Saturday, August 13, 2016

OMG, I still know how to knit!

We took a vacation-as-such in June for the first time in a lot of years; a whole entire week with the whole entire family (plus three friends) down in Los Angeles, going to theme parks, eating way too much food, and just partying as though the world were ending tomorrow.

Naturally, the first thing I said to myself when I realized that I wasn’t going to be up to my eyebrows in working / cooking / cleaning / paying-bills / etc. was OHmyGOSH…I should TOTALLY bring along a knitting project!

And it goes without saying that instead of a nice pair of socks (well, OK, in addition to), I settled on an enormous fingering-weight lace shawl with multiple individual patterns, because what says ‘relaxing activity’ more than THAT?

{beats head on desk}

{why, Me, whyyyyyy do you insist on doing that to yourself?!}

I cast it on in the hotel on a day that poor Boo Bug had to sit out the theme parks due to an upset stomach, didn’t get a whole lot done on the trip because duh, ya think?!, and then finally finished it Thursday night => got it blocking on the bed this morning.

It is so huge that it takes up literally 2/3rds of a king-sized bed, y’all. 100 inches long by 50 inches deep once I had it stretched out and pinned – I had to turn it diagonally on the bed to get the edges spread out correctly, because as I just learned this morning, the mattress is “only” 80 x 76 inches.

I had to get up on a step ladder to take a picture of it, and still couldn’t get the whole thing in the frame. Daaaaaaaaamn.

This is the Spirit of the Southwest shawl, and like all of the Evelyn Clark patterns I’ve done it was a delight to knit up. The lace patterns were tricky enough to be interesting, but not so tricky that I either never finished it, or spent more time cussing than knitting.

I used the #6 needles the pattern suggested, and a yummy skein of Lisa Souza’s Lace in the ‘Mahogany’ colorway that I had been taking out, petting, and tenderly tucking back into its air-tight storage bag for years and years – Ravelry informs me that I bought it at Stitches back 2010.

The shawl ate up a little over half of that jumbo-sized skein, so I still have plenty of yarn left to make a second, smaller shawl in the future. Woot!

{happy sigh}

I have to admit, things like knitting, reading and writing have been badly victimized by my shift from commuting every day to working from home full-time.

Other things have benefited, of course, and the benefits way outweigh the losses, but…well…that was four hours or more, every weekday, that were basically set aside for Such Things.

I couldn’t be paying bills, or washing the kitchen floor, or doing any home-related things while I was on a train, for carp’s sake – about all I could do that felt even remotely productive was read, knit, or write.

But, I’m starting to work my way back to having a bit more balance that way; it’s hard going because I am an idiot with a very poor grasp of the concept that I only have so much energy and physical stamina to put into whatever-all I’m doing all day long, and thus tend to hit the ground running and then just run and run and run until I slam face-first into an invisible wall of exhaustion every evening and end up just kind of existing until bedtime finally rolls around.

But, it is getting better…so hopefully, my poor neglected stash will start feeling loved again, and I’ll be able to enjoy this feeling of having done something cool with my “free” time instead of feeling guilty about “wasting” endless hours watching videos and otherwise farting around on the Internet in those hours between “done working” and “bedtime.”

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Logical reasoning is not always my forte

I like to think of myself as a mostly logical person, who makes decisions based more on math/science than emotion. That I am not easily suckered by things that are clearly trying to play on my feelings to trick me into paying way more than I need to for something that isn’t actually All That Special.

Then something comes along that laughs at that notion and points out that I am not as scientific as I want to believe I am.

Like, say, salt.

We’re not fancy people with highly-refined palates around here, so for most of the things that come out of our kitchen it honestly makes zero difference if you use Plain Old Mass-Produced or Super Fancy Hand-Harvested salt – nobody will turn their nose up at the plain-stuff, or even notice if you switch to the fancy-stuff.

So scientifically speaking, it’s a better deal for me to pick up my salt in 5 or 10 pound bags from Costco than to buy anything “fancy” for us.

Then this happened: A while ago, our weekly veggie delivery folks offered to add a little bag of smoked salt to our basket for an extra $7.

At first I was (predictably) all, “Pfffft, seriously? Smoked. Salt. For seven dollars. Just, wow. You know what? I have a smoker – I could totally make my own damned ‘smoked salt.’ Pffffffft. Whatever, guys.”

But at the same time, I was…intrigued. Just how much flavor would they actually be able to get into salt? What would it be like? Plus of course the smoker is really the husband’s domain, and neither of having any idea what ‘smoked salt’ is supposed to taste like, we’d probably do it all wrong and think we hated it…

So eventually my curiosity got the best of me, and I paid the extra seven bucks to add it to the weekly basket.

It was…amazing. I was smitten with this stuff. At first I just sprinkled it on steaks and such, but then in a moment of wild abandon – and knowing full well that it is meant to be used as a ‘finishing’ salt on things rather than as an ingredient – I used it in some mashed potatoes I was making. #Rebel

Oh. MY. Gahd.

So good. So good. The flavor was not so intense that it made the smashed spuds “weird” on their own, but intense enough that suddenly I had a side dish that didn’t end up as a bland, tasteless side dish for my BBQ roast.

Man, it was on after that. I started using it for all kinds of things. Rubs for meats. Broths for soups. Sprinkled on green beans. Mixed into a ‘basic’ vinaigrette salad dressing.

Pretty soon the little bag was empty, and I was all, “Oh well. It was fun while it lasted…” – but somehow, I found myself circling around the Jacobsen website looking for more of the stuff. Because it is like CRACK, y’all.

Man oh man. They have an awful lot of tempty things. Habanero infused salt. Truffle infused salt. And yes, the cherrywood-smoked salt.

But the tempty nature of their goods wasn’t what got me to take out my credit card and place an order.

What did was watching a couple of their videos about how they go about making their salts.

Dear Scientific Reasoning: You lose.



I am a class A-1 sucker for things like this. You show me a guy using a hand tool to scrape the newly-formed salt out of the evaporation bed into a bin to finish drying, and I am hooked. Same thing with candies, if I’m watching somebody laboriously hand-fold the taffy, I’m immediately shoving money at them.

And also making myself sick by shoveling the taffy into my face as fast as I can.

Scientifically speaking, I know that “table salt” is just NaCl – sodium-chloride. Whether it comes from the sea or a mine, whether it is generated by the ounce or the ton, it’s still the same basic chemical compound – what makes one salt taste different from another is actually “impurities,” trace minerals that are hitching a ride with the basic NaCl combination.

So by and large, whether you harvest it by hand from the Pacific Ocean or use an enormous machinated set of pumps and pipes to mine it up from underground deposits, if what you’re making is “plain white salt,” it’s going to be scientifically the same.

And I also know that I could totally make my own “infused” salts. C’mon. Have you MET me? Have you SEEN my pantry, with row after row of Mason jars full of homemade flavored vinegars, vanillas and so forth?!

But emotionally, I am completely enthralled by someplace like Jacobsen, a tiny little company only five years old that goes about getting salt from the Pacific Ocean basically exactly like I did back when I lived a lot closer to it…and had a lot more free time on my hands.

It gets me because I really enjoy that kind of work. Few things are more pleasurable than the feeling of doing something like that for yourself – sure, it’s hard work that nobody seems willing to do anymore, but to me it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

It’s physical. It’s primal. It makes you feel grounded somehow, and super competent at this whole living thing. It makes me feel as though the modern age doesn’t really own me – that I am a part of the same earth my ancestors walked.

And in these days when you look at something in the grocery store and have no idea where it came from, or what’s really in it, being able to say I am 100% certain there is NOTHING SCARY in that, because I made it with these hands is a surprisingly deep comfort.

Everything else may be going to hell, but at least I know that THIS MARINADE was made with 100% Real Things…therefore obviously, EVERYTHING is going to be ooooookayyyy…

Somehow, the idea of my salt being made that slow, labor-intensive way makes me…happy.

Not quite as happy as it would make me to do it my damned self, but, close.

Which makes the higher price tag worth it, even though scientifically speaking, that’s absolute nonsense.

Oh well – I guess it just proves that I’m still, you know, human. That there are things I value more than math, or money…that I’m not in too much danger of becoming a heartless, soulless machine who always does the best-for-my-bottom-line thing even if it isn’t the best thing for the emotional well-being of myself and others.

So I guess I’m OK with my occasional outbursts of irrational, unscientific decision making.



Soooooooooooo…if Jacobsen could just get that comparatively-insanely-expensive jar of cherrywood-smoked salt here, like, now-ish, that’d be greaaaaaaaaaat…

(Seriously. It is like crack. But, you know, in a good way.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father’s day, and EVERY day

It seems a bit unfair that these kinds of things only get posted once a year, because being an awesome dad is definitely one of those “every single day in every single way” kinds of things.

But at the same time, I suppose it would get a bit tiresome if I went on and on and on about how awesome a father the husband is all the time.

Because he is an awesome father, every day.

There’s all the usual “good father” stuff: When they were small, he would sing them awake in the morning with silly songs he made up on the fly; he would settle them down for the night with stories made up from words they would toss out to him.

And he faced even the nastiest of diapers with unflinching strength.

And we used CLOTH diapers for quite a while, gang. <= +500 Amazing Points for dealing with that added Nasty Factor.

He takes them for haircuts and dentist appointments.

He watches really lame movies with them.

Runs them to the mall when they want to meet up with friends and Mom is all, “Nope, no way, huh-uh, I have so damned much to do today plus you have no idea how tired I am because blah-blah-blah-40-minutes-of-whiny-lecturing…”

But that’s just, you know, the everyday-life stuff.

There’s so much more, the things that they don’t even realize he does for them…yet. But someday, they’re going to look back and realize just how much he did for them, and they’re going to realize just how much of their self-confidence and self-love come from these things.

Things like holding them accountable for their grades and behavior not in the “because it is all about me, and I don’t like it” way, but in the “because you are smart and capable, so, don’t act like you aren’t” way that reinforces the message that above all else, he believes in them.

Telling them they can too do or be something when they felt like they couldn’t.

Listening to them and giving them both his council, and his permission to disagree – so they never had to be afraid to tell him what they really-truly believe, or how they felt about something…because they instinctively knew that even if he didn’t agree with them, they wouldn’t lose his love and support.

He showed them what a good man – a good person – looks like. Loyal to his friends and family. Incredibly honest. Strong in all the right ways. Protecting and providing for his family without demanding constant worship for it.

He has taught them that being loving and respectful toward his wife does not mean trading in his man-card and becoming some kind of emasculated, subservient creature. That having an equal partnership can work, and work well.

And that no matter what they might see on TV or hear from their friends, it is not “just the way men are” for them to raise either their voice or their hand to their family, even when they are really upset about something.

I wish every kid could have a guy like him for their father; I truly believe the world would become a much better place if they could.

Happy Father’s day, honey. You really are a kick-ass dad, and the best husband a wife could have.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Apparently, delivery people do not appreciate porch snakes

I think…Sir Geoffrey of Doughnut has given up.

Oh. That’s our gopher snake.

Yes. We named the snake. Because for a while there, he was hanging out on the porch rather frequently, and eventually it started feeling rather rude to keep calling him, “AHHHHHH!!!!!!!” or “Git, dammit” and such.

So I started calling him Geoffrey and the kids a) wanted to call him Doughnut and b) felt that a name like ‘Geoffrey-with-a-G’ required some kind of knightly title, soooooooo, we compromised.


He hasn’t been out on the porch for quite some time now.

Probably because of the delivery lady.

SEE…a couple weeks ago, I was sitting here at my desk wrapping up my work day when suddenly…I heard this positively bloodcurdling scream that sounded like it could have been coming from inside the house.

Needless to say my curiosity was piqued.

So I jumped to my feet, ran to the front door and threw it open.

There’s the big old truck, and a lady huddled on the far side of it screeching and hollering and pointing, and I looked where she was pointing and there’s Sir Geoffrey.

And he was PISSED. I don’t know if he was dozing and she startled him awake, or possibly stepped on or very near him or what, but man, he was putting on a real show before I even opened the door.

Usually, Sir Geoffrey is a real chill dude. I have a habit of going through doors like a bull charging the red cape, so I was constantly launching myself out the doorway and then realizing that I was practically stepping on him out there – and he’d never gone into that kind of performance for me. Shoot, half the time, he’d just sort of raise his head a little bit, regard me sleepily for a moment, and then give a shrug of his non-existent shoulders and hie it for the rosemary bushes before I could go get the broom to shoo him off.

“Oh. Hey. How’s it goin’. Some weather we’re having lately, huh? Welp! that’s enough chit-chat for me today, later!” {slither-slither-slither}

If you’ve never seen a gopher snake doing their best defensive show, it can be…quite the experience. What they do is a really good impersonation of a rattlesnake. They wriggle their tail like they’re rattling, and simultaneously make a hissing noise that, depending on the skill of the actor, can sound an awful lot like a rattlesnake. They suck in air to make themselves look bigger, coil up and raise their heads like a viper, and even – get this – flatten their heads from their normal ‘capsule’ shape into a more triangular shape.

For bonus points, they don’t back down readily, either. They’ll often keep up the show until you leave, and even make strikes at you all viper-style.

I could be wrong and I’m too lazy to Google it, but I have a hunch it comes down to the fact that they are not particularly fast moving snakes: They aren’t going to be able to outrun much of anything, so their best chance at getting out of the situation alive is going to be making the predator run for it.

This probably works really well on things like hawks, coyotes and other such predators…but with man, well, we go get the shovel and KILL the bastard.

Which is a shame, because honestly-truly, they are a good kind of snake to have around. We’d be hip-deep in rodents without them, and given the choice I’ll take a gopher snake over {shudder} delta rats ANY day of the week.

But I digress.

So there’s Sir Geoffrey, and he’s all, “I am a scary rattlesnake! You’d better run! Seriously! You’d better! Watch as I flatten my head and make it all triangle-shaped! Ooooooh, so scary!…why are you not running yet…?”

And the delivery lady is still screeching and carrying on, so I reassuringly yelled, “Hang on, I’ll take care of it!”, grabbed my broom and started sweeping the porch.

Sir Geoffrey and I have an understanding, see. He figured out real quick that if he didn’t skeedaddle, the broom would start sweeping right under his tail.

So he gave me one last really disgusted look…slithered lazily off into the rosemary bushes, where he skulked for a moment before making his way along the house and zip! under the fence into the backyard.

The Great Snake Menace thus resolved, I turned back to the poor delivery lady and hollered, “IT’S OK, HE’S GONE NOW!”

She stood up, executed a perfect Picard Maneuver™, and hollered back, “OH no, I am not going anywhere near that thing! You come over here and get it!”

I can’t say that I blame her at all.

So I obediently trotted over and collected my box of vitamins and told her about Geoffrey: that he’s just a harmless gopher snake, he won’t hurt you, more hiss than bite, blah blah blah.

She was not one bit convinced.

And I tell you what: When she put that van in gear? She lit out of the court like she had topped it off with jet fuel that morning. Vroom!

…and I haven’t seen hide nor hair…er…scale of Sir Geoffrey anywhere in the front yard since.

Or that delivery lady, come to think of it.


Monday, May 09, 2016

The San Joaquin County Wilderness Report

So, I was in the bathroom (because where else would I be) when suddenly Eldest came bursting in going, “Mom! Mom?! – there’s a snake on the porch. A big one.”

I took a moment to contemplate this information.

We don’t actually see very many snakes around here anymore. I probably see a lot more of them than anybody else in the house, because I spend more time out in the yard – and mostly what I see is the flick of a tail skedaddling back under the fence into the ranches on the other side.

And they’re almost never more than 1-2 feet long from tip of tongue to whip of tail.

So I was chuckling to myself a little bit as I dutifully tromped downstairs to observe the “big” snake, wondering to myself why it was that just about every human ever has categorized any snake big enough to be seen with the naked eye as being “big.” 

And then I looked out the front window and thought, Dang…you know what? She’s right. That’s a decent-sized snake right there.

I’ll admit that for a moment, I hesitated.

I’m no herpetologist and thus to me, the difference in body markings between a harmless old gopher snake (which was what I was pretty sure it was) and a super-scary-must-call-animal-control-and-scream-incoherently-until-they-send-somebody-out-to-deal-with-it rattlesnake are not “totally obvious at first glance.”

So even though I’m fairly sure I’d have a better chance at being struck by lightning twice in rapid succession while clutching a winning Super Lottery Ticket in one hand and tickets to Hamilton in the other than to walk outside and find an actual rattlesnake on my front porch – well, let’s just say it would be just my luck to confidently stomp outside to clear off a “gopher snake” and end up in the ER explaining over and over again how I’d managed to take a rattlesnake bite right on the nose.

So I took my time and observed for a bit until I was 200% certain that what I had on my porch was in fact a gopher snake.

And then I spent a few more moments pondering what I wanted to do about it.

I mean, I couldn’t just leave him where he was – it’s a high-traffic area, with a lot of kids pounding to and fro all day and night. The last thing I wanted was for one of the precious little snowflakes to go fleeing home screaming about a “huge” snake, summoning their fathers out with shovels or what-have-you to “dispose” of it.

But at the same time, I didn’t want to really scare him off.

Basically, what I wanted to do was shoo him in the direction of the back yard – because given my preference, I really would like him to stick around.

They eat gophers, y’all. And mice, rats, pigeons, squirrels – just about all the various varmints that like to get into my garden and destroy every last thing growing in it.

And a snake that size? Yeah. He’s a friend.

So I got my trusty broom, went out onto the porch, stood well back from his business end and started sweeping a few inches behind his tail. Snakes can be remarkably delicate, actually – what we consider a “gentle nudge” can really hurt them, so I didn’t want to, you know, actually nudge him with the broom.

He did not like this. He gave me a warning hiss (have you ever heard a gopher snake hiss? it is impressively loud), and pulled back like he was going to take a big old bite out of that broom.

So I pulled it back and we stared each other down for a minute. Then I swept a few more times a little bit further away from his tail and he was all, FINE. Be that way. I didn’t want to be on your stupid porch anyway…

…aaaaaaand he pushed on over to sulk in the rosemary bushes for a little bit while I went back inside and we all peered at him through the window.

Once he was sure the coast was clear, he casually made his way along the front of the house and zip! under the fence into the backyard.


I hope you find fertile hunting grounds back there, my friend – please, take two gophers, no, no, I insist

Friday, April 29, 2016

I was starting to think it would never come…

I have never been so glad to see 2:00 in the afternoon arrive as I was today.

Close the books on this one, boys, it’s quittin’ time on a Friday…

These last several weeks have been a constant rollercoaster ride, but this week took that madness just that little bit further.

For one thing, my boss was off doing all-day boss-stuff in a different state for the first half of the week, which coincidentally was right when ALL HELL was breaking loose across ALL the tenants.

Nothing I couldn’t handle, Dog be praised, but it was exhausting. It was one of those weeks where it felt like everybody was just sitting there, gazing intently at the screen, waiting for my little light to go green indicating I was online.


Same thing when I tried to grab even a few minutes to stuff some food into my face.


Eighteen messages blinking forlornly at me. “hey, when u get back, PING ME. URGENT.”

Plus, the meetings. OHmyGAHD, the meetings. I honestly think I spent about 85% of my time in meetings from Monday through the end of Thursday.

Many of them meetings that were not on my calendar when I first got to work in the morning.

In related news, I absolutely despise That Thing where you’re sitting there minding your own business, possibly thinking, whew, finally, a little BREAK in the meetings, I can ACTUALLY get some WORK done now, I’ve got, like, 45 whole minutes until the next one starts!,

…and then suddenly, a meeting reminder pops up as the ‘new email’ sound goes off and that’s right, somebody just dragged you into a meeting that is already going on, which is NEVER good news…

And. It.Just. Kept. Happening., all week. AND-AND-AND! Why were they dragging me into it? BECAUSE! They wanted me to just walk in and basically do presentations about increasingly esoteric parts of systems I don’t technically work on.

{throws laptop across the room}

I’m sorry, we are experiencing some technical issues, please try again later…

And then there was all kinds of Denizen Drama – “come get me I’m sick,” dentist appointments, “can you give me and a few of my friends rides to everywhere, and then back again?” and “hey, can my friend come over because {long, sad story about how her parents can’t even right now and she needs food, shelter and the loving presence of a benevolent parental figure so why the @^*&@ would you have them come HERE, you little twerp?!…er…I mean, of course, darling, I’d be delighted to pretend to be a benevolent, loving mother-figure…}”, AND, being informed of Major School Events the night before they happened, which naturally is after I agreed to swap on-call duties for that night which is why EVERYTHING blew up about half an hour before I was supposed to run him over there for The Big Event…

{rubs temples}

Sometimes, I really do question my life choices. And those times usually coincide with exactly this kind of thing, where something happens in production and I have to drop everything and rush around like a crazy-person dealing with it.

It makes it really hard to maintain a consistent work/life balance, you know? When the system is crashing, I can hardly tell ten thousand users who are trying to provide services for hundreds of thousands of customers that they’ll all just have to lump it, because I’m busy right now.

I coulda been, like, an accountant. Or a bartender. But ooooooooh no, I wanted to go into IT…

All of which was capped off by my boss casually tossing out, “Hey, so, this bunch of boss-stuff that I currently do? Yeahhhhhh, I’m gonna need you to start taking that over for me. And also this stuff. Actually, we need to talk, because I have some plans for you and I think you’ll really like it because, well, there’s a lot of growth opportunity if you want it but anyway, we’ll talk later…”

…and then vanishing so we never actually chatted about it.


It’s either nothing, or it’s huge.

…I’ll just sit here coming up with increasingly unlikely scenarios all weekend then, shall I…?



I’m really glad this week is over now.

Turn off the alarm. Bring on the junk food.

I am beyond ready.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Meanwhile, on Lifestyle of the Poor and Stupid

Y’ALL…I am having one helluva run lately.

EXHIBIT A, from last month (and the only one I have pictorial evidence of):

Now, what I would love to be able to report is that, say, I came out from doing the grocery shopping and just found the side of my van smashed in like that.

Or that somebody rammed into us at a stop sign, because they were doing something really stupid like trying to text a selfie to themselves or some-such.

Or even that I just came out one morning and found that Homer had gotten into a dispute with another minivan over females (there is a rather sexy Corvette across the street that I suspect may be going into heat).

But this is not what happened.

What happened was…I hit a tree.






…I just…can’t even…I have been driving for a bit over thirty years. I have by my rough estimation driven almost a million miles without a single “at-fault” accident to my record; six vehicles that were each over 200K miles before they went to the great Car Hereafter, adjusted down a bit in deference to the fact that most of them were also driven by the husband for at least some of those miles.

AND, I have been driving ‘extra long’ vehicles like full-sized or minivans for over twenty of those years. It’s not like I am not keenly aware of how much more vehicle there is after the driver’s seat has passed something. Or new to the peculiar geometry involved in piloting same, where the rear of your vehicle has a nasty habit of turning not exactly independently of the front end, but definitely on a different trajectory than you might expect.

But, I misjudged my clearance of that stupid tree. It’s planted right at the edge of a rather narrow driveway (like, “parking lot => sidewalk => let’s plant the tree HERE, literally IN the CURB!”), where you have to make a very sharp right turn to get onto the street. And I thought I was clear of it, but, well, I wasn’t.

For bonus points, at the time? I thought I’d bumped the tree. You know, lightly. I winced and thought, Ugh…more scratches…well, hopefully they’ll buff out, but, you know, eh, they’ll be in good company, poor old Homer has TONS of dings and scratches already…

Then I got home, walked around and looked at it, my chin hit the driveway and I may have uttered a few choice words that peeled the paint even more. And then I was all, “I can’t call the insurance company. I just can’t. There is no way I can say the words ‘I hit a tree’ and live…the embarrassment will kill me…”

But eventually I did  and about a week later…

it never even happened…

Right around the same time, work was a massive fireball of insanity. We had two releases back to back, we just started using this “automated” deploy tool that involves branching and merging and more merging and nobody really knows how to use the thing because training? naaaaaaaah, it’s INTUITIVE, and the Mandate™ is START USING THIS, IMMEDIATELY!, sooooooo, we did and inevitably, somebody really screwed it up.

…so then after that 2/26 release, the code in production was this weird meld of the 2/19 release and the 2/26 release and ?????????? release (October, I think) that had somehow gotten ported into the branch for 2/26…ugh, what a mess.

We’re still finding little…Easter eggs…all up and down the stack. Most of them minor irritations, but a few of them really, REALLY bad.

Like, deleted almost ALL of the profitability records, and mangled the ones it didn’t delete levels of bad.

{beats head on desk to ease pain}

Meanwhile in other news, our Sharepoint site – the entire site, calendars, wiki pages, documentation, ALL of it – vanished. Because another group decided to move it.

Well, parts of it.

Secretly, they were hoping nobody would notice and they would be able to allow everything they didn’t move to delete itself after seven days.

But old Killjoy over here noticed by 5:35 a.m. the very first day after they pulled this stunt, OH YES I DID.

And was on the horn screaming, “YOU WILL PUT IT BACK, ALL OF IT, RIGHT. NOW., DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!” by 5:38.

…geez, woman, people in China can hear you, calm down…

MEANWHILE, the Happy Hooligans were busy smashing the current branch of our handy-dandy, super-intuitive, this will make it so that NOTHING will EVER go wrong again during a deploy software.

Which then took about four days to untangle.

In the meantime, both my desktop and my laptop pitched massive hissy-fits and demanded maintenance. NOW.

{most of a precious weekend day spent running diagnostics / removing ancient software / reviewing the whackity-gazillion things that had inserted themselves into “on startup” loading} (on the plus side, both machines now boot in a fraction the time they used to take, and neither has given us a blue screen since)

Then we had an exhausting two-for-one event last weekend, with a BCP (<= “business continuity plan”, a.k.a., “let’s pretend that our production servers all simultaneously exploded and we had to switch over to the backup servers in the farm that is about 850 miles away from them!”) exercise and a huge patching event that rolled through darn near every server in Wholesale, and I was online an “extra” twenty hours between Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

Which was why my boss collared me Monday morning as I was pulling my favorite pot on my head so I could go joust some more windmills and said, “Hold it! You. Pick a day this week, and take most of it off.”

So after consulting the calendar, I picked today. I logged off by 9:30 in the morning, got my nails done and my bangs trimmed, and even got myself a treat at McDonalds on the way home.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day out here today, the birds are singing, the puddles from last week’s storms are all dried up, it’s not too hot and not too cold and I was thinking to myself, “Sweet! I still have, like, four hours before I have to pick up the Denizens! I can start working on the backyard, turn the water on and find all the busted manifolds, start rebuilding the beds we tore apart for the construction last year…it’ll be fantastic to get outside!”

…oh, but first, I’m going to clean this kitchen, ye gods, what a DISGUSTING mess..!

Scraped the first plate, flipped on the disposal, aaaaaaaaaaaand…[BLURRRRRRRRRGGGGGGLEEEEEEEEE!]

Water came welling up in the other sink. Nasty, blackened water with all manner of ick in it. Way more water than seemed even possible. Like, not just the water that I had put into the other sink, but like there was some kind of “let’s divert the creek water into that sink over there!” amounts of water.

I let out a screech that could be heard from space. Turned off the water and stood there watching in horrified fascination as the water continued to rise in the other sink. Breathed a sigh of relief as it started to ever so slowly stop rising and start draining again.

…and then I heard the unmistakable sound of a waterfall coming from under the sink. Threw it open and sure enough, the water wasn’t draining out the pipes, it was just happily creating a new lake for all its muck to splash around in under the sink.

You know those moments when you just kind of stand there for a second, mesmerized by something that is unfolding in front of you even as another part of your brain is screaming, “QUICK, YOU IDIOT! GET SOMETHING UNDER THAT! DON’T JUST STAND THERE WATCHING IT! MOVE-MOVE-MOVE!!”?

…but you can’t, all you can do is just stand there, like this?


Totally one of those moments.

About an hour later, there was a poor, underpaid-no-matter-how-much-he-makes guy currently rooting around under my nasty swamp-imbued kitchen sink forcing cables and jets of water and large machinery that goes “RRRRRUM-RUTTA-RUTTA-RUTTA-THUMP-THUMP!!” through the pipes that exit through the back of the sink.

Because hahahahaha, no, of course it wasn’t a “simple” case of the trap being full! Hahahahahahahahaha, no, it was some BIG, REALLY-SOLID clog somewhere MUCH further down the line!

{pours rum into soda, takes a very large sip}

Well, I was going to go work outside in the garden today…and I actually still could get an hour or two out there if I really wanted to…but frankly, I kind of don’t.

The deploy I’m not technically attending starts in an hour, the Denizens are popping in and out of my office like sideways jack-in-the-boxes, and I feel way more frazzled and on-edge than seems reasonable right this minute.

Like I expect to look over my shoulder and see an actual, living tiger staring at me meaningfully.




That’s just the cat.

Who is now meowing loudly because I glanced her direction, which hopefully means that I’m going to drop everything and feed her. Like, right-now.


My life, man. It’s just a never-ending cycle of thrilling adventure lately…

Thursday, March 17, 2016

…you had ONE JOB…

For some reason, I have been really bothered by something lately. Not like, you know, my whole life’s focus has narrowed down to this ONE THING kind of really bothered, but still…bothered.

And it’s this: Somewhere out there, right this minute, someone is being paid actual money to come up with a subject line for an email campaign.

And that person, after due consideration, is going to come up with something along the lines of, “HURRY!!! ONLY FOUR MORE DAYS TO SAVE!!!!!!”

Or, “You won’t BELIEVE the DEALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

…really…? That was your best shot?


Maybe it’s just me, BUT…well. Put it this way: I have a handful of half-arsed rules set up in Outlook to catch “obviously spam advertisements” that my gray mail tool can’t seem to identify. 

The out-of-the-box gray mail scanner gets maybe 10% of the junk.

My handful of rules get about 85% of it.

Which is another whole rant, ESPECIALLY if we factor in how often the ‘professionally designed by actual email-coding-people’ scanner MISSES the spam but decides one of my ACTUAL HUMAN FRIENDS is CLEARLY a dangerous entity who needs to be BLOCKED…but let’s stay on topic for now.

Every time I take the fast-scan through the junk folder my rules automatically move those things to, I get perversely irritated about not the fact that they exist in the first place…or the fact that I feel obligated to at least glance at them in case I accidentally shunted aside an actual email from an actual person…no.

It’s that the thought inevitably occurs to me: Somebody was paid to come up with a subject line for that spam, and proceeded to come up with one that was so cookie-cutter that my half-arsed Outlook rules could identify it immediately as being, well, spam.

You had ONE JOB, man: Come up with a subject line that would catch my attention and make me go, “Huh, that might actually be worth opening…”

…and you came up with “HURRY!!! ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT TO SAVE!!!!!” (<= two string-based rules broken, “starts with ‘hurry’”and “more than two exclamation points in a row”, tsk-tsk-tsk…)

Now granted, it wouldn’t be easy to come up with an endless supply of clever, interesting subject lines for such campaigns. There’s only so many ways to say “we are having a sale on stuff! you should totally check it out!”

And also there’s the fact that I often fail to remember that not everybody in America shares my interest in language.

I mean, I use words like ‘obfuscatate’ in work emails. <= exactly like that, with a hyperlink to the definition so nobody has to ’fess up if they have no clue what it means.

BUT, the one thing I do know is that everybody else is just like me: If you’ve ever bought even one thing online? => you’ve got a zillion-and-five spam emails coming a week. 

I cannot possibly be the only person who has become downright glassy-eyed about it. Or the only person who doesn’t even pause to look at which retailer is sending them. The subject starts with ‘Hurry!!!’? nope, we’re DONE here…{delete}

C’mon guys. Hire some people who know how to make words sing. Give some aspiring novelists a day job. Give ME a break.

And who knows? Maybe you might even get one or two more of the elebenty-gazillion people whose inboxes are bloating up with these things to actually open it, if only in the hopes that the ad-text won’t be the usual blend of ‘exciting’ ‘fashionable’ ‘best prices of the year’ every other ad has been for the last forever plus fifteen years…

Thursday, February 04, 2016

My new hobby is apparently keeping the neighbors guessing

Soooooo…I’ve needed to make a Costco run for a couple weeks now. We were out of sugar, salt, baking powder, peanut butter – pretty much all the basic building blocks of modern life.

Plus we were also dangerously low on coffee. Hel-LO, just found a little MOTIVATION…

But as usual, I kept finding it remarkably hard to actually get around to doing it.

It is, after all, not exactly a “quick” and/or “easy” trip for me. Everything is heavy, it always ends up taking a full two hours (usually more like three) no matter how carefully I plan the invasion shopping trip, and then I end up with a dangerously overloaded cart that creates a minor panic as I approach the checkout lines because, well, they see me rollin’, they hatin’… 

Eventually it got to be so ridiculous that I once again tried to figure out how I could do the fax-n-pull thing. I mean, c’mon: They’re always telling me that I could and should just fax my order over, and they’ll pull it all for me, and then I just show up, pay and lug it all home. It would save a ludicrous amount of time and aggravation for me.

While I was clicking around looking for the instructions-which-do-not-exist for doing this, I stumbled on an interesting little bit of not-at-all-recent-news: Google Express offers delivery from…Costco.

…o rly…?

Now, I will admit right up front that I initially looked at the $4.99 charge for the delivery and balked out of pure habit.

…and then four more days went by and the coffee situation was looking a little desperate and the Denizens were whining about there being no sugar and I was using weird things in my coffee because, well, no sugar and I went fine.

It took me exactly sixteen minutes to put in my order.

And then two days later a large truck rumbled up, a burly gentleman wheeled five enormous boxes and two large bags up to the door, tipped his hat and roared off again.

It took me about an hour to get enough time between meetings to nick out to the front door and haul the boxes into the house.

It took considerably less time for the neighbors to have noticed that basically my entire porch was barricaded by enormous boxes.

They were congregated across the street chatting, and then my front door opened and I started hefting the boxes – which were very heavy, I might add – into the house.

All chatting ceased.

They stood there and watched me wrestling the things into the house.

Clearly dying of curiosity.

But probably a little afraid to ask.

I waved cheerfully as I hefted the last big sack into the house, and they waved back…somewhat trepidatiously.

Most of them have shared this court with us for a looooooong time now. They have seen me stringing brightly-dyed skeins of yarn out to dry, watched an enormous greenhouse start to be built aaaaaand then not end up being finished, they have been victimized by my better years of gardening (“someone is at the door” “OMG, don’t open it, it’s the crazy zucchini-lady again!!!”), they witness the continual stream of children pouring in and out of Homer the Odyssey every day after school (because I appear to have gotten a second job as a free taxi service for every kid in the neighborhood), and so forth and so on.

They know I’m completely insane, in other words. Oh, but in a NICE way, hahahaha…hahaha…haha…ahem…

They daren’t ask what in the world I just had delivered.

…but I know they are just dying to ask…

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gold stars and dorky outfits

YOU KNOW THOSE DAYS…when you’re sitting there…in a meeting…and someone says “we want you to do this absolutely ridiculous thing that is totally unnecessary and will have such a high cost in resources that we might as well just give up and go back to carving hieroglyphs onto rocks because it probably would be faster”…and you look at them and go:

…and then you go, “blah blah blah resources etc. etc. performance yadda yadda seriously, man, that’d be, like, ‘can’t even USE the thing anymore’ levels of bad…

And then they go, welllll i mean i doan wanna tell u wat u biz-niz iz, dawg, BUT…!

…and proceed to tell you that they “tested” this hypothesis by comparing something totally different from what you’re talking about (includes Ridiculous Thing, but not most of the whackity-gazillion OTHER things the newer system does) vs. what you are talking about sorta-kinda…in an environment with two users / almost-zero data, aaaaaaaaand…they can prove that there is exactly no performance impact from doing the twelve-pass crazy-cake of repeated-calling-to-the-server-over-and-over-again that they totally NEED to do.

And then they’re all like this because they are so sure they just checkmated you…

…and you’re all like this because up close you it really looks like The Stupids here are EPIC in size, which clearly can’t be true because you know that these are not stupid people

…and the rest of your team are all like this…

…because they know you’re about to tilt another windmill?

{…puts pot on head, picks up ruler and charges into battle…}

Yeah. Three times this week.

In related news, I feel I deserve a damned medal for not losing my temper OR my patience, and for not laying a verbal smack down on the offender that would have had his ancestors back to seven or eight generations nursing a headache.

It would have been counterproductive…team-destroying-instead-of-team-building…widening the rift between Business and Tech when we’ve all worked so hard to bring us closer to each other…


But, no. I resisted. I minded my manners. I remained cheerful and helpful and go team! as I went about shutting THAT noise down.

Because I…am an adult.

Also because I was successfully Adulting this week, every single day this week, I went straight from work-work into house-work, even though I could totally have played some Warcraft or something instead and nobody would have been around to call me on it.

My kitchen actually looks…not scary. The bathrooms aren’t completely disgusting. There is less dust on things. The carpets got vacuumed. Dinners were made and served before, like, 9:30 at night.

I am so awesome I don’t even know how to describe it right now.

{puts eight gold stars on Adulting chart from Creatively Katherine, who apparently actually does all kinds of creative home-making things that I think about doing, but then never actually do because it requires things like ‘creativity’ and ‘effort’ – and also because my decorating theme these last few years has apparently been “unkempt barn populated entirely by feral animals”}

AND THEN, I went to the husband’s company party and did Social Things, and I even stayed in the room and did social-stuff instead of sneaking out to hide somewhere like I usually do.

{puts another three dozen gold stars on chart}

Which reminds me, this is the outfit I put together for the husband’s company party last night…because I hate shopping for dresses but can spend any amount of time oogling “cool” and “interesting” fashion choices. All of it came from Amazon except that little leather pouch, which I got about ten thousand years ago from the Oberon Design booth at Ren Faire. The husband already had the tophat and coat from his Dickens Fair days, so we got him a pair of goggles to put on the hat, a white vest and cravat, and a new pants and shoes. I think he looked rather dashing.

Yeah. We’re a pair of dorks. But we have an awful lot of fun with it. Also, I suck at doing “solemn” pictures. I just can’t seem to not get the giggles, every time I try. Sigh.

ANYWAY…I figure at this point I have done all the Adulting necessary to completely fill up three of those charts, and therefore I get three rewards, all of which involve loafing, goofing off and otherwise not Adulting.


(The outfit is actually very simple and not terribly expensive to put together: One steampunk-ish bodice, a ruffly-shirt, one long black skirt and one long white one, a tie-on “bustle” thing [“…does this make my butt look big…?”], a clip-on hat, and a pair of  “Victorian-ish” boots…the total cost was around $160, which wasn’t too bad for “semi-formal” eventwear. It certainly isn’t “authentic” steampunk, but this wasn’t an “authentic” steampunk event, so, whatever) (I also had a big black lace shawl I knit a few years ago from a delicious wool yarn a very sweet coworker bought for me as a going away present when my contract with the company was up…but I’d shed it by the time we were taking these pictures because it got warm in there.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I don't wanna shop no more

IMMA JUST GONNA SAY IT (again): I hate shopping for clothes.

The only thing I hate more than clothes shopping in general is shopping for dresses.

And the only thing worse than shopping for dresses in general is shopping for a specific kind of dress.

Like, say, something to wear to a black-and-white “affair.”

…if somebody could just, like, stab me right now, that’d be awesome. I mean, don’t kill me or anything, that’d be bad, but, you know, just wound me badly enough that I can honestly say, “Aww, gosh, I’m so sorry that I couldn’t attend le soiree, but I am just completely laid up right now…”

I’m pretty sure it would be less painful than trying to shop for a new dress.

FIRST OF ALL…when exactly did “sleeves” become taboo? Seriously. It is January, people. I am not going to go prancing around in a sleeveless little confection with my goose-pimples playing peekaboo with $DEITY and everybody.

I am one of those people who starts whining that it feels awfully cold in here when the temperature drops below about 70 degrees, and escalates the whining to a continual, high-pitched drone if it goes any lower than that.


I’m cold, dammit.

If I weren’t also cheap, I would so have cranked up the heater by now.

But I digress.

Sleeveless sheathes of floaty-chiffon = OUT.

SECONDLY, do you know what I do not need? A slit in my dress extending all the way up to my darned crotch.

Just, no.

Nor do I feel any particular need to wear a dress whose entire corset area is see-through. I mean, really now. Nobody wants to be resting their eyeballs on my ever-so-alluring grandma-bras, people. NOBODY.

Oh, there’s a half-way decent…seven-hundred-and-how-many-bucks?!-yeah-ok-no-NEXT!!!


Look. It’s very simple: I just want something black and/or white that is pretty but not too short, too revealing, too old-lady-ish, flattering to a body that hasn’t completely given up all hope of being female, buuuuuuut also admittedly has a bit of (ahem) mileage on it.

And isn’t, you know, boring.

Like maybe this. Only in black and white. Because, black and white event, duh.

Or since it’s a kinda formal-ish thing, maybe this one. It’s interesting, right?

Hmm, maybe this is a little…much

No, wait-wait-wait, this is much better…the collar makes this thing…

no, I have NOT gotten sidetracked, I assure you I am LASER-FOCUSED right now…

OK, maybe a little sidetracked.


…somehow, stabbing myself to get out of going at all to this thing is starting to sound more and more rational…