Thursday, October 29, 2015

After the Summit, there is the descent

After a bit of wrangling, my boss managed to get both of us out to Seattle for the week-long Data Nerd Disneyland SQL PASS Summit. He arrived late Tuesday afternoon for the ‘regular’ sessions Wednesday – Friday, and I got here Sunday so that I could also attend the full-day pre-conference sessions in Extreme Nerdiness on Monday and Tuesday.

Which were FANTASTIC. The speakers were excellent, and the information presented…well, usable. Immediately, directly usable on things that have been bugging me for a while now; and a lot of new information for me, which was tremendously exciting.

I’ll be honest, such things are becoming increasingly rare for me personally; when it comes to the basics of my job, anything that falls in the ‘expected knowledge’ for the DEVI – IV range, I not only already know it, I already know it rather thoroughly.

Put it this way: I actually ditched out of a ‘300-level’ seminar earlier today because honestly I was a bit bored (yeah-yeah-yeah, row vs. page compression, c’mon, I know all this…oh, but, clearly I am just about alone in that, because everybody else sure seems to have a lot of questions about it, ugh…maybe I’ll just check the Warcraft auction house app while they all talk amongst themselves for a bit here…) and getting very sleepy / restless, and also between you and me I fall more than a bit onto the “introvert” side of the personality scale so all this networking has been steadily draining me all week.

I mean, I’m a bit a-typical of the breed in that I actually like other people, and enjoy chatting with new people and getting to hear their stories and such – but I do still have that “one way valve” when it comes to interpersonal energy: Always flows out, never back in.

In fact, I often think that it is actually the fact that I do value and care about other people, and am interested in getting to know more of them, that causes the problem for me: I find it impossible to not be keenly aware of allllllll the people who are around me. I’m reading their expressions, tones of voice, body posture and so forth, and can’t seem to help but notice – and then feel obligated to do something about – even the slightest signs of stress or emotional turmoil.

It’s ridiculous and impossible and not technically “my” problem, but, no matter how carefully I try or how logically I explain to myself that I cannot possibly fix every stranger’s problems or help every mildly ticked off person have a better day, I just can’t seem to actually turn off that valve; the best I can manage is to force myself not to actually take action on the impulse, beyond the very small things like letting someone who seems to need a “win” right now go ahead of me in line.

But, you know – it’s OK. I’d rather care too much than not at all, and frankly I have managed to avoid or defuse situations that could have become very-very bad in a hurry precisely because that hyper-sensitivity to another person’s existence tipped me off that they were a walking time bomb of pent-up frustrations and/or sadness and/or rage, sooooooooooo, I wouldn’t really trade it for the sweet peace of typical obliviousness.

But I digress.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, so I’ve already started the process of packing things up to head back home.

It feels good. It’s been a great conference and I’ve had a fantastic time, but I’m definitely reaching the end of my leash in terms of being away from home.

I can handle 2-3 days just fine; 4 days I’m starting to miss the family pretty badly; 5 days and I find myself getting more and more irritable about minor inconveniences and such.

Much beyond that, and I’m probably going to be spending every waking minute grousing to myself about increasingly idiotic non-issues. Probably aloud to myself while scuttling around on city streets trying to find a fast meal that doesn’t give me indigestion or cost me $75.

For example, my internal diatribe this morning in re: the alarm clock in my hotel room, which went something like this:

Gah, I HATE this alarm clock! This snooze button is STUPID-SMALL, and who the hell designed this on/off switch? Damn thing must either need fingers like SAUSAGES or maybe a pair of TWEEZERS to use…also who makes an ALARM clock that goes ‘meep-meep-meep’ like a newborn chick with a sore throat? I’m a developer, dammit, I need something that sounds like a LIGHTHOUSE HORN before it’ll penetrate the ‘I was up until 2:30 in the morning trying to figure something out’ fog!

Yeahhhhh, that’s a pretty strong hint that I am getting a bit past my max-tolerance for not being home.

Still…Seattle is a cool city, even for a California delta-rat like Your Faithful Correspondent; it feels a lot like home for this San Francisco native, but also has its own unique vibe that prevents me from thinking for even a moment that I’m actually stomping around “my” city, or that the water I can see from my hotel window is “my” Bay.

The cities are more like siblings than twins, you know? Similar, but also very unique. Very walk-able, lots of interesting shops and unexpected splashes of color, and Puget Sound is a wonderful place to rest your eyes after a day of staring at computer screens and such. Watching the sun set over the water as ferries scurry to and fro carrying their precious cargo home is somehow a very satisfying way to spend an idle hour. Much more entertaining than whatever the television might have to offer, for sure.

I don’t think I could live here, given that I am solar-powered and prone to “inexplicable” bouts of vague “I dunno why, I’m just kinda blue” sensations when I’m not getting a fair amount of sunlight every day; but it’s definitely a place I could visit again and again without complaints.

And with that, I’m going to get back to packing up all my cords and cables, books and handouts, and other scattered possessions. See y’all back in California tomorrow…

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Keeping my eyes peeled

Soooooooo, it’s apple season and I’m cruising the recipe sites for ways to combine carbs and fats and sugars with apple chunks healthy nutritious snacks for the family, and I run across Chewy Caramel Apple Cookies and I’m reading through the recipe and I see in the ingredients the following:

  • 20 caramels, unwrapped

And I went, “…wait…”

And I read it again. Yeah. It actually specifies, unwrapped.

For a blissful moment, I snickered as I imagined someone taking twenty plastic-wrapped caramel candies, dropping them into a saucepan and stirring madly to melt them into a glaze.

“Nice cookies, but the glaze has a weird, I dunno, burnt-plastic-y finish…”

Then I suddenly realized: I would totally be that person. I mean, I would love to poke fun at my imaginary noob pastry chef and pretend that I was just far too clever a cook myself to ever do such a thing, but…


Not terribly long ago, I made this shrimp-rice thing for dinner. You know, one of those “fancy” recipes with the (relatively) expensive sweet sticky rice and Jasmine-hinted blah blah blah almost-a-risotto deals. I was all like, “Yeahhhhhh, that’s right, I could totally win one of those cooking-as-a-full-body-contact-sport deals, ka-POW!” and totally impressed with my own prowess and all…


…I realized I had made a teeny-tiny oversight in the preparation, which was because I thought the shrimp I bought were already peeled.

They were not.

For bonus points, I did not notice this until I was trying to plate up dinner. So there I was, trying to pick the shrimps out of the very hot and sticky I might add rice so I could attempt to peel them after cooking them.

Have you ever tried to do this? I thought not. It takes a special level of inattention to detail to end up in this kind of situation. And also a high pain tolerance, because hot-hot-hot-OW-dammit-hot-hot-HOT!

I have to wonder: If the recipe I was(n’t really) following had said, “1/2 pound whole shrimp, peeled” – would it have helped? Would it have triggered me to, you know, check, before tossing them into the pan?

I’m honestly not sure.

I just…really believed that the package I bought had said “peeled” on it, somewhere. With the kind of absolute faith usually reserved for the kind of people who would stand there with an actual-literal alien sludge-beast gnawing on their face going, “There is no such thing as alien sludge-beasts! Because they aren’t in the Bible! Ha! CHECKMATE!”

I checked. It totally did not say that. Not even under the big red “50% OFF” sticker.

And yes, I was that desperate for vindication around my unshakeable conviction that those were “supposed” to be pre-peeled shrimp.

I honestly have no idea what exactly goes on inside my own mind sometimes. “Gosh, maybe I had x-ray vision at the time and the ‘pre-peeled’ label was under this one!”? Really, Me?

The tiny sliver of consolation I have is that it did say “E-Z Peel” on the package, which is practically the same as pre-peeled except for the shrimp being TOTALLY NOT peeled at all, and I’m sure it would have been quite an E-Z job if they hadn’t been like red-hot little bundles of super-heated steel nestled in vast quantities of boiling-oil hot sticky sweet rice and finely diced vegetables at the time.

Sigh…well, at least they were deveined.

So, I had that going for me.

In related news, this morning I caught a bug in a system I have absolutely zero direct connection with because I happened to see an error go by in the log files I was checking for another reason altogether.

Over 200,000 records I was scanning with my eyeballs looking for one specific set of keywords => that error jumped out at me and I was all “whoa-whoa-whoa, what?” {scroll-scroll-scroll back up through the text file} “…huh…that’s…a weird one…” {typity-typity-typity} “…ooooooooh, uh-huh, I see what happened there…” {opens new email} “hey guys, you’ve got the framework set up to think Field57 is an INT, it’s actually a GUID, you should probably update that because yeahhhhh, you kinda got blown out of the water last night and got zero updates in your delta, only the inserts and deletes that don’t use that field in their comparison script, you’re welcome.”

This has got to be some kind of super-power. The “ability to simultaneously be a person who will see ‘operand clash’ go by in a blur of fast-scrolling through a log file while looking for ‘XML’ and/or ‘illegal’, and yet, turn right around and be a person who spends a good twenty-thirty minutes enthusiastically stirring a pot of shrimp and rice without noticing the shrimp still have shells and legs on them” power.

Probably one with a big fancy Latin-sounding name I won’t be able to spell.


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.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Troll level: Mom

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heh. Little man, I HAVE YOU NOW…

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

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

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


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

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

and now, we wait…


Wednesday, July 15, 2015


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

Friday, July 10, 2015

It all started with a lemon…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And hate every last nibble of it.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, we’ll see how it goes.

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

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

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

…rock on, you little lunatics, rock on…

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Don’t bother me, I’m…thinking…

Sometimes, I find myself wondering exactly when I lost my ever-loving mind.

Usually, these times coincide with days like today, when after nine hours of being "at work," I finally got off the phone for more than five minutes.

I have got to say: However “good” at it I may be, I really question my own intelligence whenever I remember that I volunteered for this ‘team lead’ gig.

Introvert By Nature + Voluntarily Becoming Centralized Hub For Inter- and Intra-Team Communication Needs = minus 10,000 intelligence points.

…if I was a spellcaster in Warcraft right now? I’d be getting kicked outta the raid.  (Warning: May not be safe for work, if work somewhere with easily offended people who get their nose out of joint over the word 'damn.' In which case, my condolences.)

"Ooooooh, don't worry, Boss, I'm not going anywhere NEAR that stuff...! Oh no! It's, it's, it's...EVERYWHERE, I can't get AWAY from it...!!!" <= me, every time I say, "ooooh, don't worry, Boss, I can TOTALLY handle taking over all the 'getting the users to explain what they want' stuff..." {five seconds later} " burns, it buuuuuurns...!!"


But, from the feedback I'm getting...I am pretty darned good at it. People are happier. People feel more included and involved, and are less and less reluctant to tell me about things that are going on (this can be a big problem when 99% of your development team are contractors - they aren't typically rewarded for speaking up when they see something that looks 'wrong,' but are rewarded for shutting up and doing as they were told by the Crazy them someone on the team who is extremely approachable and "safe" for Such Things does wonders for the team morale and final product).

And it takes at least a bit of the burden off my new boss, who recently got buried alive due to a rather abrupt change in team-ownership. Good times. 

But I gotta go recharge my batteries.

...maybe I could join my guild for a nice, quiet little raid or something...

{two hours later}

"DAMMIT, TAMA, YOU BIG...STUPID...!" "...sorrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyy..."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oh look, a squirrel!

Once Upon A Time, writing was incredibly easy for me. I would sit down at a keyboard and whip out stories almost as fast as others could later read them.

Lately (where ‘lately’ is pronounced ‘about the last year or so’), it has not been like that. It’s been more like, I sit down thinking, I am going to write about something.

…and then all hell breaks loose, pretty much everywhere, simultaneously, and instead I’m running around stomping out fires and such until suddenly I’m…well, not necessarily done dealing with all the mess, but done nonetheless.

It’s like I’ve run nose-first into an invisible wall, and I’m just…done now. Chair, meet arse. Arse, chair. You’re going to be the best of friends, for the rest of the evening…

And at this point in the day, opening up the word processor is just a rather cruel joke I play on myself; the cursor will sit there blinking at me, and maybe I’ll get a few words into it.

And then I’ll pause to read them and I’ll think, …where are you even GOING with this…wait…did you start DRINKING at some point, and I didn’t NOTICE…?!

The other problem is, the really major problem, is that there are some squirrels who moved into our yard. Specifically, a momma squirrel with three babies, who appear to have taken up residence under a wood pile just outside my new office.

Just about every time I even halfway glance out my closest window, my eye gets caught by their scampering antics.

And I look out the window a lot. You know how when you hit one of those moments when you’re not entirely sure what to say next, you go, “…um…”? Glancing out the window is how my brain goes, “…um…” because it’s not 100% sure what it wants to say next.

“…why is this code doing that…” => glances out window

“…how can I answer this email without actually calling anybody stupid…?” => glances out window

“…omg, are you seriously doing That Thing where you invite me to the meeting five minutes after it started again? do I even want to know what poop you’ve just stirred up that I’m going to have to live with?!” => stares moodily out window for a rather prolonged “moment”

There is, in point of fact, a momma squirrel attempting to eat a lemon, right immediately now, right outside my window. While one of her babies is being adorable over the the masonry on the greenhouse. Baby has found herself some seedy yum-yums, and they are delicious, and anybody who thinks that weed seeds are not the absolute best is just plain insane.

She thinks momma is insane. Weed seeds are da bomb.

Oh. Wait. Mommy has discovered that lemons suck. Or at least, that lemon does. To the lemon tree, to acquire a DIFFERENT lemon that will PROBABLY be tastier!! AWAYYYYYYYYYYY! {scurry-scurry, scamper-scramper}

I know they’re The Enemy, OK? I know. I know that I will need to get out there and go to war with them. And that I shouldn’t spend any time standing at my window going, “Squeeeeeeeeeeee!” when the little babies are crawling around out there finding seeds or playing on the wood pile or any of those other cute little baby squirrel things they keep doing.

And I definitely shouldn’t be amused by the stupid momma squirrel as she keeps pulling unripe fruit off trees in the vain hope that this one will be tasty-good.

Seriously, though – get a clue, varmint. If the last three were nasty, whyyyyyy do you keep believing that the next one will be delicious? They are lemons, dummy, they are NEVER going to be sweet and delicious treats…

OH. MY. GAHD, now one of the babies is trying the lemon. Hahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, *that’ll* curl your tail up, won’t it, kiddo…

Darn, I wish I could get pictures of this…now she’s sitting there like a tiny fluffy ball of disappointment, back turned to the reviled lemon, the very picture of but it smelled so tasty-good! sadness…but she’s in the shade, and if I try to get around to where I can get a picture of her, they’ll all be gone…WAIT. DAMMIT. I WANT THEM TO BE GONE. ARGH!!!

It’s like the way I got all anxious yesterday when this enormous crow was chasing one of the babies. Intellectually, I know that I should be rooting for him, you know? And the hawks, and the neighborhood cats, and the snakes, and anything else that looks at a squirrel and goes, “Mmmm, tasty!

But instead I’m more like, “Hey! Quit picking on that cute little furry critter, you big mean old thing!” Even though I’m usually rather fond of crows; I mean, they’re kind of scary birds and I wouldn’t want to run into one in a dark alley, but at the same time they’re wicked smart, and surprisingly fun to watch too. The things they don’t get up to…like figuring out how to drop walnuts into the road so that cars will crush them open for them. Darned brilliant, as long as they don’t drop them ON your car – at 50 miles an hour, RIGHT into the windshield…

In short, I am completely hopeless. I’m going to end up gardening purely to feed the damned squirrels, because I’ll keep thinking they’re too “cute” to kill or run off. This is why we can’t have nice things, Me.

But I digress. (I think. Do I? Wait, where was I even going with this? Did I spike my soda with whiskey again? Is there another me that does this whenever I’m not looking? because I’m starting to REALLY wonder about that…)

{watches squirrels for another few minutes}

{…argues with self about how amusing it would be to put a ‘squirrel proof’ feeder out there, somewhere “impossible” for them to get to, just to watch them get to it anyway…}

{…I know, right?! it would be endless hours of very low cost entertainment! and since most of the yard is scorched earth right now thanks to the drought, I could set up a kick-ass obstacle course for them out there! it’d be AWESOME!}

…and that is why, instead of writing an actual post, I have spent the entirety of my ‘free’ time this afternoon watching the squirrels and surfing Amazon for ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeders that are clearly not actually squirrel proof.

This is also why we can’t have nice things, Me…

Monday, April 13, 2015

Splinters: Two basics ways to handle

If you are a normal and/or intelligent person:

  1. Upon having a broom handle shave off a piece of itself the size of the Eiffel Tower into, say, the inside of the second knuckle on your index finger (let’s just say), let out a robust yell, possibly an expletive or two calmly alert those around you to the fact that you have just injured yourself
  2. Retire to the nearest washroom, preferably with entourage in tow ready to assist with Operation Safe Splinter Removal
  3. Wash injured area gently with soap and water
  4. Carefully have your duly appointed deputy attempt to extract the splinter with your choice of:
    1. Sanitized tweezers, and/or
    2. Sanitized needle, and/or
    3. Sticky tape, if you’re lucky enough not to have a sliver which is pretending to be a submarine on a top secret mission in the deepest ocean trench in the world, and/or  
    4. A ‘drawing’ poultice
      1. Baking soda is popular
      2. Warm water + Epsom salt soak is another that seems to work well for a lot of folks
  5. Upon ensuring you have gotten the beast outta there, apply:
    1. Antibacterial ointment
    2. Bandage
  6. Keep clean and dry
  7. In the unlikely event that an infection, swelling, redness, pus and/or an ungodly pain every time you even think about bending the damned finger kicks up, see your friendly neighborhood medical professional immediately

ALTERNATIVELY, if you are stupid and/or me:

  1. Upon having a broom handle shave off a piece of itself the size of the Eiffel Tower into, say, the inside of the second knuckle on your index finger (let’s just say), let out a slight hiss
    1. If anyone chances to overhear this and ask what you did, snarl, “NOTHING!” at them
    2. If they ask again, glare at them and mutter something unintelligible until they give up 
  2. Shift broom to uninjured hand, stealthily inspect injured finger while pretending to actually be inspecting tool 
  3. If you spy any part of the splinter above ground (so to speak), use teeth to yank out
    1. This is totally safe
    2. That’s why $DEITY gave us teeth in the first place
      1. Not really
        1. They’re for softening leather hides
        2. And also opening difficult packaging
    3. Plus saliva has antibacterial properties
      1. Also not really
  4. Put broom back in injured hand because dammit, this is how GROWNUPS deal with things – you don’t get a free pass just because you got a damned splinter, wuss!
    1. Plus if you don’t, others who happen to be nearby may realize you totally did too just hurt yourself somehow
    2. And if they know you at all, they’re going to be all, “LET ME SEE IT. RIGHT NOW.”
    3. Because just possibly they have been through this particular farce once or twice before and know how you are
  5. Finish task at hand
  6. Hang around for a few more minutes, just to prove you can
  7. Sneak into nearest bathroom, wash blood off hand and peer angrily at injury
    1. Really glare at it
    2. This will possibly terrify the splinter into ejecting itself from your finger
      1. Not really
        1. Not even theoretically possible
        2. Unless you have psychokinetic powers
          1. In which case, why in the world were you using your hands to operate the broom in the first place?
          2. Man, I would be doing that work while loafing in an easy chair just to show off
  8. Dig pair of tweezers out of the back of the junk drawer
  9. Dig clean-enough looking needle out of sewing kit
    1. If you can find the sewing kit
    2. Otherwise, check the junk drawer
    3. Possibly the storage shed? Gotta be one around here somewhere
  10. Sterilization is for losers. Just frickin’ get it DONE already.
    1. The clock is ticking, cowboy
    2. Any second now, somebody is going to come looking for you
    3. You are surrounded by professional narks
    4. They will so totally nark you out
  11. Grab exposed part of splinter with tweezers and neatly pluck it out of your skin
    1. Ow, OK, nope, that wasn’t the splinter, that was skin, @^*&@…!
    2. Repeat until exhausted
    3. Realize this isn’t working
  12. Pick up needle and start poking around where you think the sliver is until you’re absolutely sure you’ve got enough of it exposed that you can totally grab it with the tweezers now
  13. Repeat #11 and #12 a few times
  14. Get all of the splinter out
    1. Pretty much all of it, anyway
    2. Well. Most of it
    3. All of it that, you know, matters
    4. Because you’re just sick of gouging at yourself at this point, therefore, clearly, you’re done
  15. Spray with most gawd-awful stinging antibacterial spray you can find – the one that says, ‘Antibacterial and “analgesic” (lol) sprayon it
    1. Stuff seriously stings like a @^*&@
    2. Wonder quietly to self if the “analgesic” property is purely comparative
      1. As in, “Once the burning this stuff causes starts to finally wear off, you’ll feel so much better than you did while it was still cauterizing your wound!”
  16. Apply bandage
  17. Immediately go and do any or all of the following:
    1. Hand-water plants
      1. Bonus points if you use the dregs of last week’s greywater
    2. Wash the dishes without wearing gloves
    3. Turn compost pile
      1. Ratty gloves with holes large enough to pass a mouse through optional
    4. Take a shower
    5. Move furniture / unpack boxes that have been languishing around in dusty, dirty, appalling conditions for months and months
  18. The next morning, note that finger is…more sore and maybe starting to feel a leeeeetle bit…hot
    1. And hurts like a @*^&@ when you bend it
    2. And may be swelling, ever so slightly, right around where that splinter went in
      1. Or possibly developing a rather large…blister.
        1. Yeah. Let’s go with “blister”
        2. Because “boil” is such an ugly term
  19. A few hours later, acknowledge that possibly you may have maybe missed a tiny bit of the splinter 
    1. I mean, most of it you surely got, but, I guess there’s probably a teeny tiny bit left in there
    2. Or something
  20. Ignore pain, swelling, heat and signs of impending pus
    1. IN FACT, tell yourself that this is “good” – because actually, pus = nature’s lubricant
      1. That’s right! Whatever is left of that sliver is going to come shooting on out of there
      2. You know, probably, like, tomorrow-ish
      3. This is the natural way to handle this. You are a paragon of, uh, natural-ish living
        1. Very…zen or something
        2. You should totally eat a couple stale, bright blue Peeps to celebrate your earth-goddess stature
    2. Plus if that doesn’t work, well, your body will probably just break the thing down over time and problem solved
      1. Not really
      2. That is seriously a myth
      3. Your body is not going to ‘break down’ a slab of pressurized lumber any time soon
  21. Continue ignoring increasingly achy finger until it cannot be ignored anymore – probably this will be at roughly the 24-hour mark after initial splinter-acquisition
  22. Remove bandage
  23. Give inflamed area the stink-eye for at least five minutes
    1. Yup.
    2. That’s infected all right.
  24. Consult Google
    1. Have minor anxiety attack because Dr. Google is pretty sure that you’re going to die
      1. Because the splinter is heading straight for your heart, with laser-targeted accuracy
      2. Plus all of these symptoms? => could also be cancer
      3. Or Bavarian swamp-rat muck-tail disease
        1. …wait, what? Go home, Google, you’re drunk…!
    2. Realize that if you go to a doctor, they will do…doctor-stuff to you
      1. …go find reasonably clean looking needle…
  25. Putting on best bad-ass face, poke sore spot gingerly with needle 
    1. Pffft, sterilize, what the hell for?! it’s already infected and besides, you’re going to wash it with soap in a second, and then spray it with more of the stingy-antibacterial-lol-analgesic-my-arse stuff in, like, two seconds
    2. What-ever
      1. I’m tough
      2. It’s just a stupid little splinter
      3. I got this
    3. Plus, there’s no time, in about ten seconds somebody is going to get home from work and be all, “WHAT are you doing?! WHAT did you do THIS time? Lemme see that…!”
      1. And then they’re going to want to “help”
      2. Which makes too much sense, particularly seeing as how it is your dominant hand that you’re trying to work on
        1. With your off-hand
        2. The one that has trouble dealing with things like toothpaste tube caps, and therefore clearly is the hand for this job
      3. Anyway, time is of the essence and cannot be wasted on such trivialities as ‘sterilization’ or even ‘thinking this through’
      4. Seize the day, people
  26. Say a few bad words as ‘nature’s lubricant’ does its thing and the sliver does indeed come flying out of there
    1. Damn.
    2. That was huge.
    3. How did I miss THAT MUCH wood still in my finger?!
    4. Wow.
    5. I suck.
    6. Totally should have had the husband look at this thing yesterday
    7. …eh, whatever, it’s all good now…
  27. Set sliver aside so you can show spouse when they get home
    1. Because now that it’s out, ha ha, it’s too late for all that fussing and carrying on about nothing
      1. That’s right, you can now live another day without having to get over your intense and completely irrational fear of people in white jackets bearing needles and medicines you can’t pronounce and stuff
      2. Now, the thing has awesome gross-out factor and must be shared with the spouse – this is why he married you, after all, because you are FULL of gross examples of your own idiocy
        1. It’s one of my many charms
        2. Along with putting half of all our belongings onto the bed while ‘cleaning,’ and then ‘not getting around to’  finding them all new forever-homes before bedtime
  28. Immediately lose sliver when cat jumps onto table and swipes her tail right over the top of it
    1. Waste a few minutes looking for the sliver
      1. Realize it was only “huge” in the context of ‘a foreign object under your skin’ – it is actually almost microscopic
      2. You are never going to find it…particularly not on a splinter-colored fake-wood floor
      3. Seriously
      4. Just, stop already…
  29. Now that all danger of being helped is past, complain vigorously to everyone you meet about the whole thing
    1. Possibly you could even write a blog post to share with the whole entire Internet just what lengths you are willing to go to in order to avoid being sensible about minor injuries

(Yeah, I totally did “take care of” a splinter that way this weekend. And I totally did try to save the splinter so that I could be all, “OMG, check this out!” when the husband got home tonight – but Fleur immediately started walking around on my desk and swoosh! gone. Which was probably for the best, because on further reflection I very much doubt the husband has any interest in viewing splinters I was storing in my index finger for any length of time, and probably he’d just give me that look and be all, “blah blah blah you need to not do stupid things blah blah blah” and then I’d be all, “What-ever, some of us are self-reliant, dude!” and then he’d give me that look again and I mean, really, what’s the point of starting all that again? NONE, there is no point. So, you know – it’s probably good that it is now safely in the vacuum cleaner [well, of course I vacuumed in here, because you know what sucks even more than splinters in a finger? splinters in your foot] instead of being gleefully shown off as first planned.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Garden Report: April 12, 2015

Well – it’s going to be an interesting year. It has become very, VERY clear that our big drought out here in California is only digging in for the long-haul, not easing up.

So I’ve cut way, way back on my plans for this year; I have a feeling that just about anything I do plant now in these milder months I’ll just have to watch die later this summer, when we no longer have a drop of dew in the mornings, and the sun is mercilessly beating down on everything.

I’m not exactly giving up on the garden entirely – it’s more that I’m having to take a big step back and come back at it with a different perspective on things.

Basically, I have to be able to keep things alive using more greywater than fresh city water; I have to rework the way I plant and protect to be increasingly water-aware. And able to hand-water – I won’t be able to rely on the drip system to take care of it for me, I will need to have time every day to get out there and individually take care of every single one of them. Egads.

I’ll also have to make more and better use of greywater, and figure out just how much I can reasonably do on a lot less water than I’ve used in years past.

For the moment, I’m focusing on keeping the longer-term investment plants alive. The fruit trees, rhubarb and rosemary, the artichoke bushes and the blackberries. If I can at least keep those reasonably well-watered and alive for now, I’ll call that a win; if I have enough water left over, I’ll think about putting a couple of the beds back into use. I have a feeling it is possible, but I’m just not sure right now.

The only real news in the garden right now is both related and kind of sad – this big old tree is officially, and completely, dead.

We stopped watering the lawn last year because of the drought and local watering restrictions – but we’d thought the tree had deep enough roots to be tapping into the ground water. Nope. The water table has dropped so low over the last couple years that even a tree of this size couldn’t find enough water to sustain itself.

Farewell, old fellah. We appreciated all the shade you gave us during the long, hot days of summer. You’ll be missed.

(But we won’t miss the bird poop – yes, that’s what the white stuff on Homer is, the birds also love the tree and show their appreciation…copiously. Note the lack of street parking – not shown is the enthusiastic nature [or as some have put it, the black and petty souls] of the suburban answer to the meter maid, who love to start slapping pink and orange notices on your windshield if you park on the main thoroughfare up around that corner for more than, say, eighteen seconds. The birds, they have had us RIGHT where they want us, for LO these many years…)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Amazon: At the corner of ‘shut up and take my money’ and ‘lol, really?’

So, this is a thing: the Amazon Dash button, which you can stick on the wall next to your toilet paper dispenser and, when you find yourself running short, you hit the button and boom – more {specific brand you chose} TP is on the way.

It’s not an early April Fool’s gag.

It’s an actual thing.

And the ‘Amazon Fresh’ version of it is even scarier, because you can talk to it, like, say, “Apples” and the thing will add apples to your Amazon fresh order. Or scan the barcode from that empty box of Oreos that some treacherous blasphemer emptied when you weren’t looking – bang! Done. Fresh box of Oreos is a go, people.

I know, right?! Holy computerized enabling, Batman!

I feel as though I should be outraged. That I should be dragging out my soapbox and climbing up onto it to deliver a scathing sermon about the dangers and costs and blah blah blah…

…but instead, I swear, it’s like I want to just start screaming “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY!!!” while clicking wildly on the ‘invite me!’ button. Invite me, damn you – INVITE ME NOW! NOW! I NEED THIS, I NEEEEEEEEEED IIIIIIIIIIIT…!

Fortunately, the Amazon Fresh service isn’t available in my area. The single-product-button one doesn’t really trip much emotion inside me, but that Fresh one…yikes.

I can totally see myself sitting here at my desk all day long…and alllllllllll those times throughout the day when I’m working and my brain decides that right now, in the middle of all these work-crises, is the perfect time to go, “oh, hey, psssssssst! you needed {crackers, some specific cheese or other, eggs, milk, crème fraiche, etc. etc. etc.} for that thing you were going to do…”, I’d be grabbing that beautiful little enabler and barking, “Water crackers! Weird cheese, the kind with the little holes, not Swiss cheese, that other holey-cheese! Eggs! Crème fraiche…CREM. FRESH. No. Delete. CERRRRR-REM…FRAAAAAAAAA-ESH. DAMMIT. NO, NOT ‘DAIMLER’, DON’T YOU SEND ME A CAR, AMAZON!!…ooooooo…that…is…is that…a convertible?!…”

…and that would be how I ended up with a brand! new! car!!

(Boom. Next day shipping, y’all. They could probably just drop it into the same box they use for paper towels. I think it would actually fit.)

Anyway, for now, seeing as how the version of this dash-thing that I’m very much intrigued by is straight-up not available in my area, well…I have a free pass on having to actually use willpower to resist this siren’s call.

And, thanks to my geographically-challenged location, I probably have plenty of time to fashion tinfoil hats for myself to ward off the mind control that is clearly in play here.

Not that I will.

Because I remain intrigued by the concept, unsure whether it will be the trumpet fanfare ushering in a new era of copious free time and carefree living, or knells of the cracked bell ringing in our inevitable descent into dystopian doom, wherein our too-many belongings silently and wirelessly order the parts they need to assemble their armies and take us out.

Eh, could go either way, I suppose.

In either case, we do live in fascinating, changing, amazing times, don’t we?

Just TALK to this little token, and FOOD will be sent to your house.

What a world, what a terrifying, amazing, messed-up-but-with-potential-fast-tracks-for-improving world we are building for ourselves, with every passing day…