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.