weeks down, less than two weeks to go, y’all.

I may just survive the 2013 Curmudgeon season yet…

Monday, November 25, 2013

The word of the day is ‘random’

I am having an extremely random day today. One of those days where the overall team is on some kind of mission to hit me with as many things as possible simultaneously, so that both of my monitors are absolutely littered with instant message conversations, none of which have any bearing on any other.

Which of course is how one ends up replying, “NoNoNo, the second one!” to someone asking something like “how many tables are there in production today?”

Which is a tad confusing for the person receiving said message.

On the bright side, this sort of thing is pretty much the status quo for the team as a whole, so nobody is particularly surprised and/or offended that I’ve got multiple conversation going at any one time. And a tendency to fire off the reply to Convo #7 into Convo #3’s window. It’s a THING with us.

But, this general air of interposed subjects also extends well beyond the “inflicted upon me” realms and into my own thoughts; it’s the kind of day where even my own internal dialog is not safe from random interjections of an unrelated nature.

Like, “So, if we want to load this table from here and put it there, then we could definitely that whole bag of winter shirts is just plain GONE, I’ll bet someone accidentally put it out on the curb for pickup by the veteran’s group or something avoid cross-contamination between the application tier and the analysis tier and wait, what just happened there…?”

It’s making things a touch more challenging than is typical for me. Go figure.

I figured I just had to muscle through the work day, and then I’d be more or less safe, with only the interjected thoughts about missing bags of winter clothes, whether or not the “big” coffee maker’s filter had been emptied before it was put back in the hutch and like that. Because they would be the only thoughts I had to contend with, and all the work thoughts would just go ahead and put themselves on hold until tomorrow.


So right after I had shed the work-day and arrived safely home, Danger Mouse skittered sideways into my room, shouted something that sounded like “OHMYGAH YOUTUBE SEARCH ‘DOGE MEME’ COMIC SANS MUCH COLORING WOW!” at me, and ran out again.

Leaving me to ponder a) ??“doge”?? and b) wut?

So naturally, I went to YouTube and put in ‘doge’.

I was still puzzled.

Then I let the auto-fill finish to ‘doge meme.’

And then I was all, “Ohhhhhh, heh heh…Easter egg…but…why…what the heck is a doge, is that a breed or something? I still don’t…get it…”

So I Googled it. Many pages later, I was still confused. Because, wut?


a) I am old,

b) and also out of it,

c) I have neither a Reddit nor a Tumblr account, so naturally

c) I still don’t really get it, BUT ALL THAT ASIDE,

d) the winter clothes are definitely straight-up missing, like they were abducted by aliens or something,

e) so, I have precisely two (2) long-sleeved shirts to my name right now

f) the filters are fine, it’s just that you have to actually turn the heater on for it to do much

g) yes, I forgot that

h) and that other thing

i) dentistry sucks

j) I may now begin greeting people by saying, “What up, my doge?!”

k) which will naturally sound utterly ridiculous coming from me

l) and if I had a social standing, it would likely be ruined by it
m) I now have a better understanding of what the everlastin’ heck people are doing in Trade Chat on Warcraft, because “friendship, so much loving, wow” has been really perplexing me as it goes by

…sigh…I think I may go take a bath or something, before I hurt myself with all this randomness…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Keeping mum and WOW, that’s purple…

I feel as though it has been a loooooong time since I’ve posted anything. Possibly because it has been a long time; and an even longer time since I posted regular things.

It’s not that things are actually that boring; or even that they’re that busy. It’s more that most of the things that are going on around me that consume my attention and make me want to write posts right now fall into one of my self-imposed Forbidden Categories.

Such as…

…problems of friends and family, which are – and I hope you will forgive me for saying this – none of Da Internet’s business. (And frequently none of mine either. Not that this stops me from being a constant source of advice or from picking the situation apart from On High like I know something nobody else does about it, but, you know – that’s different.)


…me whining about Various Vicissitudes, about which little to nothing can be done in the near-term and which I will then proceed to be touchy about if – imagine the thought! – someone were to dare suggest potential courses of treatment. (I comfort myself with the thought that this proves I am still a girl. It’s NOT about the nail!!)

Then there’s also…

…too-specific things from work. Wherein Various Parties might recognize themselves and not think my words particularly kind, helpful or true. (And would undoubtedly be right, because I would be angry blogging while in grips of massive frustration and/or exhaustion.)

All it tied up with a My, But We DO Have A Case Of First World Problems™, don’t we?! ribbon.


Oh! But, there is this: So, Danger Mouse has been having some rough times in the getting decent grades department. And also, my little geek desperately wants to go to Comicon in March, right? (Yes, the one in Washington state. Not the one here in California. Because she wants to “fan girl” with her friends who live there. And I’d argue with her about it, but a) I wouldn’t win and b) says the woman who took a train all the way to Salt Lake City so she could fan-girl over a Harlot, for carp’s sake. He who liveth in a glass house…)

So I’ve been hearing about this Comicon thing for a fair while now. She doesn’t want anything for Christmas, her birthday, her next eighteen Christmas/birthdays, she just wants to go to Comicon.

With me. ONLY I will do. I must be the one to take her. Because I am the “cool” parent to bring to these sorts of things, since unlike that other parent, I know who Vic Mignogna is, and am more or less aware of at least some of the “good” currently-airing anime season, and can appreciate both the art in comics, and giggle like a fourteen year old at the fart jokes.

Plus, I tend to sort of fit in when we go to things like this. Only I’m, like, old and some junk? Which somehow apparently grants some kind of bonus status points for the kids I’m actually with, because apparently said kids are so cool that even old people will be brought into the light by it.

Or something.  

But I may be in a lot of trouble. Because while we were picking up the black hair rinse for Danger Mouse, we paused a moment at the more…flamboyant colors.

And somehow – I’m still not quite sure how exactly (although I believe it may have something to do with my completely unreasonable ban on hair dyes that are permanent/super-chemically/do-not-rinse-out-after-x-many-washes in nature)I sort of made a contract with the devil pact with her. If she can show me the A-grades by the time Comicon 2014 rolls around in March…I will not only take her, but bump her ‘has coolest parent on the floor’ status by applying this to my hair.

Not hers.

Mine. My 40-achoo! year old head? Lusty. Lavender.



Lusty Lavender.

{meditative pause}

That’s…going to be…I mean…I’m just envisioning…the first time I show up at the office after having applied this…

{another meditative pause}

…but shoot, in for a penny in for a pound…might be time to start shopping the steam punk and semi-goth stores on Etsy I sneak into from time to time like a married man surfing those sites, so I can pretend I might be the sort of woman who could and would pull that kind of ‘statement’ off…

(Note the “game face” on the kid. She’s not fooling around here. She wants my Boring Brown to be Lusty Lavender when we are Comicon-bound. Hoooooooooboy…)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stopping to pet the flower

I have a severe case of under-motivation today.

A large part of it is because I was supposed to be taking a vacation day today but then stuff-n-reasons later I’m not, but while I said ‘nah, no big, nothing I can’t do later’ at the time that I un-took the day, I’m secretly more than a wee bit vexed about the whole ‘I might as well save my PTO for actual time OFF because I know what’s going to happen here, y’all are going to be calling/paging/texting me with one stupid thing or another the entire time so, fine, I will simply reschedule it’ thing.

Particularly since the #1 reason I decided not to take it…was then removed as A Thing due to someone else quitting.


The next biggest reason is, I have absolutely nothing in my work-life right now that I am finding particularly interesting. I KNOW. MY LIFE IS SOOOOOOOOO HARD, DEAR GAH, WHATEVER SHALL I DO, ONE WHOLE MONTH WORTH OF DEPLOY CYCLE IN WHICH I DO NOT HAVE SOMETHING FAAAASCINATING TO WORK ON.

I keep telling myself to get over it, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, I’m getting more and more disgruntled about it. Probably because I know we have plenty to do in our overall queue that would be very interesting and/or exciting indeed…and yet…here I am.

Doing documentation. And, oh, let us not forget the thrilling item where I get to…insert a row into a mapping table.

Woo-frickin’-hoo, y’all.

Then there’s the fact that it is Halloween. And I haven’t gotten any of the decorations out, and it feels decidedly not Halloweenish around here right now. And I would have done all that today, but, please see rant re: not on PTO right now, above.

Which is a bit of a pattern, really. Milestones keep happening…birthdays…seasonal changes…anniversaries of various sorts…and I keep saying things like, well, OK, it is what it is here and there were Reasons and stuff…but for {next milestone}? I am SO going to have things more…TOGETHER…than this…

And then it doesn’t work out that way. Because, reasons.

So that’s another reason I’m just kind of meh about the whole concept of working on stuff I should be doing today.

But mostly? I blame Fleur.

Because, this.

Oh, I’m sorry, is my napping and not giving a @^*&@ about anything out of the corner of your eye for your ENTIRE workday BOTHERING you?? Gosh, well, no fears, I won’t go somewhere ELSE to be so relaxed, I’ll just stay RIGHT HERE so you can vicariously bask in the easy-going-ness of my life while you’re answering stupid questions about Things and doing Boring Stuff like a good little mindless minion. YOU’RE WELCOME.

She started regularly curling up in that chair last week, and has apparently decided that she really, really, REALLY likes that chair as a napping place throughout the day.

You know, saving up her energy so that she can run wildly through the house with her sister all night. Because she’s still a kitten, and just like human babies, depriving adult humans of their sleep is the prime directive for her.

So she comes in here, and she jumps up in that chair, and then she looks at me with something approaching interest…and yawns.

And curls up.

And sleeps.

And every so often, she sighs, stands up, stretches luxuriously, turns around, and looks at me again. And then falls back over in a kind of swoon.

Wow. Your life is REALLY boring, human. Really. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Think I’ll go back to sleep now.

It’s extremely distracting. Because she is so darned cute that I desperately want to stop everything else and just pet her (which would also annoy her no end because Schilling is our cuddle-bunny, while Fleur is more of a loner-chick).

And it’s annoying, because she’s parked right in the corner of my eye. I don’t even have to turn my head to see a sleeping cat.

And it makes me sleepy.

Which makes me feel even less motivated to do anything, other than write long rants about my cat being overly relaxed and pissing me off.

To which she sighs, stands up, stretches, winks at me, turns around and flops, smirking, back into Napdom.


That’s it. I’m so going to pet her now. And serves you right, too, Fleur Fatale, you WICKED temptress…!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The more things change…

So, wow. An anonymous tipster reminded me that it was ten years ago today that I wrote the last of a series of long-winded posts on The Motley Fool’s Living Below Your Means board. It was my way of giving back a little bit to a community that had seen me through some of the biggest, hardest changes I have faced so far in my life.

When I first started scouring those boards and articles for help I was still coming to terms with a lot of things; I was just sure I was doing pretty much everything wrong, financially.

I had no choice but to get better at it…but I was sure worried that I simply wasn’t capable of it.

I’m having trouble with the concept of it being ten years since I wrote those. It doesn’t feel like ten years. Or like it’s been fifteen since I decided to change course so dramatically.

But at the same time, it does in a way. Sometimes looking back feels like remembering a movie about somebody else’s life or something. Did I really do that? Did I really feel that? Really? Because…I just wouldn’t now. So it’s hard to fathom that I did, back then.

It’s almost surreal to go back and read those things again. Remembering those days – both the ones I was writing about, and the ones I was writing during.

A lot has changed. A lot is the same. There has been water, and it has gone under the bridge, and over it on occasion, and once or twice it has swept the thing clean away.

I’ve had to learn some new tricks; I’m still learning new tricks, actually. And the definition of what I want most continues to be a remarkably changeable thing.

But other things haven’t changed at all.

I still stubbornly believe that every single one of us has within ourselves the capacity to have, do and be anything that we want; that our biggest blockers don’t come from Outside Forces, but rather from our own lack of belief in our own power.

Further, I know for a fact that doing that I did back then – stop, think it through, plan, and then do what I’d dreamed up – was the best thing I ever did, for myself, for the family, for the ever-expanding network of people who rely on me to more or less have my stuff together on a day to day basis.

And that it still is. That whenever I remember to stop, and to step back from the situation and survey it from as much distance as I can manage at the time, and to do my best to trace through all the various paths and possibilities, pick out what I expect to be my best shot at getting out of the mess quickly and with the least damage done…I come out way ahead versus the times when I’m too busy running around with my hair on fire screaming that the sky is falling to notice that the door was standing wide open that whole time.

And that if I don’t also take that same pause on a regular basis, even when I think everything is going just swimmingly and there’s no reason to do so, I have a way of wandering way off my desired course; or of not realizing that it’s not actually going where I want it to go.

It can be a darned hard thing to do, taking that step back from a situation to consider it without actively reacting to it right immediately then; just walking away from it for a bit so that you can look at it without the wild swirling of emotion, the smoke of panic and choking gas of disappointment clouding your judgment. Your instinct says to just keep throwing energy at it. Just keep digging. Keep running. Keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing…if you stop, you’ll lose ground…!

But, lose ground to what? or on what? Where are you digging to, and is it even where you really want to go?!

How many of us are caught flatfooted by that question! We’re on the treadmill, running with all our might – but what do we hope to accomplish, what will be the signal that we have won this endless footrace? What is it you want to have? To do? To be? When you get to the end, when you break the ribbon…what does the trophy say on it?

“Congratulations, you ran really hard for a really long time and, uh, we all…admire that, we guess…”?

How much better it would be to know what all the huff and bother is for, huh? To be able to say “I really don’t want to do this right now, but, it is how I am going to get this glorious, shining thing, so, suddenly I’m not as bothered by this have-to thing I’m doing…”

I think the only difference in my feelings on the whole subject is an addendum, which would be…for gosh sakes…make sure “enjoy the journey” is on the list as well! Life is far too short and uncertain to have all your goals, all your “and then, I will be gloriously happy!” events in the distant future, and nothing but hard work and drudgery in the now.

Now is where life actually is; this, this right here, right now, this…is your life. Not in {20, 30, 50} years, when you’ve {retired, saved a million bucks, acquired a mansion and the servants to maintain it, etc}.

It’s here. It’s the meetings you have at work. It’s the commute. The bagel. The people you encounter as you go about your day. It’s the feeling of your favorite shirt when you put it on. Sunsets. Sunrises. Making your home a welcoming, comfortable place for yourself.

It’s in your laughter, your tears, your exhaustion, your exhilaration, you, ALL of you, you RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

Love yourself now, too. Be kind to yourself now. Don’t steal all the good things from yourself now, in the name of having something “better” much-much later. Honor yourself however you can, while you do yourself the even greater honor of believing that you can also have the bigger, shinier things.

I still totally believe you can.

And I’m still totally ready to clap at your parade when you do.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Cool read – The Revolution Of Every Day

On my ever-growing list of Stuff I Meant To Blog About But Put It Off Because I Was Tired is to tell you guys about Cari Luna’s new book, The Revolution of Every Day.

In the midnineties, New York’s Lower East Side contained a city within its shadows: a community of squatters who staked their claims on abandoned tenements and lived and worked within their own parameters, accountable to no one but each other. With gritty prose and vivid descriptions, Cari Luna’s debut novel, The Revolution of Every Day, imagines the lives of five squatters from that time. But almost more threatening than the city lawyers and the private developers trying to evict them are the rifts within their community. Amelia, taken in by Gerrit as a teen runaway seven years earlier, is now pregnant by his best friend, Steve. Anne, married to Steve, is questioning her commitment to the squatter lifestyle. Cat, a fading legend of the downtown scene and unwitting leader of one of the squats, succumbs to heroin. The misunderstandings and assumptions, the secrets and the dissolution of the hope that originally bound these five threaten to destroy their homes as surely as the city’s battering rams. The Revolution of Every Day shows readers a life that few people, including the New Yorkers who passed the squats every day, know about or understand.

I’d been looking forward to this one ever since I heard that it was to be published. I’ve enjoyed Cari’s writing since the long-ago days when her blog was called Dogs Steal Yarn, before her two children were even one Thumper. It feels very…warm, and real. She manages to avoid That Thing where the written word loses the human connection to the person issuing it; she keeps the inflection, the emotion, the weight.

I was not disappointed. Her characters fascinated me, and gave me a window into lives that are so unlike my own; passions I will likely never have, logic that feels alien to me, ideals that are at once completely counter to my own, and yet I feel sympathetic toward them.

It made me think. It stayed with me, and had me mulling over Things for quite a while after I’d finished the last page.

I like that in a book, and frankly not many give me that anymore. Thumbs way up, Cari – well done.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The List

The Denizens like to leave me lists of things they believe I should immediately rush out and buy for them.

Apparently not long ago, Boo Bug was listing “strawberries” as a needed item, and Eldest was going “tea! tea! tea! tea! tea!” until finally Boo wrote it in, with of course, the obligatorily snotty “happy?” after it.

To which Eldest replied…

Oh, and on the strawberries? We’re going to need to have a chat, because it wasn’t that long ago that I brought these home.

Yeahhhhhh, that was an all-day event to get those all processed and into the freezer. And then those kids went through them in about half of nothing FLAT, because, SMOOTHIES.

Meanwhile, the pureed peaches, nectarines and so forth (from the stuff in the boxes behind the boxes of strawberries)…is…well. Not exactly “untouched.” But there’s still SOME of it left!

…and I’m not quite emotionally prepared for dealing with another enormous amount of strawberries, is the thing…

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids On Sale in October

For the month of October, Tattler is running a 10% off sale for their reusable canning lids. Great opportunity to try them out if you’ve wanted to but shied away from the price: 2 dozen each of the wide and narrow mouth lids and gaskets are on sale for $35.16, down from the normal price of $43.95. And shipping is free, woo hoo.

If you haven’t wanted to try them because you’re saying to yourself, “I obviously did not read that correctly, because, reusable canning lids?!” – no, you read that right: Tattler makes reusable canning lids. I’ve been using them for, gosh, going on three years now for most of my canning…at this point, they’ve definitely paid for themselves.

Quick product review, what I like about them is:

  • I never find myself out of lids when I’ve got 300 pounds of rapidly-decaying tomatoes on my kitchen counter…and allllll the local stores have stopped carrying them in favor of Christmas ornaments
    • This has actually happened to me more times than I like to think about
    • Yeah, I can mail order…but that doesn’t help the tomatoes already rotting on my countertop…sigh
  • I’m protected from the occasional price-gouging that goes on in Such Times, when there is only one place that still has canning supplies, and they know it, so suddenly that little box of 12 throwaway lids is $6 or some crazy thing
  • After you’ve opened a home-canned jar of something, the same lid and gasket (<= the key selling point here!) make resealing that jar and sticking it in the fridge a bit less…leak-prone…thing to do than reusing the same one-use lid for the same purpose
    • At least it is around here, because the Denizens are infamous for rummaging through the fridge like starved boars on a forage, knocking things over and not righting them again
    • …don’t ask me how many times I’ve found a formerly-almost-full quart jar of some sauce or other lying on its side in a vast puddle of its own innards, quietly dripping all down the back/sides of the thing and making everything in there stick to the shelves as if Gorilla Glue had been applied to their bottoms…
  • I no longer have to suffer that twinge of guilt one suffers these days when one casually tosses something onto a landfill-bound pile
    • Which means that I no longer suffer the hot flash of anger that I’m made to feel guilty about something like that
      • Which further means I am spared the worry that perhaps I need counseling, because show me WHO is saying that you SHOULD feel guilty about this…methinks you are perhaps just a TOUCH defensive/paranoid on this count, my dear…
        • This increasingly-indented-cycle-of-psychosis actually goes on for quite a while, so, let’s just stop here, shall we? yes, do let’s… 
  • They are Zombpocalypse Compliant. Extremely important right there: We will still be able to can produce, even if WalMart is overrun by zombies.  
    • …sorry, couldn’t resist…

What sometimes irritates me about them:

  • They have a learning curve! You do things a bit differently when you use these, and at first? The seal-failure rate is dreadful – it gets better with practice, but y’all should know going in that you may have a session or two of redo ALL the jars before you get the hang of it
  • They have a higher seal failure rate than the ‘traditional’ throw-away versions – very careful handling / making sure you wipe the lips of the jar with vinegar etc. will get this to reasonable rates, but inattention to detail will be punished more severely with these reusable lids than their throwaway counterparts
  • They take up more storage space – the plastic lids are bigger / heavier-duty than the one-use ones
  • The gaskets loooooooove to get separated from the lids
    • This may be a Den of Chaos thing more than anything else – The Randomizer lives here and takes great delight in moving things to inappropriate spots on me
  • I hesitate to give away a jar of something to someone who doesn’t can or who might not return them to me, since they aren’t exactly cheap – kind of like the difference between giving out something in a take-n-toss container versus your good Tupperware, you know?
  • Oh yeah, almost forgot: The gaskets also make awesome cat toys, which means that if you have cats, they will be constantly pulling a Mission:Impossible on you to get at them (she said, picking one up off the floor under her desk, a-HEM…)
    • Samantha Schilling and Fleur Fatale are insisting this is in the wrong section and should be in the ‘pros’ one
    • But, as they lack typing skills, ha ha, I win

Thursday, October 03, 2013

How superstitions are born

I woke up this morning feeling as though Andre the Giant’s evil twin had spent the night stomping on my throat. My head was pounding, my back was screaming, my hip was on fire, my sinuses were trying to lay claim to parts of my head normally reserved for my brains…and I thought to myself, Gah damn it, EVERY TIME I go into the office, I get SICK!

Now, I happen to know that my going into the office yesterday has nothing to do with this cold/flu thing having finally swept my feet out from under me such that I landed on my arse with a resounding thud today.

The truth is, I’ve been fighting this off for over a week. I was doing really well until we had our deploy Friday night. I proceeded to stay up waaaaaaay too late, and then had to get up after only about three hours of shut-eye, and then had to stay up until after midnight that night, followed by having to get up altogether too early again on Sunday and then, of course, it was Monday and back-to-work-we-go.

So, the reason I’m taking it on the chin is undoubtedly because, abuse, that’s why.

And if I were to be completely honest, I was feeling pretty blech all day yesterday, too.

I just managed to convince myself that it wasn’t because I was sick, OH GOSH NO, it’s just These People™ are super-crazy-extra-jeebus-n-da-wee-widdle-fishes ANNOYING (<= which was another not so subtle hint that a smackdown was a-comin’: Little Things don’t ordinarily bother me as much as they were bothering me yesterday. I was two seconds from biting somebody’s head off, pretty much all day, usually over nothing.)

But all of that logical stuff is beside the point: EVERY TIME I go into the office, I get sick. THEREFORE, going to the office = getting sick.

This is how deep-rooted superstitions are born, people. Black cats crossing your path…walking under ladders…and going into the office to work.

Nothing good ever comes of any of those.


Friday, September 20, 2013


I appear to have crafted a Shawl of Cat Summoning +10. Because the instant I started fidgeting it around on the bed to Officially Block…


They have now given it a thorough inspection, and report the following:

  1. The edging has very nice chewability; springy, and with just the right amount of wool:detergent flavoring
  2. It is delightfully soft and warm, perfect for hooking with a claw or two and dragging over oneself for a quick nap
  3. When dragged along the floor, it makes for a truly rousing game of keep-away with a sibling or servant
  4. This also causes the servants to make very interesting noises – kind of high and squeaky, with a pleasing note of panic
  5. HOWEVER, it appears to cause the servants to behave inappropriately at times
    1. FOR EXAMPLE, scooping the Royal Personage off the coveted item
    2. While spitting coarse phrases such as “git yer scaly backside OFFA that!”
    3. And then dumping the Royal Personage onto the floor in a most ignoble and inconvenient fashion
    4. FEH!

Of course, inspections are exhausting…

…yes, so very, very exhausting…

(…sigh…this is how they get away with this crap…look at that sweet little face!!)

Monday, September 02, 2013

Well, THAT went quickly

With work being so darned insane of late, I have really been looking forward to this three day weekend. For almost a month now, I have doing variations on the theme There, There, You Have A 3-Day Weekend Coming Soon.

Imagine my horror to find myself already getting ready to head into the office tomorrow. Wait, I’m not done having a long weekend yet!!

It feels to me as though I didn’t actually have three days off.

Probably because I took Boo Bug shopping on Saturday. Which sounds like such a simple thing to do, doesn’t it? BUT, the reason I took her shopping was because she claimed – and actually seemed to be – completely out of things to wear. And also her shoes were just…wow.

Now, you’d think that taking a kid shopping would mean, you know “get in the car and go shopping.” Hardly the sort of activity that eats a whole entire day of your life. One would think. But having learned a thing or two from past experience, before we got anywhere near the car I sat her down and started a list.

What do you already have, I asked her, pen poised.


Ooooookay, how about this. How many pairs of jeans do you have?


All right, let’s back up just a little. What would you like to have? What kind of styles are you going for, here?


Oh for carp’s sake...

Pretty quick, I realized it would simply be faster to have her get all her clothes so we could go through them. She did this in approximately eight seconds.


So I went in there and started pulling things out from under the bed, from the desk drawers, the hamper, between the mattress and the bed slats, etc. etc.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the fastest route would be to simply pull everything out of that den of iniquity.

And then, of course, it’s in for a penny, in for a pound – so we ended up going through everything. There were toys in there from when she was six…and which haven’t seen the light of day since about that same time.

Then eventually, we actually went shopping. And there was buying of stuff. And carrying of stuff. And then suddenly my back went from “the usual irritating” to “Home. NOW.

So we went home. And I spent the rest of the day alternating between complaining the heat packs in the summer time were evil and how much I was sweating right now, and griping about how it just didn’t seem to be doing anything and whining about my heat pack not being hot enough and demanding that the nearest Denizen take it downstairs and give it another zap in the microwave.

And that was what happened to Saturday.

Sunday, I woke up feeling like someone had been beating on me. I had plans to do some stuff in the garden, but instead I did sitting down stuff. Which was all good, because the sitting down stuff was important too – and I keep putting it off in favor of not-sitting-down stuff on the theory that I can do the sitting down stuff any old time, whereas most of the moving around stuff needs either daylight or a certain amount of rested-ness.

And that was Sunday.

But I’m really not sure what happened to today. Today went by in a blur, as if one minute I was just getting out of bed and the next minute I was saying to myself, Oh. I’d better go to bed, huh…have to get up early tomorrow to go wor-HEY! WAITASECOND, WHAT HAPPENED TO MY ‘LONG’ WEEKEND?!?!

And now I feel disgruntled because it honestly feels like not only a “normal” weekend, but a normal-short one. One with too many chores and not enough goofing off.


But, I have to admit – it was a productive weekend, all things considered. The middle two kids now have a pretty clean, open room – with all the old junk out of there, it even seems a bit bigger. The gophers appear to have either given up, or gone deeper underground – no new mounds have appeared, and the only change I could find was what appeared to be an escape hatch on the far side of one of the beds.

Having already harvested the dried bean curtains in the bathroom, we are now on to growing some peas instead.

There are a few changes here. The peas are more vigorous climbers, so hopefully they’ll vine up further and more robustly. Also, these are new planters – they’re much deeper than the original ones, and have better drainage. And of course, these peas are meant to be harvested as they grow, rather than left on the vine to become dried peas – so the vines should keep growing for quite a while yet.

All of which the kittens really don’t care much about.

Peas? Eh, whatever. We prefer to pull all the leaves off of bell pepper plants and then drop them daintily into the bathtub, or perhaps poop in wide planters meant to be growing salads. Really like that last one. So don’t leave such a planter anywhere we can get to. By the way: We can jump almost as high as you are tall, sooooooo, good luck keeping it out of our reach. Mwahahahahaha.

Fleur Fatale (on the left here) recently discovered that she does not like Hot Tamale candies. This came as quite a shock to her, because she had been begging me for one for a long time before she finally got disgusted with my inability to follow simple instructions and simply snaked one for herself.

One chomp later, she was looking at me as if to say, You have GOT to be kidding me! I think…it just bit me BACK…!

Samantha Schilling, meanwhile, is starting to get some reddish brown spots in her coat. They’re hard to see from any distance, but she’s got an amazing combination of stripes and dots going; mostly she’s still like a grayscale copy of her sister, though. She is also proving to be the lovey-dove of the group. She loves to be pet (but not picked up, thank you all the same), and to curl up in or near laps. Or to have a sister get those awkward spots one has trouble grooming on one’s own.

(Yes. This is while the room purge was underway. The entire hallway was pretty much one very large pile of…well…crap.) (And yes, that chair has seen better days. It was my office chair until very recently – and I’d had it for approximately 27,000 years. I now have a newer one that has working wheels and is not wearing completely through on the seat. I feel VERY fancy right now.)

And with that, I need to get to bed, or I’m going to be in a world of hurt when my alarm goes off tomorrow. (Actually, I’m already going to be in a world of hurt. I have officially stayed up way too late for a work night. I need at least one more day of weekend here. Too bad the world doesn’t go according to my little needs, huh?!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Working with me has GOT to be surreal at times

I just had an IM conversation at work that went like this:

Coworker: Hey.

Me (about ten minutes later): Hola, ‘sup?

Coworker: You at lunch?

Me: Nope – just had to move a hose.

Coworker: ?

Me: Graywater hose. WFH today, doin’ laundry. :) (inside my head: la la la I’m just livin’ my life, I’m not thinking about how WEIRD this might sound to somebody else, la la la)

Coworker: moving hoses? don’t get it

Me: Well, TURNS OUT, we have gophers in our garden.

Me: So instead of putting the laundry water into the watering tanks for the garden this week, I’m draining it straight into their tunnels

{long pause}

Me: I figure the combination of FLOODING and SMELLS LIKE SOAP + HUMAN UNDERWEAR ought to make them think twice about settling in MY garden, you know? (erm, waitasecond…)

{long pause}

Me: At least, I HOPE it does…(ya, this is possibly a really damned odd thing to be telling a coworker…)

Coworker: That is…possibly…the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. In a work conversation, anyway. I think I almost choked on my tea.

Me: Oh. Sorry about that, man. They really should put “watch out for spit-takes around Tama” into our onboarding documentation. (inside voice: …oops…)

Coworker: Yes. Yes they should.  

{slight pause}

Coworker: Also, you should totally have your own reality show. :)

Me: You are not the first person to say this. XD (…whew, he’s got a solid sense of humor, I’m saved!…)

Coworker: That is not surprising to me. Anyway. QC # 5 for September release…

I think that is my favorite part: Note how he just sort of takes it in stride and goes on with his day.

Oh. I see.You were AFK for a few minutes because you were jamming a graywater hose down a new gopher tunnel so you could fill it up with laundry water in a (probably vain) attempt to encourage them to flee. Makes PERFECT sense, so, back to the matter at hand…

Yet another reason why I really just love the heck out of this team of mine…adaptability, my friends, adaptability…

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Finished, in so many ways

We did yard work today. I did not particularly feel like doing yard work today, but it really needed doing. Also I was a bit troubled by some little piles of dirt I’d begun seeing. Little piles of dirt that made no sense. They weren’t anthills. They weren’t children digging. I had this dreadful feeling that they were going to be due to burrowing rodents.

Right off this morning, I noticed that a patch of thriving kidney beans…was now a kidney bean plant. And a lot of empty spaces where formerly there had been kidney beans. With quite a few new odd little mounds of dirt. Suspicious…

So I poked around until I found the tunnels. And then I said a few very salty words about it.

The damned gophers have found my garden. Awesome.

So we agitated things out there to make it clear that this was a bad place, a VERY bad place, you don’t want to live here, because it is BAD, VERY, VERY BAD.

I do not like killing things I am not going to eat.

And I do draw the line at gophers. Gopher a-la CrockPot is simply not going to be on the menu any time soon. So I really hope the “kick up a fuss and make them feel really unsafe” method works, and we don’t have to escalate the warfare any further.

And then I did a lot more weeding and digging, and digging and weeding, and replacing of broken sprinkler-things, and cleaned up some areas that have needed it for a really long time.

Several hours later, I stood soaked with sweat and regarded the fruit of my labor.

And then I may have cussed a little bit, because I was done-with-a-capital-D-Done for the day, but could still see a two-sided, tightly written 8-1/2x11 sheet of paper’s worth of things I really ought to get done out here in front of me.

Which is always the way of it. The garden is something that is never “done.” There’s always something starting, and something finishing, and something that needs weeding, and something needing harvesting.

A big old never-ending circle of chores. (Ha. You thought I was going to say ‘life,’ didn’t you!)

MEANWHILE…you know That Thing that happens with knitting sometimes, where you knit and knit and knit, but never seem to get anywhere?

I was starting to think the shawl was going to be the last project I ever did. Because I was going to DIE before I finished it.

But, suddenly…I went around the last corner. And then I was running in ends. And then I did a fast-block with it (dampen and lightly stretch, but not the full pin-out) (because it is going to need an actual washing, and it is both too late at night to be starting All That, and I am too stiff and sore to be crawling around dealing with 6,000 pins at the moment thank you very much)

I think I’m going to like this one.

It isn’t so fancy that you feel like you should be dressing “up” to wear it, the colors are friendly enough to play nicely with a lot of other earth-tones…I can see actually wearing it on my way to work.

Even though I’m probably wearing brown denim pants.

And possibly Thundercats sneakers.

Just to give the, like, one or two people tops who would actually notice something to gossip about for the rest of the day.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I have just discovered my new favorite way to handle BART annoyances!

So, there’s this owl called the Northern White-Faced Owl. It has a defense mechanism that is just…well, awesome.

But, I don’t know how effective it is.

So I think I’m going to mimic its behavior on BART the next time I am approached by someone who clearly is going to be a pain. (Video plays rather LOUD and BEAT-Y music, rocker discretion is advised for those taking a little break at work…)

Imma gonna go practice in front of the mirror, like, RIGHT NOW…

Monday, August 19, 2013

What EVERYTHING is doing to my brain

It’s funny how you can instinctively know something, and yet dismiss that innate wisdom as being some combination of impractical or not particularly do-able because of {convoluted reasoning that in hindsight is not so rock solid as you initially believed}.

Or say to yourself, oh pooh, you’re all up in arms over something that probably isn’t even a THING.

And you’ll convince yourself of this for the longest time, until somebody does a study that convinces you otherwise. At which point you can proudly say, “I knew it!” and claim to have had this information since long before it was, you know, out there.

Humans. We’re an odd lot.

For a rather long time, I’ve been finding myself less and less able to cope with something that is a fairly inescapable part of my daily life, both at home and (increasingly) at work: Constant input from multiple sources. Noise. Car horns. Train announcements. Blaring music. Conversations shouted over the general noise. Phones ringing. Researching five things at once. Getting sidetracked down rabbit holes while trying to figure out why something did what it did, even though it really doesn’t matter because we’ll never know why, it was a thing that happened because of other things, none of which are there anymore – so it’s like trying to recreate the exact shape and hue of a rainbow from last week’s storm so that we can force it to always have that exact shape and hue. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, the guy next to you is watching Netflix on their phone without earbuds. Crying babies. Crying executives.

Kids hawking things on the sidewalk between the BART station and the office. Krispy Kremes, treat your coworkers, only $600 a box, IT’S A FUNDRAISER, DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT {cause du jour}?! We’re really trying to earn enough money to SAVE THE WORLD here…

Take a survey. Answer my email. I left a voice message. Instant messages. Instant messages asking if they can call you ‘real quick’ – which comes through as your phone is already starting to ring. Hey, pay attention to ME. Like, RIGHT NOW. Right now right now right now DROP EVERYTHING AND DEAL WITH ME AND MY STUFF, RIGHT NOW.

All day, all night.

The only tool I have to defend against it…is a set of headphones, through which I pump yet more noise and/or input into myself. Over the top of the Other Noise. Drowning it out with different noise, which (I tell myself) is better noise because it is as least noise of MY choosing.

I’ve been noticing lately that I have less and less resilience around it, too. As if when I get up in the morning, I haven’t recharged my batteries or repaired my armor – instead, I’m instantly just as exhausted, irritable and otherwise frustrated when the very first offense occurs as I was when I finally sloughed off the last of the one more things from the night before so I could crawl into bed.

And I’ve been plagued, day and night, with that vague feeling that I’ve forgotten something. That there is something looming over me. A check I didn’t deposit? A bill I didn’t pay? A form languishing at the bottom of a drawer somewhere? Left the milk out? Batteries?

And I was right. Over and over and over again, I’d run nose-first into a wall completely covered with a Technicolor mural of the thing I’d forgotten. The obvious thing, the thing I totally knew I had to do, or deal with, or move from here to there.

But somehow, forgot until that very moment. DAMN IT.

And I’ve been thinking to myself that the thing that is killing me is that complete inability to actually get some peace and @^*&@ing quiet; to get a little solitude, a break from the constant nattering and nagging, to have even fifteen minutes in a given day that wasn’t interrupted by somebody slamming against my door screaming that they neeeeeed something.

The constant flood of distractions, all of them claiming – vigorously – to be vital, important, super-urgent.

All of them wrong.

And then I learned that there is a book I need to read: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains. The focus, obviously, is on the Google-effect – or rather, the email => Google => Facebook => YouTube => Google => Facebook => FailBlog => email => Twitter => GoogleTwitterFacebookWikipediaGoogleGoogleGoogle effect.

Y’all know what I’m talking about, right?

And this little video puts into words exactly what I’d been sensing was happening to me – but couldn’t prove or put into words myself very well.

This is what I’m up against; now, can somebody like me, who is easily distracted to begin with and “eats” information like an out-of-control sugarholic at an all-you-can-eat cake stand, actually do something about it, even if they know what they need to do to help themselves not lose their ever-lovin’ minds any more than they already have?

I have no idea. But I think I’d better make a strong effort at it, or I’m afraid I really am going to lose what little brain I have left.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hot paws and annoying attitudes

Last week, I was rather suddenly made aware that I had a tiny wound on my right hand pinkie, near the top of my nail, right where you’d expect a hangnail to be if you had one.

I didn’t. I know this because I looked. Repeatedly. Because the way this invisible wound decided to get attention was to suddenly become infected.

And I mean, it was sudden-sudden. Like I had no knowledge that there was even a thing going on that morning, and then almost between one keystroke and the next on the keyboard the whole thing just…happened.

Except that clearly it didn’t, because wounds don’t get infected / hot swollen / gross that quickly. It had to have been simmering for a while without me noticing it before it suddenly erupted into flames got hot, started swelling, and exhibiting other signs of infected-wound status.

I tell you what: I learned that I type a lot harder than I thought I did, and also that I don’t strike the key squarely with the middle of the pad of that pinkie, but rather a bit on the right side of it.

Also, I can still cuss very inventively indeed, given the proper motivation. Such as the fact that poking at the sore finger caused it to – and who could possibly see this coming – really @^*&@ing hurt!

Which is a load off my mind, because I was a little afraid that I was mellowing with age or something on that front. @^*(&@!

I still have no idea what actually caused it; there’s a big scab now, but I happen to know that underneath that scab there is not an equally big wound. The scab is that size because the microscopic wound bled a great deal, and had a great deal of, um, uh, not-blood stuff as well, and that’s what has hardened into this scab, and probably if I wanted to scrub at it a bit I would find that the “real” scab was just as microscopic as the original wound. But, I am a big fat chicken wise enough not to go poking at something that has only just decided to do me the courtesy of starting to heal, so, the oversized scab will be staying put until it decides to fall off.

It is in times like these that I have to just kind of laugh at myself – I can be amazingly stubborn sometimes. The sensible thing might have been to stop doing things that hurt, but, no way.

I’ll just figure out how to type without using the pinkie. So there. I’ll knit a little slower while I figure out a different way to tension. Ha! Plus, it’s not really that bad, you just need to not keep focusing on it, that’s what you need to do.

It is also in times like these when I realize just how annoying I must be sometimes. I can’t help it: I always think things will work out, one way or another. And that meanwhile, the best thing we can do is to do our best, try to work around it or work it out, just DON’T LET IT WIN, WHATEVER IT IS.

Really, it’s a bit of a wonder that nobody has just up and smacked me for being that way when they were trying to feel properly grumpy about something.

And I’m not sure I could blame them if they did.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

When the Meh attacks

At this moment, I can think of several (dozen) things I really should go and do. And to each and every one of those things, I have the same response: Meh.
I think I’m even too tired to play Warcraft. I know, right?! I may just need medical intervention on this deal. Or at least maybe an afternoon early-evening cup of coffee.

The really sad thing is, I woke up this morning feeling ready to get out there and DO THIS THING! And for about the first third of the day, man, I was on fire. I was able to focus, and I was even able to multitask without completely losing focus on one or the other thing, and I was remembering things in a timely fashion, and I knocked out two relatively convoluted Solutions™ in short order and then I was actually contributing a little bit to our September development cycle planning meeting, and I was firing off emails and monitoring jobs (I’m primary on-call again this week…hip-hip-hoo-yeah-whatever) and communicating with partners and was just getting to where I was really entering into a major case of self-congratulations over my general awesomeness when it just…went away.
Next thing I know, I’m becoming aware that I’m basically just sitting there, staring at the same three lines of code like maybe they’re going to have changed themselves in the last ten minutes. I’m tired and droopy and clearly, I’m done for the day whether I’m ready to be or not.

And I haven’t even started thinking about any of the home-stuff I had hoped to get done today.


My normal response to things like this is generally to just push on anyway. But as this has not been working out for me particularly well lately, I’m trying out this new thing called listening to what your body is trying to tell you.

I don’t think I like it.

My body seems to be a lazy good-for-nothing lay-about loser. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, REALLY... it’s very important to tend to your own needs (she said with an air of wisdom, as if she always does so instead of doing insane things like putting in two or three consecutive days on less than four hours of sleep a night while subsisting on Ritz crackers and tea while at work because she is “too busy” to stop and get real food, ahem), and I am heartily in favor of doing so. Not only is it only fair to take care of oneself (aside: the word ‘oneself’ looks so wrong to me right now…like it is either misspelled or misused, but at the same time darned if I can put my finger on WHY), it is in the long run far better for your overall productivity if you make sure to maintain the old machinery before it collapses into rubble around you.

But at the same time, I have an unreasonable distaste of laziness. I’m like a Puritan sniffing out the sins of others when it comes to laziness, and in my own private little world things like murder may actually be justified depending on the circumstances, but laziness? Federal. Offense.

So I’m always suspicious of my true motivations when I start with the “wah-wah-wah, I’m tiiiiired, I need a breaaaaak, I just caaaaaaan’t keep going…” thing.

{sniff-sniff} I SMELL LAZINESS!!! Do we think the world owes us a living? Well, DO WE?!?! I didn’t THINK so, now, get OFF that derriere and get crackin’, missy! Daylight is BURNING!

And then if I don’t immediately jump to it, I get very stern indeed with myself and start parenting: “You have to do at least such-and-so much more before you can plant your backside in that chair and play Warcraft or watch anime or whatever.”

…and then I do that thing where whenever I’m not looking, I cheat the finish line back a smidge. Oh, did you hear fifty FEET? No-no-no, I said fifty YARDS…

And then I’m stunned when my body goes all toddler-temper-tantrum on me. Oooooo, the shock of BETRAYAL!

But, all that aside…I’m trying to accept the fact that maybe I am coming into a time of life where I am not twenty-something anymore. And that possibly, the 18-hour day thing is no longer a sustainable lifestyle for me. It sits like a hair shirt on me, but at the same time I figure that I should be able to accept at least some signs of time marching on.

Particularly considering that my mental age hasn’t progressed much since my teen years. And push come to shove, if I had to pick one or the other, ‘growing old’ versus ‘growing up’…yeah. I’d take growing old.

But let’s be clear: I have absolutely no intention, ever, of acting my age. Not gonna happen. So don’t ask. Nyah!! {sticks out tongue like proper brat}

In other news, I’m making headway on the shawl. I’m about to round the second corner of the knitted on border (note how I gloss over how well I did the first corner, which would be ‘eh, not the WORST job ever but also not the BEST one’), and then there’s “just” the long charge down the second long-side…and the third corner…aaaaaand the slog through the second short side…AAAAAAAAAND the binding-together-of-the-cast-on-edge, which sure enough I did VERY poorly so it WILL show a ‘seam’ when I go to finish it, I’m about 99% sure (but I comfort myself with the thought that when worn on a living, moving person, the chances that it will particularly show are slim to nil) (quiet, you! Let me have my little fantasies!).

I figure I should actually finish this thing sometime in the next six years.

If I don’t get distracted by new projects.

(Uh-oh. I sense a flaw in my overall plan here…)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Huge misses and tricky edges

Our last production release really didn’t go as smoothly as I might have liked. I feel as though I have spent the last month or so just…running, hell bent for election, trying to figure out how to handle the latest curve ball that was fired at me. From a cannon.

The keyword for this last cycle appears to be “miss.” When the requirements didn’t actually describe what was wanted? That was a miss.

When what was coded worked, but does it so slowly that it would almost be faster to do it by hand with a 10-key? That was a slight miss.

When half of the things in the release weren’t tested at all before they went to production because there simply wasn’t enough time to do the testing properly (and not enough appetite for saying ‘hold the phone, we better fail this out of this sprint and come back at it next month’)? That was a rather unfortunate miss.

When half of the SSIS packages weren’t deployed period due to a fascinating example of miscommunication? That was a huge miss.

And so on.

It’s funny how these sorts of words and phrases will appear in the business world. A couple years ago, the phrase “action the learnings” buzzed around for a while.

That one set my teeth on edge. Every time someone would say it, I would just cringe.

There’s “what is the ask on this” and “why don’t you reach out to so-and-so on that” and “does it family well with other things” and “let’s take this offline.”

But business is never content with the status quo, so, now our office is abuzz with miss. It’s a miss, it’s a small miss, it’s a huge miss.

And it now has legitimacy, because I’ve started a drinking game over it. Any time our project manager refers to something as a miss of any sort in a meeting, I must take a swig of whatever beverage I have at my desk right then.

(Unless it has mold in it. I get a ‘get out of swigging free’ pass if mold is involved.)

(That rule holds true for all drinking games. It’s universal. You may feel free to invoke it whenever you like. You’re welcome.)

Meanwhile in other news, after a ridiculously long period of no project at all, I suddenly took it into my head that I wanted to make something in the lace category.

Because there is something wrong with me.

Something very, very wrong with me.

So on the first of July, I cast on the center portion of Stripes and Torchon Lace from Victorian Lace Today.


Woo hoo! I said to myself after the first 2 repeats, when the pattern was settling into my muscle-memory and the center part was starting to grow pretty quickly. That’s right, lookit how FAST this thing is growing! I IZ A WIZZ-ARD 4 KNIT-TING!

…and then, well, I’d finished all the repeats for the center. And I was giving myself high-fives for being “almost done” and congratulating myself on how clever and also speedy a knitter I was, and other ways by which we invite the Imp of the Perverse into our lives.

And then I confidently launched into the knitted-on border.

And then I tore the first two repeats out and started over.

And then I tore them out again and started over.

And then I did two repeats of the stupid knitted-on chart without knitting them onto the stupid shawl-or-shrug-or-whatever-the-hell-you-call-the-stupid-thing-when-it-is-a-rectangle, to see if I could figure out why my stupid needles and stupid yarn couldn’t seem to count to {3, 5, 10, 17} reliably. Stupid things. (Because obviously, I do not have any such problem. It must be the tools causing it.)

And then I confidently knitted a repeat of the pattern onto the edge of the shawl again.

And then I wept.

And tore it out. Again.

And started over yet again, having identified my problem as being not one of counting stitches, but rather of having a bad habit of not always incrementing my row counter, because I thought I wasn’t getting up any time soon and was therefore “safe” to “just remember” that I was on row 17 now, not row 11.

{rubs temples}

I mean, honestly.

First of all, no, no I will NOT “just remember” which row I’m on. In point of fact, I can honestly and completely forget whether I was on row 11 or row 12 by the time I get to the end of that specific row. So if I set the knitting down for any reason – to answer the phone, look at an email, go to the restroom, any reason – it is 100% guaranteed that I will come back, look at the stitches on the needle, and say to myself, “…crap…”

And secondly, hahahahahaha, not getting up any time soon! I SLAY ME!!!

Yeah. Even the kittens have figured out that my lap is only acceptable if there are no other laps to choose from…because mine tends to vanish so suddenly, and at frequent intervals.


Having finally taken to heart the necessity of incrementing the counter, EVERY SINGLE TIME, suddenly I started making some headway.

I’m still having a bit of a wrestle with that edging, which has more rows in the chart, and for some reason both my brain and my muscle memory are refusing to “imprint” even one row of it (well, that’s not entirely true…the wrong side is basically a ‘work even,’ so, I’m nailing that side)…so I’m having to keep my nose right up against the pattern the whole time, which makes for slower, more tedious knitting.

But all the same, I’m starting to become very fond of it; I think it’ll be rather gorgeous when it’s finished. (Assuming I can handle the corners correctly. Let’s just say I also have some Known Issues when it comes to that whole “getting an edging to round the corner NEATLY and EVENLY and without becoming a lumpy-frumpy MESS.)

I feel even more good about it when I kind of stretch it out so that it starts to look at least kinda how it will look after it has been dunked-n-stretched for its final blocking.

(And use the flash on my cell phone. This is actually much closer to the actual color of the yarn, but still falls short of how it looks in real life. It’s Lisa Souza's Lace, in a colorway called “Mahogany.” It has the kind of subtle / not-subtle variegation that from afar looks “just brown,” but as you get closer you say to yourself, “Oh. It’s got highlights and stuff.” And then as you get closer still, you become aware of a delicious layering of colors, and there’s a bright, excitable copper that jumps up going “HI! I’M EXTREMELY CHEERFUL!” out of there that I love so dearly it is possibly unhealthy. The skein has been marinating in my stash for a few years now, so I’m extremely excited to finally have a project that went “click!” for it…although I’m also realizing that I can probably make, like, four of these from the one crazily-generous skein [well, three, at the very least], sooooooo, this won’t be my last adventure with it.)

And that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to all this long time between posts. Losing my mind at work due to misses large and small, and then “relaxing” by attempting to knit a border on a lace shawl-thing.

Tune in next week, when I might do something WILD and CRAZY, like having crackers and diet soda for dinner, film at 11!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Morning After The Deploy Before

Now, I know you all have long wondered what a typical deploy cycle looks like. Who are the players in these mysterious circles? What sorts of science create the magic of a (mostly) functioning web application? How do the various parties work together to create these glorious examples of intelligent application of information systems technology?
It pretty much goes down like this.
Our Players:
PrincessThis is Princess. She is usually some combination of business-type person, analyst-type-person, and project manager.
Ghost: This is $DEITY. Which you don’t really need to know ahead of time because $DEITY will tell you so every time he speaks. He is usually Princess’s boss (or her boss’s boss), and will occupy a fairly high rung on the food chain.
Punch: This is Coffee Cup Guy. He probably has a title like Database Developer V. Probably also had a new nameplate drilled for himself that says “Coffee Cup Guy: DEV V” on it within hours of the promotion. Tends to be dragged into things whenever Princess isn’t hearing what she wants to hear, agrees with her that whatever it is would be “very simple” to implement and then proceeds to actually do…nothing.
Rolling on the floor laughing: This is the new kid, Ms. QA. Wait. Ms. Analyst. Wait. She also does development work. Even though she has absolutely zero dev experience. But that’s ok, because Coffee Cup Guy will tell her is it very simple, point her at the first site he found on Google with at least some matching keywords and then claims he ‘taught her everything she knows.’ VERY enthusiastic, somewhat light on experience and commonsense.
Devil: Here we have Tech Lead. He might be a for-real manager, he might just be The Guy Formerly Known As Coffee Cup Guy, before he titled-out of the system and had to be promoted to a management position due to there being no ‘Developer VI’ in the HR book. Cool guy, but tends to not have time to get into the trenches with you.
Alien: And this is our developer. Or, as we like to call him for the story being told here, the only sane person in the whole @^*&@ing organization. (Note that who has this ‘only sane person’ title varies from story to story…sometimes it is the developer being a complete idiot, but for this particular vignette, he is our one sane crew member.)

The Morning After The Last Disaster Deploy:
Princess: OK, so, Developer, here are your tasks for this release. There are nine of them total, but I want to bring your attention to this item in particular as it is a Priority 1 task. I have attached the finalized requirements documentation for your review; I don’t think there are any surprises there, as we discussed this earlier. Keep in mind that as a priority 1 task, it is a must go, so, the whole thing must be 100% finished before 7/15. You sized it during our pre-sizing meeting last month at 15 hours, so this will not be a problem.
 Alien: Hmm. OK. Let’s see here. Oh yeah, I remember this one…land new data from blah blah blah…whoa-whoa-whoa, time out! Princess, what we discussed and I estimated 15 hours for was one (1) new package to load three (3) tables from one source. This item has twenty-seven (27!!!!) new tables from FIVE (5!!!!!) sources?!
Princess: Ahem. We discussed this. Oh. Wait. You weren’t invited to that meeting. Because you did not need to be. Plus I think you were trying to catch all those snakes somebody released in the server room…did we ever figure out who did that?! Anyway, don’t worry, we did adjust your sizing to account for the additional tables.
 Alien: Oh, I see, OK, well…heh heh…yeah, because, the last time you did this, heh-heh…
Princess: We’re not idiots, you know!
 Alien: Heh-heh, well, I wasn’t trying to imply…
Princess: So, you have 20 hours in the plan for this.
 Alien: …
Princess: What?
 Alien: …
Princess: WHAT?!
 Alien: That’s a big old negative, there, Princess. I’m gonna need more like 150 hours total. This is four brand new sources. I have to set up application user ids, get connections strings, update Oracle linkages, get data review and governance, build four additional packages, not to mention creating all the objects themselves…
Princess: Pffft. It’s cookie cutter. Once you’ve done the first one you can just copy/paste the others. 25 hours.
Punch: It really is very simple, you know. In my experience, Cntl+C and then Cntl+V will work for that.
Princess: Exactly. It is very simple so it really shouldn’t take that much longer. You’re being ridiculous.
 Alien: Uh-huh. Very simple. Copy/paste. Gotcha. Tell you what: How about you show me how simple it is, Princess…?
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Let’s keep the conversation constructive.
Alien: Sigh. 70 hours.
Princess: No.
 Alien: Do you want this to fail?
Princess: No. It cannot fail. It is a must go item.
 Alien: 70 hours.
Princess: No. I can give you 30. Plus Coffee Cup Guy.
Punch: No problem. Always glad to help the juniors out with stuff they don’t understand.
 Alien: …
Alien: 600 hours.
Princess: Fine. No Coffee Cup Guy, and I’ll give you 35 hours.
 Alien: 60.
Princess: 40
 Alien: 55
Princess: 45
 Alien: 55
Princess: No. You’re supposed to say 50.
 Alien: On this planet, we have an assortment of things called laws. There are the laws of time and also of space, and…
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Princess is right. You will have 45 hours. 
Alien: {thinks} @^*&@ you, $DEITY…
 Alien: {thinks harder} CAN YOU ALSO HEAR THI-
Devil: {texts} Time outta, bro.
Devil: {texts} Doughnut comment suey side on this.
Devil: {texts} Dammit. Don’t. Comment. Suicide. LOL. Autocorrect.
Devil: {texts} *commit
Devil: {texts} I got ur back. Will dizcus w/Big gay l8r.
Devil: {texts} Dammit.
Devil: {texts} Big Guy. LOL. Autocorrect!
Devil: {texts} agree w/Pins for now, will fix l8r, gtg letz bee done hair!
Devil: {texts} *here. Argh. Autocorrect.
Alien: {texts} OK, thanks. {says} OK, fine, 45 hours for initial rough-out, but my lead is going to circle back with you…
Devil: {texts} np, btw, am OOO for 6 wks lol but this 1st thing when back, kk?
Alien: {texts} WUT?! out of office, WTF man?!?!
Devil: {texts} in hq mtgs then PTO, sent email?
Alien: {texts} @^&@!!
Devil: {texts} all gud, I got this 4 u
Alien: So, actually, my lead is out, maybe we should revisit…
Princess: You said you were fine with 45 hours! It is carved in stone on these tablets! WE ALL HEARD YOU!
Ghost: I am $DEITY. It was spoken. It is now written. So it shall be. 45 shall be the counting of the hours. I am $DEITY.
Alien: …I hate my life…so much right now…oh well, maybe a miracle will happen…let’s just…moving on, where was I in this unending nightmare…blah blah blah tables blah blah blah schedules blah bla-…wait…you want to land all this garbage directly into…um…hang on…you realize that’s the application database, right? That’s our transactional tier, we can’t start landing large tables there, they have to drop into staging first and then…
Alien: Um, I really have to push back on this one, because see, if we do that, we will be using up resources that are needed for even super-basic functions within…
Princess: PUH-PUH-PUH! Just stop right there. Someone wants to say something to you about this!
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Do what Princess says. My orders. It is necessary.
Alien: …
Alien: …
Alien: Ooookayyyyy, this has Bad Idea written all over it, but, you’re the boss…lessee…you want to land etc. etc. etc…lemme just take a look at these source tables HOOOOOOOOOLY CRAP-APPLES OF DIVINE RETRIBUTION +10 OF THE GODS!!!!
Alien: {does bunch of calculations on scratch paper} {does them again} {pales} {re-reads requirements} {throws requirements across room} {picks requirements up again} {does more calculations} {picks up phone, has terse exchange with DBA team in re: storage space, buffer memory, transaction log size and so forth} {discusses what kind of idiot would decide this was a good idea with now equally irritable DBA} {rinses mouth out with soap} {returns to discussion}
Alien: OK. Um. Let’s…just take a quick sanity check here…what are you going to be using this data for again?
Princess: Stuff!
Alien: L’il more detail?
Princess: Lotsa stuff!
Alien: Not exactly what I need to know…maybe if I explain the problem…seeeeeeeee, it’s going to take, 5-6 hours to pull just this one 300+ column by 800 million row table, and, you’ve got eleven others just like it listed here. That you want pulled daily. Each table will eat up around 50 gig of storage space, plus of course using tables with that big a footprint in update statements is, just, wow…HOW ABOUT if we just pull over the eight or so columns we actually use, and only the source types we need…that’s 20 minutes start to finish and under 3 gig of data, which…
Princess: BLAH BLAH BLAH, just stop talking! SIIIIIIIIIIGH…look, I do not understand any of that mumbo-jumbo. And I don’t know what I need. Or might need someday. Just pull all of it. Besides! We might want to do analysis and some junk!
Alien: …
Alien: …you’re going to do “analysis”…directly on our application tier… which runs our web services…against tables that size…lemme guess, you’re going to be joining them to every other table in the tier?
Princess: Probably! We will need to see all the stuff!
Alien: …I am…it’s just…there are no words for this feeling…
Princess: Pffft! don’t worry! Coffee Cup Guy will handle that analysis portion!
Punch: SELECT * really is the fastest way to get all the information from a table, in my experience.
Princess: Tee-hee! Oh, Coffee Cup Guy, you’re so smart!
Punch: Yes. Yes I am. Note how my coffee cup says “#1 Developer” on it. Because it is true.
Alien: Uh-HUH. Well, I guess I’ll start working on the…
Princess: Oh. Real quick, just a couple little things…we kind of need it all done by Thursday afternoon at the latest. Because I hired a new QA person, well, actually, she’s more of a BA but she has super-crazy-MAD database skills!, and since she has no idea what’s going on pretty much at all yet, she’ll need the extra time for testing sooooooo we need it done-done super-early so she can test it while it is still in the development environment.
Alien: …I haven’t even started it yet, how can it be…?
Punch: An experienced developer would have known not to make that kind of rookie mistake…
Princess: Does this mean the task is red? It’s red, isn’t it? We’d better have a meeting about this! The task is clearly red if the data types are wrong!
Alien: THE DATA TYPES AREN’T WRONG! THERE ARE NO DATA TYPES YET! Geez. We haven’t even started the deploy cycle itself officially yet, so -
Alien: …
Alien: …
Alien: …Kill it. Kill it with fire
Princess: I do not appreciate your tone. If you had just done your coding right in the first place, you have nothing to fear from our new QA person.
Alien: I’M NOT AFRAID OF HER! She’s just…wrong. She can’t be looking at the tables and finding issues, because they do not exist yet. I don’t know what she is looking at, but, I’ll come in again!, whatever she just QA’d? Was not THESE tables!
Ghost: I am $DEITY. The QA person is right. Your code must be wrong. The item will be pulled if you do not fix it per QA’s findings.
Alien: With all due respect, on this one, QA is wrong. Among many other things…“pickle” is not a valid data type.
Ghost: I am $DEITY. You will crate a new custom datatype called “pickle” and assign it to those columns.
Punch: That’s why they pay him the big bucks, for sure!
Rolling on the floor laughing: JUST LIKE WOW ROFL!
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Have a benevolent smile! {beams}
Alien: I…work with insane people
Alien: …dear mother of god…
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Watch it.
Rolling on the floor laughing: I LIKE PICKLES!
Punch: I will now quote an extremely long beat poem regarding pickles…a-chem! Pickle…pickle…pickle-pickle-pickle…pickle on hamburger, pickle on rye…
Alien: I’m just…gonna go over here and…see if I can’t somehow get a hundred hours of work done in the next two days…
Princess: Is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet is it done yet
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet. I am $DEITY. Is it done yet.
Punch: …pickles on my eggs, pickles on my cheese…
Devil: RU thr bro? lol, bahamas r gr8, hope L iz gud tlk l8r!
Alien: Screw you, guys. Seriously. OK. These are done and will import daily. These five are too big to be pulled in daily. We don’t have enough disk space, plus it is causing some dangerous locking / blocking on the system in the test environment. Given the overall loads in production right now, trying to pull all of this in this way at that time of day might well crash the box. We need to rethink these and do them in a future release. 
Princess: Nooooooo, it is a MUST GO. ALL the tables must go!
Ghost: I am $DEITY. Make all the tables go.
Alien: Oy! Read my lips: Laws! Time! Space! Cannot be done. PERIOD.
Punch: It’s actually very simple, you know…
Alien: Cool. You do it.
Punch: Ohhhhhh, yeahhhhhhhhh, would love to take up the slack and get this done for you since you’re struggling with it, buuuuuuuuuut, I’m up to ‘here’ in pickle-related testing right now. Sorry.
Rolling on the floor laughing: HEY! HEY! HEY! I CAN DO IT! I CAN TOTALLY DO IT! I HAVE MAD SKILZ! WATCH!
Alien: Um, no, if you do that you’re going to lock down the whole app fo-
Punch: I’ll mentor her. She can totally handle it. It really is very simple. And mentoring is a major part of my job function. Developer V stuff.
Ghost: I am $DEITY. She will do this work. This is a must go item.
Alien: You’re going to break the…!
Princess: YAY! You’ve saved the day! Gosh, I guess you learned something today, huh, Developer?!
Punch: My pleasure, Princess. After all, I taught her everything she knows. Mentoring is a major part of my day-to-day.
Rolling on the floor laughing: I IZ A NATURAL TALENT ROFL!
Princess: It’s so great working with such smart, positive people! Everyone should try to be more like you guys! {significant glance at Developer}
Alien: {glances at code, winces, shakes head, closes program, sits back and waaaaaaits for it}
(Fast forward to the morning after go-live)
Ghost: I am $DEITY! Someone will fix this!
Punch: Ya, I told you guys this would happen…
Alien: No you didn’t. You recited poems about pickles and said it was very simple.
Alien: And that you taught Ms. QA everything she used to build the package that blew out the transaction logs, locked all the resources, corrupted half the tables and then threw the entire app tier into recovery mode.
Alien: At 2:15 in the morning.
Alien: Which was what time the REST of us got paged to come in and deal with it, by the way, just sayin’.
Ghost: I am $DEITY. You will take the database out of recovery mode immediately.
Alien: Can’t. That level of access is restricted to the DBA group. As I’m sure you recall, they don’t report to You, sir, they report to Herself. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from Her soon. Oh hey, is that your pager going off?
Ghost: …mother…of…Me…
Alien: Yeah, pretty much. Have fun with that, sir.
Ghost: …whimper…
Devil: Aaaaaaaaaand, I’m BACK! What’d I miss?!
Alien: Nothin’ much. The usual.
Devil: Hokay then! If you need me, I’ll be unavailable due to meetings!
Alien: Cool. Later man.
Princess: So. While we’re working on fixing the problems your bad code caused…
Alien: …wait, wut…?!
Alien: …the @^*&@?!?!?!
Punch: No worries, man. Everybody screws up big time now and then. Except me. I’ll clean up your mess for you. You’re welcome, bro.
Alien: Don’t touch it. Seriously. Look at my eyes: I will literally, with malice aforethought and quite thoroughly, kill you dead if you even open the package and look at it.
Punch: No, no, hey: it’s cool. I’m here for you buddy. Gotta mentor the juniors, kinda part of the gig for the #1 Developer. {points at cup}
Princess: …aaaaaaaanyway, I’m gonna need your sizing on these items for the next release…we don’t exactly have any requirements documentation just yet, but I think what we’re trying to accomplish is plenty clear without them, we just want to put the thing back in the other thing if a bunch of stuff is or isn’t a certain way. So! Now that you understand the whole vision there…whaddya think? Three hours? Four?
Alien: I quit. I mean it this time. I quit. Wait. You want to put what things in which place? Hang on, because, where are you going to get the…
Alien{becomes absorbed with interesting problem to solve, forgets is quitting, quotes time estimate based on phone conversation with Princess about project because never, EVER learns, like, EVER}
{go back to top and start over, because this is an infinite loop that repeats itself over and over and over and over and over and over and…}