Monday, December 27, 2010

Forging new ground

Where I work has a fairly generous vacation policy, by and large, but at no time is it better than at THIS time of year, because the whole darned business is shut down from 24 Dec, through this week, with regular business opening back up on the 3rd of January.

Yes, it's sweet.

Made even sweeter because (and at first I thought this kind of sucked), the company decided last year that keeping track of who was carrying over vacation was too much work and made a 'use it or lose it' policy regarding vacation time. So, given that I'd carried 5 days (the max) over from last year, and had 17 days to take on top of that, and by the beginning of November still had to take something like 12 days or lose them, my work schedule in December went like this: Work a half day every Friday, then take Dec 22-06 Jan off, inclusive.

Almost 2 continuous weeks off work. DANG!

I've not had this much time off, all in a row, as vacation (maternity leave doesn't count), in I think ever. A girl could get used to lolling about, READING, getting bored of the internet, taking actual baths, indulging in some high-grade personal care, and napping. She really really could, but, semi-unfortunately this girl won't have a chance to fully realize the lolling potential as she's engaged in that fabulous game: "Let's Remodel the Kitchen!" with her loving and capable spouse.

Yes, vacation includes a full-scale re-do of our dumpy little kitchen. Biff had had enough, thank you, of the wavy floors, the crappy cabinets, the horrible low ceilings, etc etc and decided the time was NOW to gut and reclothe the most-used room in the house. He does this for a living, so I decided to just go with the flow and see where the current takes us. Plus which, it's mostly funded by him, so who am I to say he can't spend his own money on gorgeous new cabinets, fantastic ceiling fans, real wood floors, and the like? Exactly - I have no say in it, and so must ride out hte wave of new purchases like the adoring spouse I am. Never mind that I'm mentally clapping with glee when he says' I bought a new stove today' or 'let's get the one we REALLY want,' even though that one costs a bit more. Yes, I'm kind and patient where spending his money is concerned, and as it turns out, it's something I'm really quite good at!

Spending money is the fun part. It must be noted: I've never lived through a kitchen remodel before. It is quite the learning experience, not all of which is as fun as spending money!

Thus far, since (um) last Thursday (I think) the upper cabinets have been ripped out, the older ceiling deconstructed, the beams holding up the older ceiling torn out, many new electrical boxes and circuits and mysterious things installed, NEW framing put up over the oldest ceiling, and yesterday we sheetrocked the newest ceiling and started installing beadboard to finish the ceiling. Today, the plan is to finish the beadboard install and paint the ceiling. Oh, and some dudes are supposed to be here to install a SolaTube so that we don't have to be putting on the lights at 2 in the afternoon in the kitchen. Hooray!!

The part of the kitchen remodel I didn't expect but find rather lovely (because Biff insists on it) is that, every night after flinging dirt and sawdust and coal dust and cellulose insulation and nails and other associated gunk all over the kitchen, we take a half an hour to thoroughly clean up. It's a pain in the ass, quite honestly, and i might not do such a good job of it so consistently because I have a problem with being breathtakingly lazy most of the time, but being able to walk through the kitchen without shimmying around a panel lift or the drywall cart or a pile of pink insulation or a table full to overflowing with tools is, honestly, very nice and lends a far more sanitary air once the cooking starts, because in addition to working all day in the dang kitchen we're determined to cook as long as there's a stove in the dang kitchen. (Ed note: Now that, friends, is how to build a run-on sentence!) Come early January, there won't be a stove for a period of a week or so, so we need to keep the Tiny House smelling like someone loves it as long as possible.

We might be a little crazy, but we're crazy together, so there.

Therefore, my extra-long vacation is a combination of the lolling about, bursts of work (I call it work but I'm really just a tool wrangler), and cheffing. It's time off I can live with, and time I intend to fully exploit before heading back into the world of work (I call it work but I'm really just a word-wrangler with an incredible capacity for sitting) and all the crazy that awaits in the cube farm. Word is there's a move afoot to move us across the building (because, clearly, someone in facilities doesn't have enough to do), something that fills me with hate and rage, so I'm simply not going to think about it and instead fully vest myself in the Laurie Notaro marathon/recipe search/intensive hair care regimen/excessive coffee drinking/omphaloskepsis.

Oh, and the construction too. There is that, after all.

Tiff out.


(pic by Bob Biess)

Monday, December 20, 2010

What the heck is this pile of ashes doing here?

Whoa - what happened to last week? Last I knew it was the 15th, and there were aliens populating the inner space between my ears, and now it's full-on Christmas madness which has chased poor Virdmar (was that his/her name?) nearly out entirely. Poor poor Virdmar. He's been left out there starting at a confusion of stars for days now, and I'm not entirely certain anymore what's supposed to happen to him.

Speaking of which, I had the Things read the start of Virdmar's story, and it seems they quite enjoyed it. After reading, I had a 20-minute conversation with Thing 1 about where he thinks the story should go next. I presented my 2 ideas, we talked over their merits, and have decided that option #1 is the better way to go with this one. Yeah, who needs a spaceship populated with programmed offspring, anyhow? The idea of Comm and Dette have spent the past near-eternity cranking out subroutines (heh) kind of appealed to me, but that's not where the tale is going to go, and I have my 15-year-old editor to thank for it.

So, sorry Malach, no space sex for you. Yet. I might wedge some in just to keep up the interest. And no, I won't be having the Things read THAT installment.


Having an editor is a good thing. They can keep you going when ideas are floundering, and it seems that they might even have a few ideas of their own, if my recent experience is any indication.

Also, if it's any indication, a book I edited for a client of my ex-husband's (got that one?) has shown up, signed, on my doorstep, with a very nice thank you penned in as well. Seems I've made the book a 'smarter' read, which pleases me.

I spent some time re-reading some of the most troublesome passages last night, and I have to say that she took my ideas to heart and has indeed made the book more understandable and relatable in those rough spots. Sometimes my thoughts were not easy to decipher, as I recall adding in marginal notes like "What?" and "no" and other oh-so-unhelpful guides. However, enough meat must have been offered up for her to chew on, and so I send you a link to the place where you can get a better idea of what it's all about and maybe even order a copy? Maybe?


Must go - there's work to be done, dishes to wash, and an inexplicable plethora of fuzz on the carpet that needs to be vacuumed.

Y'all rock the remainder of this Monday, and I'll see you soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh, I'm just trying it out.

After about the third Farnsworth crenellation, Virmarn began to weary of space. Oh sure, the initial super-torques using the ampmotor were great, and even a couple of years figuring out the math behind the Scarlett-Fermi phenomenon were amusing, but after a while things, even never-before-seen--things, get old hat. Nothing is very interesting for long if there's nobody to share it with, after all, and the hyper-connectivity of his youth was not a good starting point for a city boy who got bored one day and decided to hitch a ride on the next craft to the Outer Reaches.

OK, hitch isn't exactly right. He'd been at Novosibirsk U and was due to graduate at the top of his class in thermoatomic sciences, and had been promised a ride on the Bolt in exchange for free tuition for his doctorate after he got back, so hitching is a little disingenuous for a class-A genius, but still. Something about the way he got on board seemed, now that he'd had the time to think about it, a little abrupt. Even though it had taken him a full year to agree to the terms and conditions of the contract being offered, first being sure to ensure that Novosibirsk U would be be in existence when he returned (it was, after all, to be a very long flight), it now seemed that things had proceeeded at a very rapid pace indeed. After 6 years in flight, with no-one but the Comm and the Dette to talk to, he realized he should have bargained for a professorship on his return, at least.

It was not good to worry though. The people he'd talked with before setting off were no longer alive, of that he was sure. Periodic entrenchments in the Zip made the time between maneuvers bearable, but separated him further and further in time as well as distance from those who were his peers. By the time he returned, if in fact he'd calculated the last Wurmstrumian hole-skip correctly, even his great grandchildren would be dead.

It concerned him that he'd had to calculate the last skip by hand. Apparently something had gone awry with either the ground-based talk line or the butlerships that had been providing both information and protection. Whatever it was, he'd had no datastream capability as of wakeup, and so had needed to rely on cruder methods for setting course. Who knew what had happended to the support staff, really, as the last Zipout had only been a few hours ago and the last of the ZoneOff was still leaching out of his bowels. A little while longer and it would be possible to think again, which made him concerned about the skip calcs he'd done on first waking up, but there was nothing to do about it now, the coords were in the machine and he'd pressed the Easy button before before cooler heads (his, presumably) could prevail. Now there was nothing but the waiting.

The waiting was agonizing. Comm check equalled nothing, again. He hadn't been responding since Virmarn has come out of the Zip, which was troubling, as the Comm was usually the one that ordered up the wakeup when something needed to be done. The only thing Comm had done was cue up a song that Virmarn like to hear coming out of Zip, and now Virmarn couldn't stop it from playing. After a few hours (more or less) it was becoming aggravating, no matter how enjoyable the beat and volume had been on unZip.

Dette was a little better for wear, but not her usual self. She had responded to an earlier entreaty for warmth, but tepidly. She'd said something about being 'busy', but that was a concept she'd not been able to grasp before the last Zip. Also, she sounded tired. This was what concerned him the most, because no matter how much actual time had gone by, neither Comm for Dette had ever seemed weary before. Virmarn knew programs could get tired, after all he'd read Red Dwarf, but it couldn't have been that long since he'd gone into Zip, because there were all those flock fields and Roku Stanchions to navigate around, which required his awakening, which was, of course, why he was here. Surely no more than a dozen real years had gone by, so why were Comm and Dette so, unavailable?

Virmarn fixed himself a cool toddy (one drink free after an unZip, his contract read), sat in the cool gel of the captain's chair, and unfurled the dashboard emap. Positioning on, nav site on, time/speed/vectoring on, check and check.

The screen flickered on, blips and blots began to appear, and in the chaos of light that ensued Vidmarn was utterly unsettled. There was nothing he recognized. No flock field, no Roku stanchions. Instead of the great bright skymarks he'd been expecting to see, the screen was pockmarked with a million tiny holes of light, an incredible show of glitz and glitter the likes of which he'd never seen. Where was the Drift of Cannulus, the Harbor of Fenestration, the Digger of Vast Holes? None of the typical great sky gaps were present, none of the gigantic tracts of empty space that he'd grown up with and expected to see through many more crennelation jumps. Why, there weren't supposed to be this many stars in one place for eons and eons and eons from where he'd set off, and even then they were only figments of the Astronomer's and Artist's imaginations! This was, in a word, incredible.

And troubling. Clearly, Vidmarn was lost.


More later.

Tiff out.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No really, December, knock it off

This cold has got to stop. This unremitting cold, that's turned nasty and wet to boot, must cease soon, or the tip of my nose is in danger of falling off. I simply cannot get warm, even when wrapped up at home in the relatively balmy 66 degree heat.

There's only one real (though temporary) way to fix the problem. That's right: BAKING.

It is time for the baking of things. Chocolate chip cookies, anyone? How about red and green jello cookies? Bourbon balls?

Other suggestions?

In about an hour (after the grocery run for butter. *snerk*) it shall begin to smell like heaven in the Tiny House. After the cookies are going , there will be some bread dough and chili making to prepare for a visit from friends tomorrow. When one is cold, one must keep moving or risk freezing in situ, which I understand is terribly uncomfortable and to be avoided at all cost.

Is it freezing where you are too? It seems like the whole US is coming down with a cold. How do you combat the cold, aside from cranking the heat and girding your loins in preparation for the receipt of the heating bill? Do tell, won't you?

Tiff out. There's butter to buy!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Don’t bogart that motivation, my friend.

Have you ever been faced with a project and timeline that is easily achievable, only to find yourself a virtual 2 breaths away from said deadline with nothing done on the project at all?

Hey - Me too!!

I was having lunch with a group of folks the other day who have the same job as I do, and we all agreed that it is the way of our people to procrastinate, divert attention to less-important projects, or flat-out waste time until such time as there’s almost no time left, at which point we get right on the ball and in a frenzy of nightmarish productivity we turn out the product, generally on time and 85% well done.

Begs the question: what the heck is WRONG with all of us?

Is this the kind of behavior that runs rampant in your field of work? I can’t believe that only writers suffer from the ‘wait ‘til panic sets in’ behavior in their work ethic. Surely engineers, programmers, and others engage in this poor excuse for professionalism, right? RIGHT?


All the other jobs I’ve had before becoming a writer were ‘daily production’ type jobs: waiter, teacher, radio announcer, etc. Those jobs were satisfying in a way that writing doesn’t lend itself to (at least as I perform the act): you showed up on time, did your time, and walked out knowing you’d done what was expected of you for that chunk of your day.

Kind of nice, but at the same time HAVING to be someplace for a period of time, the race against the clock, rankled. I’m never happy, that much is clear. If I’m not forced into daily proof of my worth, then I don’t make many of my days at work truly worthwhile, but dang if I bristle at someone making me show up and produce.

So, it’s a struggle.

However, now that I’m staring wild-eyed at yet another deadline that coming at me at a hair-raising pace, I can once again feel the adrenaline surge starting, and you can just BET that I’ll be all OVER this project, very very soon.

Like, last week would have been nice.


Anyhow, that’s what on my mind. Do feel free to offer some shaming in the comments, or perhaps some moral support as I’ve just offered up a little of my failing as a human being which of course means I deserve a lot of ‘there there dear’s and suchlike. They’re ever so much better than shamings, don’t you think?

Tiff out.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

With Love from Dee Dee McPherson

Hey look – there’s this blog thing laying around. I wonder what it does? I see that someone’s been using it to write in, but hasn’t been here in a while. It’s been days since they used it last, so obviously they don’t need it anymore or are on vacation and probably won’t mind if I play with it for a while. I mean, you wouldn’t just leave a perfectly good blog thing if you were going to USE it, would you?

Anyhow, I’m betting that whoever owns this blog won’t mind if I use it for a little while. They can’t be the ONLY one to get tot enjoy it, right? And if they’re not using it, someone else should so it doesn’t get all rusty and start smelling like the inside of a packing box left out in the sun for a day that accidentally contained mothballs and old socks. That would, quite literally, stink. So, I’ll take it out and give it a good airing, so that when the person who DOES own this blog comes back they won’t be all ‘ew’ at how musty it’s gotten. It’s too pretty for that. I mean, really, just look at the girl up there in the header - she doesn’t deserve to be the icon of a stinky old blog, does she? I think she deserves to be resident on a shiny pretty blog that smells like vanilla icing and tastes like Skittles. She needs a little glitter, a little pizazz, a little caring for!

I don't think I like the list of big words over there on the right. I wonder if they’re real words, or if the person who called them ‘porn’ is somehow pulling a fast one on us? Not like I’m going to look them up, because for every big word there are, like, 4 perfectly good little ones that need to be used. So who really cares what ‘hordoleum’ means? I’m thinking whoever own this blog might get rid of that and replace it with something shiny, like a link to a game site or something. Same for the tired old blogroll, because seriously, nobody does that anymore? I’ll bet half the links are dead. Plus which, if it was a good blogroll (not that anybody does that anymore, right?) it should at least roll up in some cool way, and not just sit there taking up space. A touch of animation never hurts anything. Same for the archives. Sheesh, at least give the reader something to play with! I guess I could tinker around with those features, but like I mentioned before this isn’t MY blog, and who knows if the person who really owns it is savvy enough with the coding and widgets to even USE them? Besides, it’s not like this is The Huff Post or or anything that lots of people actually read. I guess it’s good enough to have static archives and an outdated Blogroll if there’s a fair chance nobody’s going to use them.

Not that I don’t LIKE this blog, but it could be shinier and fresher. Where’s the ‘wow’ factor? Where’s the cool individualized header with some neat tabs or a floaty navigation bar? Where’s the autoplay video of the owner and the list of favorite Twitter sites? Man, it looks like whoever owns this blog doesn’t even TWEET, can you believe it? What are they, like, 40 or something? Not tweeting is SO old-person-ish of them. How do they expect to get popular if they’re not twittering about this blog? Come on, even a pretty blog like this (minus those issues I just mentioned) won’t attract attention and traffic if word’s not getting put out. Someone needs to talk to whoever owns this thing and get them into the 21st century already, you know? With a little social networking they could have a real following.

Oh man. It looks like they don’t even have a link to their Facebook page. I’m saying Facebook because the more I look at this blog the more I think the person who owns it is old. Clearly, if they were hip they’d be linking to MySpace, amirite? Facebook would be more their speed if they were, like, more than 30. Which I think they are, being as how all those things I’ve just spent time pointing out.

So, yeah. It’s a perfectly good blog, but could use some work. Not that I’m trying to make the owner feel bad or anything, but shoot, there’s just so much they could do with it that’s not happening. Maybe if I hang around long enough they’ll come back and I can tell them about how they could really work this thing for max impact. Everyone could use a little help, right? It would be a good thing to point out how, with my help, their blog could really shine. I’m sure they won’t mind if I just, you know, hung out and helped.

Because, honestly, the design isn’t the only thing that could use some sprucing up. I’ve read some of the entries and there’s not ONE mention of Twilight or Justin Bieber. Seriously, I know. They totally need my help.

So, I’m going to go get myself a tall skinny no-whip soy lattachino and wait to see if anyone comes by here to pick up this neglected blog. Then I’ll nicely tell them all about my ideas, and then they’ll probably want to pay me for the great advice, and then we’ll whip this thing into super-sparkly glittertastic shape. I’m so excited!

Oh, and hey – if you read this and have any ideas for whoever owns this blog about what YOU would like to see changed, and maybe what they can write about that’s not boring or stupid or so old-personish that nobody can relate, I think there’s a comments feature you can use. Come on, it’s fun, and who knows when the next time be that you get to change the course of history? Probably never, so grab it while you can!


Friday, December 03, 2010

they're making me do it

I'm 15 minutes late for leaving work. That's right, my melancholy (and otherwise) babies, I'm leaving work at 2:15 in the afternoon. What's better is that it's vacation time, I'm going to be taking every Friday afternoon off from now until the end of the year, when I', taking 2 days off before our 1.5-week company shut down, then tacking 2 more days onto THAT, for the longest stretch of time I've been off work since I was on maternity leave.

Yep - almost 2 whole weeks off, and the company is MAKING ME. 'Use it or lose it' is a policy I can totally take seriously.

Crap - I've already wasted 5 minutes of vacation time writing this - what am I, nuts?

So, bye.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Let's get ready to Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrramble

What does it say about my life lately that all the people who are marked as ‘available’ on the Office Communicator are IT HelpDesk people?


So, Happy Hanukkah to all y’all out there who celebrate such a thing. I was listening to the commie-hippie-pinko-liberal radio station (NPR) this morning on my way to work, and on it was an interesting story about the holiday and how it’s evolved over the years.

Bottom line – BOTH Christmas and Hanukkah used to be kind of ‘meh’ occasions, until someone decided to bump up the volume with gift-giving and festivus poles around which young people dance clad in robes of baby hair while their elders beat on drums made from the skins of albino bats. Also, CANDLES!

I think I have that right. I might not have been paying very much attention.


So, the holiday season is in full swing. We’ve had the spooky one, the stuffing one, and now the Big Daddy Holidays are upon us, when we crack out the lights, open the champagne, and drive ourselves NUTS trying to make everything ‘perfect’ so the ‘memories’ can be made and everyone will look back on the perfection and forget all about the evil and pettiness and hatred they’re conducted or been exposed to over the past year.

Because, seriously? Nothing chases away the memory of your house burning down quite like twinkly lights. It’s like the bad never happened, right?

Not, I might be full of enough hyperbole to have swallowed my own tail (or is that paraboly? Hmmm), but don’t most of us go whole hog for our chosen mid-winter festival and drive ourselves crazy in the so-doing? I know I used to, but somewhere in the past few years I’ve taken down the crazy a few notches so that it’s possible to actually ENJOY Christmas (my chosen mid-winter festival).

This year, to further continue with the notch taking, it’s quite possible that we’ll celebrate by renovating the kitchen. We are partiers like that. Heck, with a choice between spending gobs of cash to go someplace that might be fun and tearing out the cabinets, flooring, and ceiling, I’m pretty sure most of us would choose the latter. There ain’t no fun like DEMO fun, amirite?

Now, I’m not a Scrooge, nor even a Grinch. I LOVE me some Christmas, and fight to keep the tree up every year for 'just a little bit longer,’ but this year (as in the few previous years) the Things are going to be with their Dad for Christmas and The Biffster and I, while clever and inventive people, don’t find much jolly about sitting around wondering why there isn’t more FAMILY in this most family-oriented of holidays. So, why NOT embark on a huge project to fill the time between eggnog breaks?


Plus which, I'm taking something like 10 days off right around then. The 'use it or lose it' vacation days policy is MAKING me do it. *Snicker* Shoot - it might take us 5 of those days just ot decide on what kind of wall treatment to use, for, sadly, we cannot retain out current cute checkered paper. What would YOU suggest we do for decor in the most-used room in the house? I'm all ears.


I’m off to try to vanquish and Spin Doctors tune from my head. Y’all be good now. Tiff out.