Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Turn

I got a jury summons today.

When I turned 18, I did not register to vote for one reason, I did not want to serve on a jury (at the time, my state picked the jury pool from the voter registration, I'm not sure if they still do or not). The process (which I had, of course, never actually experienced) seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, and the burden of possibly deciding someone's fate was too much for me.

Do you all remember current President Bush's first election victory? I do. I didn't vote in it, but I followed it. I saw and heard of some things happening that really shouldn't have happened. After that, I completed my voter registration. This was really for two reasons. One is that it was time for my voice to be heard. The second was that if I didn't have the right, I'd be out there fighting for it. I believe our voting system is flawed (a vote not for should count against, but it does not), but I will put my two cents in nonetheless.

In a matter of weeks, I got my first jury summons. Time to bite the bullet and just go do it, said I. Besides, it might be fun. I was not picked to actually serve on a jury, and then I was sent home. That was that, duty served. That wasn't so bad. And a part of me was a little disappointed that I didn't get chosen.

So, here it is again, some six years later. I'm ready to go in there in April, hope I get picked, or not as their needs demand. And if I do get picked, I'll do my best.

It is our right, in this country, to present our cases to our peers and have our peers provide unbiased conclusions about what we have to say. If I were on trial for something (which I hope to never be!), I would want that right. It is therefore my duty to do for others what I would want done for me.

All I can say is that people can change as they grow.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm Back

I had some fun, but not as much as I would have liked. There aren't really a whole lot of beginner slopes there, and the first one my group of four (including me) wanted to go down on Saturday was some 2 miles long (the elevation of the mountain is 4848 feet and all trails, beginner or otherwise, went all the way down to the bottom). I panicked at the thought of it and so spent the day practicing on some flat areas. We got a foot of snow on Saturday night and, though I was ready to try that 2-mile slope on Sunday, none of us wanted to be on the (4848 feet to the top) lifts in that awful wind.

At one point on Sunday, when I thought we were all going to hit the slopes anyway, we cleaned off the cars and got more fire wood. Then two of us (which includes me) watched the others drive away. Apparently someone had decided to go to the grocery store in the village to get some real food. Nice that they let the rest of us know. I might have wanted something. But I was still expected to shell out a few bucks for the food that they bought and I didn't eat. And on the way back yesterday, they decided to stop at Burger King without even asking if that is a place where I would eat (it isn't). I don't think my co-worker's sister likes me. Maybe that is why I was more along for the ride than a part of the group.

On the good side, I got some good practice-time in (since it's been two years since I've been on a board at all) and I slept like a rock every night except when someone left a light on. I do regret that I didn't try that 2-mile trail and my $90 lift tickets went unused. Otherwise, it was a nice weekend away.

I don't think I'll go out with them again. The making decisions that effect me without actually consulting me was really annoying. And the three of them are going to Thailand in a couple weeks and that's most of what they talked about. I really wasn't a part of that group. That is not an ideal way to spend one's time, you know?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is it!

Throwing myself at a mountain is imminent. I'll see you on Monday or Tuesday or something!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

You Want to What? Now???

There was a leak in the water pipes, beneath the street, between my home and the neighbor's house. Pipes that were replaced not even a year ago. This leak had been there for some time: a month or more. It got double sanded when we had the ice storm last week.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. That happens every now and then, I've got a lot to do, and prep for my weekend, and hard to sleep with no power. It happens.

Yesterday, I said to myself, "I am going to go to bed early (maybe) and get a good night's sleep!" Going to bed early didn't happen only because I stayed up to watch NCIS.

According to my mother and our neighbors, three big blue trucks showed up around 1330 and started messing with the area around the leak. They took up most of the road to do it in. Around dinner time, they were no where to be found, and the leak was still leaking. That's ok, they were planning to come back and fix it. At 2100! If you remember, owing to my 0415 mornings, 2100 is my bed-time.

Yes, this is when the blue-truck people came back with a big digger and some spot lights and proceeded to fix the pipe. They positioned the lights just so they shined right into my bedroom window. Then they hammered at and dug into the street. BANG! BANG! BANG! The force of this digging caused the house to shake.

I wasn't going to compete with bangs and a shaking house, so I got up and did some work on the computer for a while (new image coming to my website soon™), until about 2230, when I just couldn't take it any more and had to try to sleep.

The light was bright. The rain was coming down. The engines of their equipment idled away. They banged and clanked and dug and did whatever they had to do to fix the leak, fill in the hole, and get out of here. The whole process took four hours. That's right, they finally turned their annoying lights off and took their loud trucks elsewhere at 0100. Then I got to sleep.

My parents didn't have to deal with the light (being in a bedroom on the back of the house), but they were kept awake by the sounds. Who's stupid idea was it to fix that leak when people are trying to sleep on a weeknight?? Oh, we were not happy. So not happy, in fact, that the wonderful water utility got a complaint from everyone in my household and our neighbor. Do it during the day when no one is home and won't miss the water being turned off, when you have light, no rain, and are very unlikely to be keeping people awake. STUPID!!

And soon, I'll try that actual sleeping thing again.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another Year

Happy Birthday, Fox!

I'm glad you had fun on Sunday. That was a great idea and I had fun too! I'm sorry I'll miss the annual game. I'll try not to come back with broken bones!

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Whole Lotta Nothin' Going On

Today was one of those days where it didn't make sense to be at work: banks were closed, USPS was closed. Honestly, the deadlines in my department are all about the payment runs. There were no payment runs today! But we were all expected to be at work. (of course, all our fearless leaders took the day off.)

It was official catch-up day, and I did a fair amount of catching up, so I really don't mind going in. Also, that 50 mile morning commute goes pretty smooth when all the feds are still home in bed.

Other than that, I have nothing to report today. My weekend was tiresome, as usual, my sleep was not enough, and my cats are fuzzy.

This weekend, I will be tumbling down a mountain with a snowboard strapped to my feet. There had better be snow this time. The last time we tried to go out, it rained, and my brand new girly pink snowboard has yet to be used. That's what the weekend is for. Huzzah!

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Welcome to the Year of the Boar!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Date from Hell, with points

First, a bit of background. I consider myself an intelligent woman. University educated, with a fair share of street smarts, common sense, and life experience. If I were to class myself, I'd say middle: opportunities will be presented to me that many may never get. Even though I am in my 20s, others have told me I have a maturity level of someone in their 30s. I am both considerate and responsible. I have the ability (if not the means) to be self-reliant and am very strong-willed. While I know how to have a good time, I also recognize when it is time to be serious.

I try to take care of my body; eat right, exercise regularly, don't smoke. This last one is important, I have a sort of cigarette allergy. I couldn't smoke if I wanted to, it makes me ill to be around smokers.

This will be relevant to the story.

I met this guy, we’ll call him Kit, at the MD Renaissance Festival. He works there like I do, with some of the support staff (game booths and things). I met him out in the parking lot, there were two women who had locked a little dog in the car and headed into the faire. I alerted security (that dog would have been dead by the time they were done, and it's against MD state law). I showed them the vehicle while they were on the radio to stop them at the gate. The women returned to their car and sat inside it for a while. I didn't want to leave for two reasons: one, they saw me at my car and I did not want them to retaliate against it for turning them in and two, I didn't want to walk away and have them just head back to the faire and not deal with the dog.

Kit was in the parking lot working (trying to sell rides to the front gate in a hand-pulled carriage, as part of his job), and stopped to chat with me. Naturally, I was explaining the situation to him, so he waited with me until the women drove away with their dog (understanding my concerns for my car and the dog).

After they left, we went inside and had lunch before I had to go to work. He was very nice. I learned he worked in construction, was younger than me but only by a few years, and was a smoker (but he never smoked in his car). Taking a chance, as someone had recommended I do, and trying to be a good person and give everyone a chance, I gave him my number.

We talked on the phone and at the faire off and on after that (remember the faire is in the Fall). It was approaching Spring, when he asked me if I would give him a boyfriend chance (so to speak). He had promised he would never smoke around me, respecting how I felt and reacted to it. I can deal with that, smoking is a pretty big issue for me but if I'm not around it, I think I'll be ok.

I have a group of friends who get together in the Spring and go to Medieval Times (in costume and everything). I thought that would be the perfect first date, in a group setting so if things don't work out we don't have to be miserable, and invited him to join us. He showed up smelling like cigarettes, but I let that go. I thought it was fun, he behaves pretty well in a crowd of strangers. So we started planning our second, official 'date' date.

The trouble starts here, but we're not at the date yet.

Second date, first official one-on-one date planning commences.

His first suggestion; he wanted me to join him when he visited his brother... in Delaware. This should have been the first alarm, a long road trip is not a good first date setting. (Gents, you may want to take note of this: if you want to take someone out for the first time, an interstate weekend road trip is not a good idea.) I ended up saying I was already busy that weekend he wanted to go (it was not hard to become busy).

I was slightly concerned at this point. I already knew he was on a different level than I; high school education (not so important), slightly lower class (again, not so important), and he had one habit I would have a hard time getting past (really really important). I decided to test him a bit. There was an exhibit of Titanic artifacts at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore around this time, and I really wanted to go see it (the Titanic disaster has interested me for many many years, long before that crappy movie).

Surprisingly, he said he loved MDSC, so going there for that exhibit was a great idea. There's a point in his favor. He said he would pick me up, and we could take the light rail into Baltimore. There's another point, I've never ridden the light rail (New experience = good). He then suggested we could go to Hooters for lunch. There goes a point, and the second alarm. (Here's another note you many want to make: Hooters, unless suggested by her, is not a good place to take her on a first date. I don't care if the wings are good, it's not a good idea.)

We set our date with whatever we would do for lunch still undecided. We were going on Sunday. He gave me a time frame to get started, and I told him to pick me up anytime between 0800 and 0900. I was very firm that I was going to have a late Saturday night and any earlier I would not be ready. So, ask me what happened on Sunday.

I’ll tell you!

It seems to me that a logical person would hear "anytime between 0800 and 0900" and think it was a good idea to shoot for 0830, sometime in the middle. If someone gave me a time frame such as this, that's what I would try to do. I anticipated there was going to be a problem with what time he was coming to get me (based on the time he said he was going to leave), so I tried very hard to be ready early. He arrived at 0745. Remember when I said I wouldn't be ready if he was early? I wasn't, I hadn't had breakfast. Take note: being early can be just as bad as being late. And there's one point against. (I don't really use a point system to evaluate my dates, but the nature of this story makes it funny, as an illustration of all pros and cons, etc, if you follow. By the way, he does get a point for picking me up.)

So, off we go down the road in his truck (forgot to mention, he lives about 35-40 minutes away from me, we've got a long car ride ahead, light rail only runs as far south as his area). He kept asking me what kind of music I listened to in the car. I replied that I don't listen to music in the car. This is mostly true, I really don't, I rely on news and traffic reports because of the distance I go. Maybe I was being too subtle (men, after all, don't get subtlety very often, I'm told), and that's my fault, but I would assume if my date said 'no music' then maybe we should take that long car-ride time and do some getting-to-know-you talking. Again, it seems logical to me. Instead, he took it to mean "you choose what we listen to because I don't have a preference." I then had to endure a very long, awkward car ride with someone who barely said ten words to me, while more awkward commercials played on the radio (one was a true-love finding dating service. Can we say ugh? And there goes another point).

When we got close to his area, he said he needed to run by his house and change. CHANGE?? AS IN CLOTHES??? Yup. See, he'd been out all night at a bar with friends, never went home, never went to bed, NEVER SHOWERED, before coming to get me. One point down.

We got to his house, he invited me in (at least I didn't have to wait in the car), and invited me back to his bedroom. We are sooooo not on a bedroom level. So I just stood awkwardly in the doorway trying to avoid looking at the half-clothed pin-up girls that papered his walls. His father was there, but he didn't introduce us. So I, being raised a certain way, introduced myself. This seemed to catch his father off-guard, a testament to the very different social spheres of our backgrounds. Two more points down, one for the bedroom, one for the lack of introduction.

After his quick hop in the bathroom and wardrobe change, we were back in the car. He picked up his cell phone and called a friend. I only heard one part of the conversation, of course, but based on what I heard, I figured his friend knew he would be awake and wanted a wake up call (that warrants a point, what a nice guy). They chatted briefly about where we were on our timetable. Then, to my surprise, he pulled into a McDonalds and asked me if I wanted anything. Remember when I said I try to eat right? Yeah, I haven't eaten at McDonalds for more than 5 years at this point. We could have worked breakfast into our plans if he had only said something. As it was, we didn't talk about breakfast, he choose to go to McDonalds without first finding out if I ate there. Haven't for 5 years, not about to start, in the interest of being kind, I told him I wasn't hungry. I went that day without breakfast, remember he arrived too early and I didn't have time. There goes another point.

To hide the strangeness of sitting there while he ate, I called my dad and asked him to put my bonsai plant outside. When he was done, we drove across the street to the light rail station. It is now 0845, the sun is blazing down, there is no shade in sight. I sat down while he bought light rail tickets. That's a good point, paying my way on a date. And now we wait....

0845 we arrived at the light rail station. We waited, and waited, and chatted a bit (not much) and waited. He mentioned his friend whom he called to wake up and his fiancé might 'meet us down there.' I took that to mean they were going to be in the area too and would join us for lunch. No problem. Still waiting for the train. At about 0945 (my fair skin is baking in the sun) Kit decided to check on what time the first train runs on Sunday (MDSC, by the way, opens at 1000, we were trying to get there close to opening, but that wasn't super important). Guess what time the first train leaves? Don't worry, I'll tell you. 1100. Minus one point, and I flat out told him that was something he should have found out before we even got started. He laughed and said "because you could have slept longer, right?" Frankly, yes! And had breakfast!

At about 1015, his friends arrive. Now I know what 'meet us down there' meant, he meant to say 'coming with us.' I thought we already did the group thing, is it not now time for the one on one thing? If not, that's ok, but don't you think you should ask your date if friends could come? I probably would have said yes. In this case, I was expecting to spend some time alone with my new boyfriend. And to make it worse, they were engaged, so now I'm faced with a couple on a vastly different relationship level than I was. Hopefully, my date knows that we are not at that level and needs to behave accordingly. And minus one point for the hitchhikers. One of whom, by the way, was busily smoking a cigarette when he walked up. Ugh.

Well, the train isn't coming until 1100, so they decided to pass the time by sitting in the cars listening to a tape of a comic routine (the joke they found the funniest was "I used to be a lifeguard until that little blue kid made me lose my job." We are not amused). Thankfully I didn't have to endure much of that because the train pulled up around 1050 or so. We board, I sat next to a window, my date next to me, the other couple across the aisle. Then, my date decided to introduce us (we’ll call him Marco, his fiancé was Delia). His friend said Kit should have done that when they first walked up, and we all agreed. Minus one point for the botched introduction, but his friends get a point for recognizing it!

On the train, heading to Baltimore, we were discussing which stop to get off on. I turned around to look at the route that was posted above the window, and that very moment that I was turning around, my date attempted to kiss me on the cheek. Since I moved at just the right moment, he managed to get my hair, essentially missing. I pretended not to notice. One more point down, we are so not at a kissing level of any kind.

Next stop, Camden Yards Baltimore.

We get off the train, figure out which way we need to go, and head towards the center. MDSC is like an interactive, science-oriented museum. There is a room with things that you can play with that pertain to physics, a planetarium, a dinosaur area, weather area, workings of the body area, a woman's health exhibit, and the Titanic exhibit, as well as several IMAX shows. It's really quite fun, and I hadn't been there in years. Both of Kit's friends lit up a cigarette on our walk, so I kept my distance and we had to wait outside while they finished them. I turned around to look across the harbor, and my date darted over to pull a drag from his friend. I'm certain he thought I didn't notice. I did. One point down for breaking his promise (remember he had promised he would not smoke around me) and he gets an extra special 'cigarette count' point. Yes, it was one puff, but it counts in this category.

We get inside, stand in line for our tickets. Titanic and IMAX are extra, Kit makes sure his friends know we're getting Titanic passes and I indicate there probably won't be time for an IMAX, so we don't get those. He pays for my tickets, there's a plus point (it should be noted that I did make it a point to bring enough money to cover myself if necessary). You get a little wrist band that shows you paid, and while we were putting them on, he leaned over and kissed me on my head. That point he just got, he just lost. I told him we weren't there yet and he shrugged like he didn't do anything.

It's about 1130, we moved into the dinosaur area, and I look around. Where's my date? Who knows, he went off on his own. I found his friends, who were successfully going through the area together, but he was not nearby. Yup, that cost a point, I think going on a date with someone means being together with them for most of it.

I found him eventually, and we skipped the weather area and moved up to the physics playroom. Again, my date is somewhere. We reconvened around 1230 or so and decided it was time for lunch (remember, no breakfast here). Kit once again suggested Hooters, but Delia was on my side here. This doesn't count as a point because I've already got one for the first Hooters suggestion, and his friend on my side cancels out what I might dock on this one. We ended up eating at the café in the center. Kit pointed out to me that there were salads, he gets a point for that, and he bought my lunch, another point. Good job, two in a row!

After lunch, we go outside so the other couple can have their after meal smoke. Marco asks me if Kit can have a cigarette. Kit looked expectantly excited at me (it should be noted, my date did not bring any with him. This act is not enough to warrant a plus point, because he already promised he would not smoke around me). I'm fighting a losing battle here and I know it, so I simply said "whatever," and I'm sure I was clearly disappointed. Minus one for the smoke, and that's two for cigarettes altogether. Minus another because the three of them stood in front of the door, near the clearly marked "No Smoking Area" sign, remarking on all the cigarette butts around. Just because everyone else ignores the sign (which is there because children pass through those doors), doesn't mean you have to.

We went to the body area next, the boys had a lot of fun with the things that made fart sounds (no surprises there). We were in this section for a long time, again, I was mostly without my date. Just before 1500, we all managed to meet in the astronomy area. The loud speaker said the next planetarium showing would start at three, and the other couple wanted to go to that. The center closes at 1700, and we still had not seen the exhibit I had come all that way to see. I said that's what I wanted to do. Kit said that's what I wanted to do, that's what we'll do. Point to the date! Off we go.

The others were joking while we were in line to enter. I let it pass, but I didn't join in. There's nothing funny about hundreds of people dying because someone made a stupid mistake. Once we entered, I took note that the other couple just breezed right through the exhibit, I knew they were going to the planetarium. No big deal, they were not my date. My date, however, wasn't there either. I was taking my time, I wanted to see this after all. There were 7 rooms in the exhibit and I was reading every word (I only do that if I'm really really interested, by the way). Somewhere in the 5th room, my date said he'd be waiting outside. It told him I would be a while, he said he was just trying to stay awake. He's now just told me that something that interested me was putting him to sleep (yes, I do remember he was up all night). Still, he loses a point for that.

I refused to be rushed, and spent a little more time in the exhibit gift shop than I normally would have. Actually going through that was the best part of my day (it was fascinating, the exhibit was artifacts they had recovered from the wreckage: jewelry, paper money that had been preserved in leather wallets, unopened bottles of champaign, personal affects of passengers) and it was nice to do it at my own pace.

When I was all done and had bought what I wanted from the gift shop, I found my date. There was a little refreshment stand in the lobby, and he had gotten some popcorn and a soda. He offered me some popcorn (it should be noted that there was a designated eating area, but we were not in it). I was playing with a Tamagotchi, so I told him I might in a moment. Then I saw how he was eating it. He was not using his hand to pick up a piece or two and bring them to his mouth, he was using his tongue. When he offered some to me again, I declined, saying I actually wasn't hungry. One point down for the eating behavior. Gross.

We met up with the other two and went to through the women's health exhibit. It was now 1630 or so, the center closes at 1700, it took us 5 hours to go through almost the entire center. Normally I'd call that a day well-spent, but the company one keeps is an important factor.

Time to leave, outside each of them had another cigarette. Down another point, are you keeping track? I moved away and busied myself with my gift shop purchase and my program. When they were done and ready to go, they started walked. Kit said 'eh' and gestured with his head to me. I think he meant to say "Hey Airyn, we're ready to go." Minus a point for lack of English. I could have sat there until he properly addressed me, but I wanted to go home!

During our walk back to the light rail, he offered to hold my jacket for me. I'm sorry, no. He's just been smoking, he's going to get his smoky makes-me-ill scent all over it. I didn't deduct any points for this offer, though he asked 2 or 3 times. He really thought he was being helpful.

At the platform to the train, they had another point-costing cigarette. He was only able to finish half of it (no sympathy here) before the train came. We rode back to the truck where he finished his cigarette. I could not get upwind of it this time, so I spent most of that holding my breath. Point down for making me have to hold by breath.

When he was done with his cigarette and had paid his friend back for the three he borrowed, he once again summoned me with 'eh' and lost another point. On the terribly long drive home, we listened to a CD of his choice, very loudly, and he told me that his friends and he are like that: out to have a good time and not be serious all the time (this was because I was very solemn after seeing the exhibit, it meant something to me and gave me some things to think about). Down one point for the music and one for calling me too serious.

We got home, I said thank you very much, it was fun. He said it was great and call him if we want to do it again. Funny thing, I never heard from him after that. I have a feeling his friends probably told him that I was not one of them, and I'm ok with that. In fact, he gets a point for it, because I didn't have to tell him it wouldn't work out. I did see him at the Renaissance Festival, and had no problem giving him a hug or accepting a friendly kiss on the cheek. Looks like we both were able to silently agree that occasional friends is as far as we would go. And that's a plus, I only had to endure one really awful day.

The end!

Have you been point-counting?

He gets 4 cigarette points (these are blaring negatives! The half he finished and the first puff are half a point each.)

Overall score is negative 14 (11 positive points and 25 negatives, not including the nasty cigarettes). Talk about someone who couldn't do anything right.

I told that story to someone in an online community once, and he said "you have your standards too high!" Honestly, do you think any of the times I took a point away it was not warranted? This was not an issue with standards!

So, I’m going to point out again that I don’t rate my dates on a point system. I never have, I never will, but the retelling of this one made it fun. And it might have been an awful date, but I sure got a good story out of it!

Friday, February 16, 2007

What the-?

I'm more tired than spit! What the heck am I doing still awake?!?!

Romping Denied!

We left the office today, surrounded by what looked like piles of soft white snow. I decided I wanted to romp through it. What fun! I ended up just doing my Legolas impression.

See, what looked like soft white snow was actually hard, concrete-like ice that had no give whatsoever under my weight. It had no give whatsoever under my dad's weight too. Just rain on my parade. Or freeze on my romp. Whatever.

I'm really not coherant to post more than that today. I didn't sleep a wink last night. I have no idea why. Too many thoughts buzzing around my head, I guess. Today was spent in a zombie-like daze.

For those who want to know, my new profile picture --> is of me at my brother's wedding over 2 years ago. Photo by Stu. Thanks Stu!

So, today, it occurred to my sleep deprived brain that you, fair readers, have never heard the Date from Hell story. That's mostly because I started blogging after the Date from Hell. I do not actually believe in hell, in the fire and brimstone sense, but if I did, I imagine it would be like this date.

It was over 2 years ago, and I occasionally reference it among my friends. So, I'll go to bed and get that story up for you tomorrow or Sunday. Trust me, it will be fun! And at least I got a good story out of it!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

No Power = No Post

You're right, I don't have a post for yesterday. Sure, I could put something up (like the long anti-V-day rant I had prepared) and change the post date so no one would be the wiser, but why? See, half an inch of ice means a lot of extra weight on the trees, which means limbs break, which means limbs break over power lines, which means power lines break, which means, you got it, no power.

At 0350 yesterday, the heat when off, the clock went out, and the only sounds were the pelting ice outside and the cracking of branches. We already knew we weren't going to work in this mess, so we plugged a u.p.s. into the TV to check the weather and went back to sleep, around 0430. The power came back on for two seconds and then went out again. That's all she wrote.

No, it's not!

Thankfully, we have a fireplace. We didn't have a whole lot of wood (because someone never took the time to chop the many many logs in the back so we would have wood), but we had a few purchased bundles and some self-burning non-wood logs. We started early in the morning and kept it going well into the night. It actually got to a cold 60+ degrees in the house, near 70 in the room with the fireplace, but it was so cold outside it didn't make much of a difference.

Sometime in the afternoon, we knocked the ice off the cars and my mother and I took a walk to see what the roads looked like (covered in ice). When they weren't covered in ice, they were covered in branches like this.

And here's a lovely shot of the garden lantern in front of our house. This ice was everywhere: encasing signs, trees, cars, the chimney, blades of grass. Everywhere.

Today, the ice has a diamond sparkle to it, glass-like shards fall from the trees and litter the ice-encrusted ground. We didn't go to work today either. Not because of the ice on the roads but because the power didn't come back on until after 2200 last night. None of us slept very well, huddled by the dying, wood-less fire like we were.

Even the cats had a very bad day. Miss Luna would have spent it hiding in my closet if I'd let her (we closed all the doors to try to contain the heat). Callie knew the best place was by the fire, and stayed there most of the day.

There were a few good things to happen during the course of the day. One of our neighbors had an extra indoor gas-powered stove that they let us use. We could cook food! And heat water for tea and coffee! THANK YOU, NEIGHBOR!

The other good thing was that I had a date. Yeah, that's right, a date. It was last minute, and because of that and the weather, we only had time for dinner. But dinner was great. He took me to a nice little place that he knew well. They had power. The restaurant was warm, the wine was red, and the mussels were hot. And he got me home decently close to my bedtime. There was a cute little store attached to the restaurant filled with some random and silly things. And one little thing that I had to buy. Which, by the way, I didn't. So this V-day ended with a very special V-day gift: Smurfette the Witch.

It was a great ending to an otherwise miserable day.

I have to go to work tomorrow, but I should be able to have a hot shower and a good night's sleep tonight.

18+ hours of no power = no fun!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Snow, the Ice, and the Snowy-Ice

Not enough to give me a snow day today (or ice day, as it was), though we probably should have turned around when those big flakes started to fall before we made it to Virginia. I was hoping to leave the office around 1200 or 1300, but it wasn't until 1430 or so that Boss² approached and said to go home. We made it out of the office a mere 45 minutes before my official quitting time.

But, it helped. It only took 2 and a half hours to get home amid the falling balls of ice, putting us here at about the usual time. I'd rather go to work than not anyway. My mother's car was completely encased in ice upon our arrival, a nearly-certain foreshadow of tomorrow morning.

Let's say ice day! I told the people of the office as I was leaving that I predict I'll see them Thursday.

Now, get this. OBC actually offered to put some people up for the night in the nearest hotel across the way, with the contingency that said people would arrive at work on time tomorrow no matter the weather. This is great, and good for them, but I'm really confused as to why I was not asked to volunteer. I live 50 miles away. My department is putting up two people who live 10 minutes away. I only knew they were doing this because other people were talking about it. It was never even an option for me. I guess I'm not that essential (even though I perform an essential task). I would have taken it if they asked, but they'll just have to get through the day without me, because I sure am not driving 50 miles in ice. Oh well!

Let's say ice day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

They Say 10,000 Steps a Day

Do you know how hard it is to walk 10,000 steps a day? Unless you work in an on-your-feet job like retail or medicine or something, you're probably going to take 3000 steps while going about your day. 10,000 steps is what 'they' recommend for staying generally healthy. My average day tends to be 4,000 steps, and I make an effort to take the stairs at work, go to the restroom on a different floor, park further away, things like that. 10,000 is a lot of steps.

We went to the museums again yesterday. I went back to the Natural History Museum to buy more rocks (everyone say yippie with me). "Yippie!" Very good. They had a wondrous orchid exhibit, but we spent most of the time in the gift shops. Then we went next door to the National Art Gallery.

It was a wonderfully long day. And you know what? It makes the 12,440 steps we took seem not so hard.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Messengers

I'm not going to review this film. It was 90 minutes, what can I possibly say about a 90 minute film? I will say that unless you know a little bit of animal symbolism, the title will make no sense to you (psst: it's the crows). There were plot holes too, but again, 90 minutes. The expectation wasn't high to begin with!

I went to work yesterday, and instead of going home, eating lunch, doing my laundry, and maybe taking a nap, I went right to Monty's office and proceeded to spend the rest of the day not getting anything done.

Sometimes, it's really hard to hang out with Monty at all. He's my friend and I value him in that capacity, but he always tends to spend our outings talking about his career plans, his financial situation, and the new sound that the baby made yesterday. Admittedly, those are the things old friends should be talking about when catching up. But it's hard to take it from him. There are several reasons for this.

One is that Monty often starts talking about his personal deadlines as if 20 years later is really tomorrow. I don't need to be reminded that I'm not getting younger, thank you.

He also often speaks in this low, depressed tone, like a part of his life was missing and he doesn't know where it went (that may be just so, he sacrificed a lot of his life when his first son, my godson, was born). But from where I sit, his life looks pretty rosy.

I suppose the truth is that there is a part of me that is envious of what he has. Probably a rather large part of me, really. He has everything I want; a job he enjoys, a house, a spouse, children. It always leaves me very depressed when he talks about how depressed he is. One of these days, I would like to have a conversation where he acknowledges the blessings he has.

I'm a simple person at heart. I don't need fortune and glory. I just want a home of my own, to teach a child the concept of language, and someone by my side on those cold snowy nights.

Be thankful for what you have, you are blessed to have it. Even if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence.

I am thankful for my job, something which I know many are without. I am thankful for my parents, and that they let me continue to live in their home. Even so, I am 100% certain that any self-respecting person does not dream about having my life.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Killing Websites

My nifty website,, is a site that I pay for that uses software from I like Photosite quite a bit, it has given me a place to post photographs and images that I create. I'm limited in its layout, but otherwise, it's an easy tool to put as many images up as I please.

On Thursday, I got an e-mail from Photosite that said there was a critical update to the software that would need to be installed before March 7th. No problem! Start up the program, let the autoupdate do its thing. Then -- ERROR!! Ok, shut it down, try again -- ERROR!! Ok, shut it down, double check firewall permissions, try again - ERROR!! This is the point where we contact tech support.

Support said to check firewall permissions (did that) and if necessary, reinstall from the website over the current version that I have. Simple enough. Reinstall commenced last night. Everything was going great, I reset the firewall permissions, opened up my spiffy newly-installed version of the program and THERE WAS NOTHING THERE! No files, no pictures, no albums to publish, my website was gone. It was still on the web, yes, but my end of the software that updates it was wiped out, which meant that any update I made would in turn clear the website itself.

Panic mode on. I have hundreds of images on that site, and many clever and witty captions. It has been up for nearly two years. It would take me such a long time to update the back-end application to put everything back in place.

There was a function in my software that detected that I had installed over a previous version and had the ability to extract my site information from the host and the previous version of the software, but there was a warning to the effect of it being a tricky process that may not work and could result in my losing everything completely. I held my breath and pushed the sync button. There's so much content, I had to try. And there's so much content, even syncing up would take time. I left the computer to do its thing.

An hour later, it's still going. And my anti-virus program started doing its weekly anti-virus scan during that time, slowing everything down.

Another hour later and the status bar is showing closer to done, but otherwise no change.

I gave it another 30 minutes and went to check on it, holding my breath as I cleared the screensaver. SUCCESS! It WORKED! There was my site, and my saved images, and my settings. I had to play some more with firewall permissions (gah!) but everything was fine. WHEW!

Yesterday, I almost killed my website!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Happy Days, Strange Days

I like getting along with my co-workers. I really do. I have to see these people 5-6 days a week, after all. This morning, WAM excitedly came up to me to tell me there were only 3 tickets in the Remedy queue. This is great! It means we're caught up and that other people can do other things to get even more caught up. When WAM told the other coworker who is often negative, they responded with sarcasm. I don't understand. I think that anyone should be happy that the amount of work they have to do is a little less today. WAM and I were excited to see the queue so low, it's a better service to our clients and customers that way too. That is something to be proud of. Maybe that just means that WAM and I are the 'glass half-full' people of the group.

My mother bought her and I each a book last week. It's a walking fitness program (that came with a 1 mile in-home walking dvd) by Leslie Sansone. Mom saw her on QVC and just chanced upon her book at the B&N last week. It's a six week program, that involves at it's core, a lot of walking in place. Ok, it doesn't sound like much when I put it that way, but I started my six weeks on Monday, and I'm feeling pretty good today. Maybe it's my new exercise program that's uplifted my mood (in addition to the conscious decision I made to do so as well). It's too soon to say if the walking is doing anything (why wouldn't it?) but I feel good about it, and that's enough! I won't give up on my elliptical, by the way. I spent too much money on that thing to not use it! It's similar to walking anyway, so I bet I can incorporate it into my program.

This weekend will see a little bit of overtime and a movie tomorrow, and then it's back into town on Sunday. We're going to hit the Museum of Natural History again (they've got an orchid display and I'm going to buy more rocks) and then next door to the National Gallery of Art, that my mother has been wanting to see for some time. Should be fun!

Here's to a good Friday!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm Spoiled

While my computer was out for repair, I was working on another system. One that had the old, awful CRT monitor. We've got the nice flat panels near company-wide, and that's even what I have at home. It was so hard to work on that system! I couldn't get the resolution to even compare to what I'm used to and everything appeared blurry (though I know for a fact that it was not my eyes making it blurry!).

On the bright side, my computer was all ready and back by 1100. YAY!! And I worked my little fingers off again! 70 jobs completed today. I like this high, I hope it lasts!

I did have an oddly candid conversation with WAM before I left today. WAM wanted to know if I knew if something was wrong with one of our co-workers; the one whom I established has a lot of negativity about them. We were both in agreement that we seemed to have picked up on that energy, that it's probably not conscious, and that it's not personal. I know this person is under a lot of stress at home as well as at work.

We had a meeting to re-delegate our work, since we essentially lost a person and I'm taking over that all-day occupation. I think all of us noticed that our co-worker seemed not all together. But Boss² indicated that all of us were swamped (true) and that the work load is not going to go down (dang) and that we're not allowed to hire more people (shoot). See, but this also means that the bosses know that we're all swamped and we should have a little bit of swing to prioritize and get things completed.

I'm still feeling really good. I'm back doing a rewarding task that I enjoy doing, along with a few not so enjoyable things. And I've got a computer that will work with me again! I'm starting out my mornings choosing to have good days. And so far, so good!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bye Bye Virus!

My office computer picked up a virus some time ago that our expensive, heavy-duty anti-virus software couldn't eliminate. It was a minor annoyance and so left to fester. Well, this week it started to be a hindrance in my productivity, so the system guys came and took the whole computer away. I have a temporary machine to work on tomorrow morning, and by lunch time, I should have a fast, working computer again. Yay! This also gave me the chance to clean out some 3 year old files that I really didn't need to keep. However, I lost the proof that I ever did 120 forms in one day (that's the most I've ever done, and twice as much as I tend to do daily).

I've learned that a lot of the negativity I feel around my job may not be me at all. I mentioned that 2/5 of my group were off yesterday. They were both back today, and I was back to feeling not happy. But I realized, I think it's because these two folks never seem to have a positive thing to say. Are they both projecting on me so much that I too feel unhappy? Maybe. I'll just have to shield more and remember that I enjoy what I'm doing.

By the way, I enjoy what I'm doing. And I did still have a good day. Frustrating computer and all.

The forums are back up. YAY!!

Lost is back on tonight! Well... I can't really yay that, because it's on WAAAYYY too late for me. But that's what the VCR is for!

All is right with my little part of the world.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How Much of Monty's Wazoo

Monty and I are making moving plans (again). He said that the cheap theater we usually go to has new stadium seating. I said that's fine, as long was we don't have to pay out the wazoo for tickets. Monty said he would check tonight and find out how far up his wazoo he'd have to go for tickets.

It's probably best not to ask; I haven't had coffee for two days.

I did have a nice, short, busy as a bee day of work today. I say short because that's what it feels like when you've got so much to do you're out of time before you know it. WAM and I were on our own, 2/5 of our team were out of the office today, and the one I wrote about yesterday was doing the new position stuff. That left just WAM and me to hold down the fort, and do jobs previously done by 5 people. Frankly, we both had a great, productive day. WAM kept on top of Remedy tickets like nobody's business, and I cleared my inbox of forms (adding two or three other tasks in between for both of us).

It felt really good to be doing this work again. It felt really good to have fallen behind and caught up again. It even felt really good that WAM had most of the other stuff under control. I hope we can keep this up, it was actually a pleasant day- and something I had not had in a while.

Maybe it was because I felt good about finishing my application yesterday, and that I felt good about what I was going to do today (even with all the other stuff that I was back-up for). Well, some of you know me, and know I like to be busy, and I hate getting paid for doing nothing, and I really don't like dreading my job every morning. Today was not one of those days.

Today was a good day.

The forums are still down though.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Remember!

I remember what I wanted to talk about! And it's no longer important because I've got something else to talk about! Other than football! And the forums are still down! Wait a minute, that last one was a grrrr.

I first wanted to talk about the weather. We went from one of the warmest January's on record to what is starting out to be one of the coldest February's on record. Who knew? There's more snow in our forecast for this week, though I can't really say more, because the last time they were calling for snow we didn't get any! So, there's snow in our forecast for this week. They say it might be a dusting, or it might be a few inches. Here's hoping! Or not, as you like it. Temperatures are in the single digits, if you want to know.

I've been reevaluating my job situation recently. Of all the jokes I make about my coworkers or some of the people who cross my path or my phone on a daily basis, there really was a time when I liked my job. Even annoying coworkers are tolerable more often than not. Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, the person who I trained to be my back-up (and has been doing that job ever since in my stead) will be moving on to a 4-day trial period of that other position that I talked about applying for but never actually did. This means that I get my preferred task back.

Let me tell you a little something about why I like this task. I've probably talked about it before. The first reason I like it is because I know what needs to be done. I can sit down at my desk in the morning and know exactly what is expected of me. I don't need to be told or instructed, and I start every day knowing what is expected of me. Second is that I found this work very rewarding, as rewarding as a job at OBC can be. Humans make mistakes, and the humans in my department tend to make a lot of them. Unfortunately, these mistakes usually result in someones bill not getting paid; we know this because the check they should be cashing is back in our hands. The department that receives these misdirected and erroneous checks has the task of finding out why they went astray and what we can do to fix it. Once that is done, it is sent over to me (or my counterpart) to do the actual fixing. I know three things when I send those jobs back completed. I know that a check will be sent to the right place, and consequentially, someone's bill will get paid. I know I have corrected an error that therefore improves the integrity of our vast database. And I know that I have brought the error to the proper person's attention so that the person who made it can be coached and corrected. Doing this job, I'm fixing things for a living, things that never should have been broken, but things happen. And while I'm doing this, I'm building a rapport with another department who should work closely with us, but usually do not (and that's the fault of both groups). In its small way, it is a fulfilling task.

And starting tomorrow, it will be mine again! And if my counterpart likes the job, and accepts it if they offer, it will be mine for a long time!

I am a blessed individual. I am healthy, I am active, I have a place to live and food to eat, I have a job that I enjoy on most occasions, and my bills get paid. Sometimes things are never enough, but today, I've been thinking about the little things and about how I can better serve myself and those around me by recognizing that I appreciate them.

What it means is that I am going to apply for another job. One that will be fulfilling beyond what I do now, where I feel I can contribute and it means something. Hopefully where I'm working with people who have similar, more noble goals. It's a hard industry to enter, so I'm told, but I'm going to try. No more details, I haven't finished the application yet! Here is just a start. A place to begin and build and find what works.

So, about that application: one of the questions is about my college GPA. I have no idea! That was six years ago, you want me to remember a 3-digit decimal from six years ago?! Well, I went to the university website, I've gotten an unofficial transcript from there before, but I can't now because I'm no longer a student. The only way for an alum to get a transcript (official only) is to request it by fax or mail. That was on the list of things to do tomorrow, it would delay my application. I didn't really want to do that. So I racked my brain trying to think of where in my home I might have put a copy. My mother was certain we had one, but she also has no idea where. I did a little searching here, a little searching there (anyone who has seen even a part of my home knows that's quite a feat).

Suddenly, I had a thought, and chanced upon a folder filled with my student loan information, under a pile of years-old bills. In this folder, a desk copy of my final transcript! Wahoo!! I really am the Queen of Dig. I can find a six-year-old piece of paper in this house! No more delay!

I just had to share that, and now I'm off to stare at my application and get it submitted in 2000 characters or less (or, was it words?). Wish me luck, and anything else you can spare, gentle readers, because I am totally going to need it.

Well, Drat

The Bears started out so well! We went to bed in confidence! But nooooooo! I'm not an American Football player, but come on! How can you take such a fabulous start and lose?? Baltimorians and Marylanders everywhere are very disappointed in you, Bears. That just means you'd better worry when next you match up with the Ravens or the 'Skins.

Ok, I don't really have any faith that the 'Skins can defend our honor lost to Colts and Bears, so it's all up to the gents in purple and black. Make them pay for letting them win!

Is it time to go home yet?

Are my forums back up yet?? Really, Willow and Glen, are you listening to me?? I'm blogging about football. Football! And it's not even real football, it's sissified rugby. Oh, I'm in bad, bad shape....

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brunch, Hats, and Holy Smokes - It's Cold!

For those of you who live near coastal waters, or really large bodies of water, have you ever noticed that the Winter is always colder by the water? Well, shoot! Today was COLD! But we walked the mile or so to Annapolis for brunch anyway. (I'm going to note here that I don't live a mile from Annapolis, but some friends do!)

My favorite hat shop was having a big winter sale, and I was able to get the hat I was eyeing a month ago at 50% off, $5 less than last month's sale price. WooHoo! Like I need another hat....

That's about all that can be said for today. We came home, took a nap, watched a movie, and are now going to bed hoping the Bears kick some Non-Baltimore Colt bum!

See, I don't care a lick about American Football. But I went to college in Baltimore, I want the Bears to win on principal! Everyone knows the Colts belong in Baltimore. They need to lose and give us back our name!

There, that's my piece. I've said it. Good night.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Death and Shopping

I went to a funeral with my mother today. It was for the father of one of her coworkers. We didn't stay long (I'm about as fond of funerals as I am of weddings and baby showers, especially open caskets like this one was. There is just something unnerving to me about seeing a body without an aura), and then headed off to spend some money.

Shopping was clothes and books and a Lebanese Taverna for lunch.

Basically, not much happened today. I did get some time in the house to myself to sit around wondering what to do with myself from the lack of GTW forums, and I got started on the gem tree I'm making for a friend of a friend's son. So far, the idea in my head might actually work. That's always a good thing!

By the way, if anyone is reading this and happens to have a brochure from the Somewear Beyond Coin Mint (I know they sell at MD RenFest, but I'm not sure where else) please shoot me an e-mail (I know it's linked to my site somewhere). I am in need of the description from one of the coins and I can't for the life of me find one of the 50 copies of the brochure I've bought over the years. Augh!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Remember Doug

And his soon to be infamous "because customers are stupid" line? Doug, once again, you were right.

One of my coworkers is out of the office right now. One of this person's jobs is to review all the large payments that are submitted to us. A large payment, by the way, is $10,000 or more. We double-review these requests because that's a lot of money, and our payment guarantee will only cover $10,000 of it. So, while this coworker is out of the office, yours truly has to do the large payment research.

Usually, large payment research is non-eventful. We look for previous payments made, payment method (as in check or electronic), and make sure the address where we are sending checks matches the address given. We don't question why people would want to send $20,000 to their gas company, just to verify the account and address information is correct.

Today, a $25,000 payment came up for me to research. This was a payment to an investment account at a well-known investment company that has account numbers that are eight digits in length. Our brilliant customer only gave us three digits, proceeded by five X's. And the brilliant customer didn't give a complete phone number for the company (who wouldn't give me the account number anyway). I contacted the customer (I'll use the pharmacy's shorthand for customer: cx) and explained that we need the full account number. Cx insisted that the company could accept the payment this way, and told me to change the X's to 1's if they had to be numbers. I said I'd do it, but had to inform cx that if something went wrong (like the check never made it, it was put into the wrong account, or someone else managed to cash it) that every last one of those $25,000 would not be covered by our payment guarantee because cx did not give us the right account number. Well, cx got super angry at this and started yelling at me, then finally stated that they would find a different bank.

Apparently, doing my best to insure those $25,000 goes to the right place with as little delay and chance for mistake as possible made this person very angry. Customers are stupid.

What did I end up doing with the payment, you ask? I deleted it, of course! If you're not going to give me the right information and then get rude and mean for no reason, I'm not going to do you any favors. Those $25,000 got put back in Cx's account and that check did not get sent. So there. Stupid customer.

And I've had to do work all day because my favorite forums was down because they're moving to a new host or something. Blast you, Goldentrees! You're supposed to keep me occupied and not doing work! And on a Friday!! Augh!

P.S. Happy Imbolc!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Coming

The one day of the year that I loathe above all others.

So, does anyone know what happened to January? Maybe it was trying too hard to be April. As long as April doesn't try to be January, I'm ok with that.

No word on our impending doom (aka, snow storm) as of yet. It's kind of silly, we get frequent enough Winter weather, it's silly that people don't know how to drive in it. One flake and everyone panics. Of course, there are primarily politicians and feds here. It takes a flake to know a flake, maybe? Yeah... that explains a lot.

Speaking of politics, do you all remember your American history classes in grade school, and the term "no taxation without representation" from the mid 1700's? Did you know that the non-flakes living in Washington DC (and even the flakes for that matter) pay their taxes like good little citizens but don't have a voting representative in Congress? This has been something DC has been fighting for years. Recently, they were talking about giving their representative (they do have one, she just can't vote) a vote in one of the committees, but that DC vote will only count if it is not a tiebreaker. Talk about crap! I support DC representative voting rights! My representative (who happens to be the #2 guy in the house right now) works for me, and I know this because I interned for them. What's the point of having someone in there if they can't do anything? One of the reasons why so many people sometimes don't like how things are run around here.

You know Airyn is bored out of her skull when she starts talking random politics! Maybe work will have some interest again soon.