Friday, February 29, 2008

The Verdict

The price of a college education goes beyond everything they teach you there, even more than the impossibility of finding a job in your obscure field of study. It means fifteen or more years in debt up to your eyeballs and it means being unable to stand on your own merits when attempting to borrow a Great Big Wad of Cash™.

"Oh, yes, everything is perfect. Your reference checks out, your background is flawless, your credit score is unbelievably excellent, your track record with your creditors is superb. We'd be happy to give you a GBWC™, if it wasn't for those seven years you have left on that pesky student loan - when compared to the half of your state's gross median income that you take home (before taxes) every year."

And there's the non-obscure short of it: even with only seven more years to pay on my student loan, my debt to income ratio is too great, and they just can't justify giving me that GBWC™ that I need to buy my house.

That is, unless I have a co-signer.

The truth is that all is not lost. But it still feels like a blow to the gut, and I still feel like damning my damn damnable desire to be the only person in my damn family to graduate from a damn university. An accomplishment that means nothing to me now, aside from that grim reaper-like debt. Everything else is good enough, just not that.

It is a slap in the face: that my attempt to break free of my abominable dependance on my parents requires one of them pinch-hitting for me. Some would call that irony.

Mom was undaunted, "She said one of her guys said 'if you have a co-signer, you have a loan.' I don't know what my credit score is, but Daddy's is good. He'll do it." A pause, "Won't you?"

Dad raised an eyebrow, "What exactly does being a co-signer mean?"

In my understanding, "I means they can come after you if I default on my loan." A pause, "How much do you trust me not to default on my loan?"

Mom again, "Oh, you're not going to do that. You're prepared to eat hot dogs!"

I appreciate her joke, it's nothing less than what I've been saying, "No, no. Ramen noodles! Ten cents a block, baby!" Joking aside, I'm not sure mom understood why I wasn't exactly jumping for joy.

It's only because it would have been really nice to do this on my own. But, in all honesty, I'm not too proud. If the road to my independence from my parents means that dad has to hold my hand for awhile, so be it. I know I don't make a lot of money, and I know I've got Sallie Mae behind me with torches and pitch forks if I default on their loan. Needing an extra hand (with pen, ready to sign) is just one of those things. Still, I'm disappointed that otherwise stellar credentials don't count in the real world.

So, I placed a call to Monty, who can give me all the co-signing details so I can accurately explain them to dad and hopefully dissolve whatever reservations he might have. Then, I get to call the sales lady tomorrow morning and happily exclaim, "I have a co-signer! What's my rate going to be?" Dad's signature or not, the affordability of the loan really comes down to that rate. Here's hoping.

"On my planet, hope really does spring obnoxiously and stubbornly eternal."
~ Sara Susannah Katz

Makes Me Want My Game

I needed some mostly fast-paced music to background my early morning overtime today. I picked my rather vast playlist of Final Fantasy mp3's (128 tracks, actually). Most of that is fast-paced gaming music; that keeps me working at a good speed. Thankfully, I'm doing work that I don't have to really think about.

Among those 128 tracks is the complete soundtrack to Final Fantasy IV (it was released as Final Fantasy II in the US, who remembers SNES?), with songs in game order. Listening to it is almost like re-experiencing the game. I just got to the grand finale song; and I almost feel like I did when my brother and I first beat the game. We had just won an epic game that took more than a full twenty-four hour day to play (over several days, of course)! This was momentous for my brother and I and, even though this was not a two player game, it was a triumph for both of us (but especially for me, as this had the honor of being the first game that I beat before my brother did). I say it was a triumph for both of us because we gamed together. If he was playing, I was watching. If I was playing, he was watching. I suppose both of us have that unique ability to enjoy watching an entertaining game as much as playing it.

A few games later, we got our hands on a game called Secret of Mana. This was a fabulous RPG, compounded by the fact that the two of us could manipulate the three characters together. The only thing better than watching my brother play a game is playing with him. This was a game that we truly played and beat together. One day, I'll find the soundtrack to that and relive that gaming triumph via my mp3 player too.

This ability to enjoy watching my brother play (and vice versa) transferred into EverQuest too, interspersed with being able to play together while I was at college. At least, until that glorious day when we got high speed cable internet and could finally play together all the time. EverQuest isn't the kind of game you can beat, but we had momentous in-game occasions nonetheless.

Sometimes, I miss that I don't game with my brother anymore. (I don't game much anymore at all, it's even been some time since I logged into Guild Wars.) I've long been a believer of the educational power of video games. They can teach hand-eye coordination, problem solving, strategy, careful planning, improve reflexes, and, perhaps most importantly, provide valuable sibling bonding time.

Really, more than missing gaming time with my brother, I find myself just missing my brother. Neither of us makes the three hour, two hundred mile trip to see each other very often.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Know There's Something Wrong With Me

Ah, WAM. WAM is like my best friend. She tells me everything that's going on in her life.

WAM likes to talk about her boyfriend. This was someone she's known from high school. They reconnected at their reunion last fall, and she's been telling me how he loves her and is going to move down here (from Ohio) and is going to marry her. He even made plans to visit in December, but never actually showed up because he was "testing" her. On Friday, she told me that her mother strongly objects to him.

She's never actually wanted my advice with regards to this, so I've learned to just listen. She'll take the advice of the psychic she talks to almost daily during her lunch break, though.

Anyway, WAM came up to me on Monday morning so that I could have the honor of being the first person to see her ring. It is very pretty. Knowing that bf lives in Ohio, I asked how he got it to her (did he visit over the weekend, ship it to her with some flowers, what?). Then she told me that the ring is actually her mother's ring, and she had given it to WAM to wear until her bf could actually come down and give her a real ring. The version of the story that I got didn't actually involve him at all. Apparently, WAM has thought better of circulating the truth and has taken to telling people that he had called her mother and asked directly for the ring (remember, mother doesn't like him).

As the story goes, he is supposed to come down this weekend. They don't want a ceremony and instead want to get married by a JP on Monday. Then, he will have to go back to Ohio on Tuesday for a fortnight or so, and then he'll be able to move down here, where they will find an apartment and live happily ever after.

I know WAM is annoying most times and fills my days with fantastical stories all other times, but that doesn't mean I want to watch her set herself up for stupendous disappointment, and then a messy legal entanglement. She doesn't tell me because she wants my advice. So I can only hope she knows what she's doing, and am more than capable to let her stumble all over this if it should go that way.

Now, if WAM's story is true, crazy as it may seem, then I have confirmed there is something wrong with me. If WAM; crazy, anti-reality WAM, can (while living with mother) get a boyfriend, I should have no problem. Maybe I need to rethink that whole convent thing that I was so set on when I was younger.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Need an Overtime Song

It's a little strange; I've been working extremely slowly all day, but when overtime got here, I found some new energy. Maybe part of it has to do with WAM.

On Friday, WAM came up to me with determination to tell me there was no more overtime. In actuality, there's plenty of overtime available, I learned that earlier in the week. I just told her I was working on something different and that I hadn't heard to stop doing it. She insisted that she spoke to the supervisor of the group that she was helping out and was told they were all caught up (I knew with certainty that was not true). I repeated, I was doing work for Adolf and Boss², not this other supervisor. It must only mean that the overtime project she was working on was done. No, no. It means there is no more overtime.

I learned from Pat that what it meant was that WAM didn't get enough done to justify being paid overtime, so they told her there was no more (insert: "for you"). I've still got plenty to do!

So, I think I'm working so hard to prove that I am worthy of the extra pay, so they'll keep me on it. Makes sense, right?

And the phone just rang with dad telling me it's time to go (he had a late meeting). Outta here!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Strange How Things Come and Go

I've been drawing quite a lot lately, and I'm not just talking about the sordid little comic I've been posting when I have nothing else to say. I used to doodle all the time. I imagine very few people didn't, actually. I have kept pages of class notes because of some nifty doodle that I drew on them. I recently found a pile of those pages, along with some old sketch books, filled with smudges drawings and covered in the graphite dust of a decade and a half of age.

When those sketch books were new, Kaliis and I were making a comic. It was quite an elaborate fantasy world we thought up, with one main story and a plethora of spin-offs, filled with races of new, fantastic creatures and spins on easily recognizable ones. Truly, I haven't done any real drawing since. (It should be obvious that our comic world didn't get far past a few issues and stories. Never published, of course. And she was, by leaps and bounds, a far better artist than I.)

Sure, I have my expensive 3D design programs, and I love throwing things together on them, but few things compare with scratching a pencil across a piece of paper and seeing something wonderful emerge. I bet that's something even more special for an actual artist who has some talent. But, it's fun to do and it passes the time and I don't have to be sitting at a computer to create something, the fact that I'm any good at it is irrelevant to what it can do for the psyche.

During the course of my morning, I was hit by a realization with regards to my writing; something I had been doing but didn't know there was a word for it. This led me to want to draw it out, which I admit I have yet to do. See, I only have computer paper at my disposal, and I'd really rather hammer out this idea with one of my smoky sketch books.

I'm not a drawing artist in the slightest, but it's quite strange that I'm searching for occasion to draw at the moment.

Oh, and among the recently uncovered pages of class notes with doodles on them, I also found three out of the for Origami books that my mother had bought for my brother and I when we were children. Three of the four books that turned me into a paper folder! My room is a gold mine!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Time to Play

Fox likes to use his birthday weekends to sit around and play some board games. These are usually complex board games that require quite a bit of time for four or five people to play. It's fun to have a time to do this. Really, how often do you get a chance to sit around with some epic board game that you've never heard of?

On Saturday, there were five of us and we played a game called A Game of Thrones. I've been told it's based off a series of books. Four of us played one mini round while we waited for Fae to get off of work, which helped me get a feel for the game as everyone else has played it at least once before. It's a very complex game with lots of things going on. Some of the cards and dynamics are very confusing and required several explanations for several of us. Fox's friend won both the mini game and the big one when we were all there (and he only won because it was 0100 by then and we wanted sleep!). I didn't think too much of this game while playing, but it is actually rather fun. Once you understand what's going on.

We got a late start on Sunday, so we decided to play a somewhat shorter game called Kingmaker. I liked this game when we played it a few years ago (probably also because I won), and I do still like the game, but I just couldn't get myself in any kind of position to be much of a contender for anything. Part of it was choices I made early on, part of it was the luck of the draw. Fae won that game (which we had to call early anyway because of how early most of us have to get moving tomorrow).

One day, I'd like to bring one of my games that I picked up in London, Outrage. I've only played it a couple times so we'd all be at a mostly even start. It might be fun some time.

With that, I'm going to bed!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

See Ya Tomorrow

I'm spending the weekend with Fox and Fae for his big birthday bash (or something like that). I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Too Beat to Blog

I'll just have to catch you all up later!

Full Snow Moon

I hope everyone had a fabulous Esbat! This is called the Snow Moon by many native tribes from the North and East. This is because the heaviest snowfalls tend to occur around this time. Tribes from regions that receive less snow call it the Hunger Moon, for the scarcity of food in the winter months.

I took two days during the three-day reign of the full moon to complete my spell work. In anticipation of closing on a new dwelling next month, I created a charm bag that will serve as an amulet for protection, peace, and a little bit of prosperity.

Sometimes, it's strange how things work out. I couldn't find the material I wanted to use to craft the bag and, from what I did have, I picked the wrong color. This bag will find a prominent place in my new dwelling, so I did not worry about natural fiber. Like the one I made for my coworker, I wanted a brown bag (the color for homes) with blue thread (a color of tranquility). I ended up picking not the brown deer suede, but the burgundy deer suede. This was simply due to the dim lights in the room. I also managed to not get blue thread, but a light gray thread, also probably from the lighting. Halfway through my sewing, I realized the colors I was working with and, right away, I also realize how perfect they were. The siding on my new home is gray, and the shutters are a shade of burgundy. Completely by accident, I chose material that was even more perfect than what I had intended. I used a brown hemp cord for the drawstring and a heavy brown glass bead to keep it tight. I began sewing just as the eclipse was starting on the 20th.

When my bag was complete, I added my stones. There is: a snowflake obsidian for peace and protection; a yellow tiger eye for protection, prosperity, and a little bit of courage (the courage is needed because so much of this change in living arrangements is something very new for me); an amethyst point for peace and calming fears; a carnelian for protection and calm; a green aventurine for prosperity; a citrine for calming fears and promoting peaceful sleep; a hematite to keep me grounded; a clear quartz to keep all the energies clean and strong; and one special stone that I knew I wanted to add before I knew why, a lovely piece of sodalite that's good for inner peace.

After the stones, I added the herbs: red rose petals for protection and to fill my home with love; rosemary for protection, purification, and peaceful sleep; sage for protection and cleansing; and a very special pinch of nepeta. The last herb, while good for it's calming energies, is also known as catnip, and I added it to try to encourage some calm and peace between my two cats.

I also had some special things to add to this bag for my new home. The first was ash from my Yule log to bring the happiness from my previous home to my new one. I then added the candle stubs from the success and prosperity spell I had finished with the previous esbat. After all, that entire working was with this new change in abode in mind. Like my coworker's bag, I added a pinch of ash from the anti-fire charm that my brother and I crafted years ago. The last piece was something I had never before had occasion to use. Several years ago, a friend of mine sent me some small branches from her tree outside. This tree was some kind of pine on the side of her driveway that had been struck by lightening some years before. The strike left half of the tree dead, and the other half still thriving as if nothing happened. She had respectfully taken some branches from the dead side; wood that has been struck by lightening is very magickal. For one thing, it serves as a protection from lightening. I added a few bits of this wood to my bag for its protective qualities.

The bag was completed and filled as the moon entered totality. I hung it from my bedroom window, where the shrouded light of the eclipsed moon cleansed it and its contents from any energies they might have picked up (and everything picks up energies). I then placed the bag in an altar box, safe and clean, to wait for the following night.

Last night, with the moon still considered full, I performed the actual working. Casting my circle and calling the quarters, I asked the Lord and Lady to bless my dwelling (wherever it may be) and I dedicated my charm to protecting it. At the conclusion, I hung it back in the window to charge with the light of the full, un-eclipsed moon. This morning, I removed the charm and put it back in the altar box where it will stay until I move next month. And I already have a plan for my first Esbat in my new home.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nothing is Normal About This

Because I'm buying a manufactured home, the whole process is treated a little differently. With regular mortgages, the first payment is due the first of a month, thirty days after closing. So, if one were to move in on the 30th of June, the first mortgage payment would not be due until August 1st. According to Pat, who also has a manufactured home, the first payment is due the first of the next month after closing. So, he moved in on something like the 28th of June, and had to make his mortgage and rent payment on the first of July.

It's a little crazy, because they must know that you've just spent every penny of your savings on the down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses. I have it planned out perfectly. The first paycheck of the month will go to the next month's mortgage payment, and the second paycheck will go to the next month's ground rent. For example, the first check I get in April will pay May's mortgage, and the second check I get in April will pay May's rent. However, I'm moving in on March 14th, a non-pay week (the first paycheck of March is covering moving costs). If I have to start making my payments in April, I'll only have the second paycheck of March to do it on (which is enough to cover mortgage or rent, not both). Everybody following here?

I don't have it confirmed that my first payment will be due in April, but in anticipation of this, I am working overtime like a mad fool. Well, as much as I can, anyway. I am so thankful to Adolf and Boss² for even having it available right now. As it seems, there's a lot of work to do, so it should last a while too. This means I should be able to work enough to make enough to cover all of those sudden expenses and my first mortgage. The only drawback to this is that I'm here working and not at home cleaning and packing. And other activities take me away from cleaning and packing on weekends. Timing isn't really in my favor with regards to that. Every thing will work out, because it has to. I'll know what it's like to sleep again someday too!

I hope everyone who could got the chance to view the lovely eclipse last night, or to at least feel its energy if it was blocked from your view!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Special Things

If you're on my side of the pond, don't forget to check out tonight's total lunar eclipse! You can use NASA's eclipse page to help plan your viewing for your time zone.

Fox, I planned this special just for your birthday. You can thank me later.

Happy birthday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Only Because You Asked So Nice Again

Just for you, J. Don't expect this all the time.

How Did You Fare?

I hope everyone got through this period of Mercury retrograde without a scratch (as it were). I hope you found time for some nice quiet reflection and got some things finished or worked on.

I will speak more on this month's full moon later; however, I wanted to make sure everyone is prepared. Tomorrow, February 20th, will see a total lunar eclipse. The entire eclipse will be visible to South America and most of North America (for you West coast folks, the moon will rise in eclipse), and even some of Europe and Africa.

Magickally, an eclipsed moon is a contradiction. At the time we should be celebrating the fullness of the Mother, we see her shrouded like the Crone. It is a powerful and sacred energy. Much like the time of Mercury in retrograde, it is a good time for inner reflection, or for spellwork that involves protection, calming, and guidance. Remember that the moon is full for three days. If you really need something, like prosperity or success, you can work that on the day following the eclipse.

Have a look at NASA's Eclipse Page for some more information and specific times. If you are in the right area, enjoy the view!

Monday, February 18, 2008


I'm mentally checking the things that I don't have to hang on to when I move. There's quite a lot of clothes and shoes, of course. And also much of my stuffed animals. I even have some of my doll collection that I don't need to keep.

Then there are nicks and knacks that won't be coming with me either. Sometimes, it's quite amazing how much clutter can be accumulated. I don't need all of that.

While I haven't done any major letting go of stuff yet (aside from clothes and shoes), I'm pretty proud of myself that I can recognize what doesn't need to be kept and I'm sure I can be rid of it when the time comes. My house will only have so much room, after all.

I would like to build some shelves around the top of my two bedrooms for my dolls. That's the collection that will be downsized the least (even so, there are a few of these on my "no need to keep" list). There's only a handful of dolls that I want to add to my collection too. So, for all intents and purposes, two to five more dolls and I will consider myself done with that collection. It's healthy to stop somewhere, right?

There is much to do in the less-than-month before I settle on my house. I'll be filling every free moment with some sort of preparation. Be it cleaning what I've got, or painting a wooden key rack like I did last night. It hasn't really hit yet, though. Probably not until I make that first mortgage payment.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Time to Get Creative

There's a little paint-your-own-pottery store near us. When I first saw it, about a year ago, I thought that would be something really fun for Fae and I to do. Fae finally got a weekend off, so we headed on down. They were out of a lot of pieces that we wanted to paint, but we were able to find some nice things. I got a shallow bowl and painted a cherry blossom tree on it. Fae got a little round box (can a box be round?) and used tracing and stamps to put a cute little fairy on it. They need to be fired and glazed, and we'll be able to pick them up not before Saturday. We're already plotting what we will do next time. What fun!

That's really all I can say about my day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Because I Know You Want to See It

Hello, gentle blog readers! I slaved all morning to set up a new photo album for you that contains all the pictures of my house that I took yesterday. Yes, I could have taken more pictures. And yes, I missed the second bedroom. And yes, the pictures make it out to be a lot smaller than it really is. But, the major work is done (as I've said), and this is what the place looks like before I fill it with my stuff and make it my own. I'm still mentally checking where things will go.

So, head on over to my website and take a look at my little tour!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm On My Way

From misery to happiness today.
I'm on my way to what I want from this world.

I put pen to paper and signed a contract on a home with wheels that's located fifty-one miles from my office. My mother came with me for support and to help me remember questions I may forget. She promised a 15% down payment, a total of which I am just a little shy. But, she told me on the way home that, if I come up with 8% of that (and I'm not too far off, really), my parents will provide the remainder, and an extra chunk of change to help me with furniture. I really love my parents.

But, I still have to be approved for the loan, and we're still hoping I can get a decent deal out of that. I got a chance to talk with Monty over lunch today, and he was able to prepare me for them to initially quote 9% on the loan. That's a little high, and I'm sure my credit report will reflect well on me, but I wasn't surprised when she said that. I still need to get approved for the loan and the community. I'm not really concerned there. Just the paperwork!

I did get pictures this time, maybe I'll get them up for you tomorrow. You'll have to be content with this little shot of the front of my house that I took when we first saw it. There's still a handful of projects left to do, but the new floors and countertops really make it look nice.

I really adore this little place. I'm ready to get out. I know I'll be strapped for cash and probably experience more than a few lonely nights, but it's really time. And it's happening!

Impromptu Simple Candle Spell

I love simple candle spells. If you need to do a little magic, light a candle (of course, it's more involved than that).

Today, I had occasion and need for a simple spell. Even though Mercury is still in retrograde, all other conditions lined up perfectly. The first is that the moon is waxing, a perfect time for calling something to you. The second is that it is morning, the day is just getting started, yet another perfect time for calling something to you. The third is that I ordered early enough so that the right supplies would be here when I needed them. And the time to work on this need presented itself.

I am looking to change my residence. Without going too much into detail, this is something that I desperately need. My current living arrangement, while allowing quite a bit of freedom, is choking me in other ways. I started the ball rolling in December. This afternoon, I have an appointment to see the dwelling I've been considering, and possibly put a contract on it.

I took a brown candle, brown being the color of homes, and placed it in a sun-shaped pewter holder. With my right index finger, I carved a little house into the wax. I then filled myself with my need and charged my candle with it. I gave it some Reiki for that extra push, and set it down in front of the fireplace in the South wall. I cast my circle and called on the goddess Hestia, goddess of the hearth and the eternal flame. I told the goddess of my need and my desire and lit the candle. I meditated before it, reflecting on what I need to happen this afternoon, opened my circle, and left the candle to burn down, releasing the energy to work towards my goal.

And this goal has been on my mind for years, but I had every time prior to now hit a complete and utter dead-end. There are no more dead ends. This is the final option, and it is going to go in my favor. I need it to, and I know the goddess will help me make it happen.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Theme Song

Where have all good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me
Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach
Like a fire in my blood

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Serious Design Flaw

There is an interchange that is fondly called the Mixing Bowl. It is the point where I95 splits off from I495, the Capital Beltway, and turns south. This intersection also has connections to and from 395. Before they started construction (years ago), all connecting roads would back up for miles and hours every day of the week. Some road planner decided that long, high, flyover ramps was the solution. And they did break up the constant traffic around the Mixing Bowl.

The problem with long, high, flyover ramps is that they are high up in the air. When the ice started falling yesterday afternoon, the ramps started freezing. Then the cars started slipping. Then they started colliding. Then they had to close down those long, high, flyover ramps because there was no getting over the ice, or through the accidents already there. My dad and I were so very very glad that we don't have to go that way, we found a road that bypasses that intersection entirely. So glad we were not any of those poor people who had to sit in the falling ice on the frozen ramps that were closed for nine hours. And all this was with just a thin sheet of ice, maybe an eighth of an inch thick. Whoever designed that new Mixing Bowl turned it into a Frozen Dinner.

Dad and I drive a parkway that runs parallel to the Beltway, and bypass the traffic that usually plagues the Beltway. Before even making it halfway down the parkway in the ice, we passed ten accidents. The radio was telling people to stay at work. Too late! After two and a half hours (really not bad, considering the weather), we made it to our polling place, cast our votes, and made it home.

Now, the plan was for dad to get up in the wee hours of the morning and go in to work at 0200. Then mom has her usual time and is out the door by the time my alarm is going off at 0415. I was expecting to wake up to an empty house. Of course, that's not what happened! The call that woke us all up at 2330 last night was to tell dad that they were cancelling the early morning update because of the still-falling ice. Mom didn't go into work for the same reason, deciding it would be best to wait a few hours to see if the ice would change to rain and let the salt trucks do their thing. Yes, the roads were slick, but I still managed to get here on time. Go me!

This is nothing like the ice storm we had a year ago. The trees are coating in a very thin layer of ice that glows blue in the light of the stormy dawn. The flag hangs limp and ice-encrusted. Hopefully, it will change to rain or stop altogether so we can all get home. Hopefully it will not turn into snow in the night and make tomorrow morning just as yucky.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Coldest Day on Record

So far this year, that is.

Yesterday, I awoke to the mumbled sounds of my parents talking about something. Dad usually gets up after me, and I usually get up a good ten minutes after my mother leaves the house, except on weekends, of course! I knew it was Monday. I couldn't quite make out what they were saying. I heard mom very muffled with dad's occasional, loud "yep" interjections. It was still a good forty-five minutes before my alarm was going to go off, so I stayed in bed, wondering what the fuss was about but unwilling to investigate just yet.

Then, I started to notice that my face and shoulders were cold. Then, I realized that I hadn't heard the heat come on in a while. The power wasn't out, but it was definitely cold in my room (it was all warm and toasty in the covers). Well, there's the problem! The strong, window-rattling wind from the night before might have knocked out the power at one point and, though it was back, the heat pump was not pumping heat.

After the alarm did go off, I scrambled out of bed into the cold room, into the cold work-out clothes, and into a cold hoodie. The thermometer on my closet pointed defiantly at 60°. Burr! I was most concerned about my ectothermic anoles, but I knew the light would come on eventually and give them some warmth, and it was still quite humid in their little home.

Thankfully, when I got home, the fan had been fixed and heat was pumping again, whatever the problem was. I hope that doesn't happen again! But, on the bright side, we did still have power. So, if the heat is going to go away, at least there are still space heaters.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I Even Knew Better

Since we didn't get to do our weekly shopping yesterday, we did that today, after stopping for the best brunch around at a fabulous Irish place on the way to Annapolis. After eating, I developed a yucky headache that lingered through shopping, driving home, and taking a near two hour nap. I had work to do, I didn't need a headache!

When I woke up from my nap to the sounds of fierce wind rattling my windows, I realized the reason for my headache. I had three cups of decaf coffee and a little apple juice with breakfast and that's it. My head needed water! So, I drank one, took an Excedrine (I didn't have a migraine, mind you, dear readers, just a headache), drank some more water, and pushed through to start my cleaning anyway. My mom appeared with some yummy green tea and we had some stir fried greens for dinner, and then my headache started to go away. Perfect, just in time to take out the bag-o-trash and hang up all my Faire garb. There's progress, but I still have a lot to do to make me and my many possessions ready for relocating.

During brunch, I thought to myself that it would be a good idea to have some water. Instead, I had some more coffee (oh, it was so very good!). Yeah, I knew better. I even thought about it and didn't do it. Serves me right, I suppose. But, you know, if it wasn't for my change in diet that took migraines out of my life, that would have been one of those times where it hurt so much that I couldn't even drink to take care of what caused it in the first place. A little reminder to keep sticking to my diet! And to drink some water.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Last Day of Yoga

It was a non-stop day altogether. The morning involved the weekly shopping (crickets, things, and food, not all at the same store!). We spent so long in Target that we only had time to pick up the things my grandmother wanted at the grocery store so that we'd still be able to get home, put the frozen stuff away, and get to the yoga class on time. After class, mom took the groceries to her mother while I cleaned the cricket cage, did some laundry, and fed the dragons. (I so enjoy watching them hunt!) Then dad and I went to dinner, because the French toast I had in the morning had long since worn off, and here we are.

While I love that my days are so busy, it'd be nice to be able to sit around once in a while. Even so, I'm still prepping to move, and that is a very involved thing. Tomorrow, when we might otherwise have time to sit around, I plan to do more preparations. Moving the horde of a person who has been in the same place for more than a quarter of a century is not an easy feat! And just in case you think you missed something, I haven't called the sales lady since the last time. I plan to do so on Monday.

I guess I should admit to a bit of sitting around right now. Mom and I might plant ourselves in front of some movie or other before we hit our respective sacks. It's to late to get any major cleaning/sorting/organizing done anyway.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Deceive Inveigle and Obfuscate

The wife of one of the gents who works with my dad is looking for an administrative assistant. She works in some kind of office retail business (in my understanding from my dad's limited description). While I've never been in such a position, I can learn most anything. At my dad's urging, and willing to take any decent opportunity, I gave him my resume to pass on to his coworker to pass on to his wife.

Except, they (that is, the coworker and dad) would like me to change a few things. They'd like me to put that I have experience with Microsoft Office, as opposed to just Word and Outlook like I have on there already, so that it implies I have experience with Excel as well. I deplore Excel, I don't work spreadsheets very well, and it hurts my eyes and gives me a headache to look at them for any length of time. I don't have much experience with them, and I don't really want any more, because they're so hard for me to even look at. So, it's really false to say that I have experience with them when I really don't, and I don't want to encourage someone to consider me based on skills I don't actually have with a program that I actually hate.

They also want me to add hobby experience in graphic design. I don't do any graphic designing; I plug things into a program and hit render and hope it comes out in a way that I like. My websites, while I'm very proud of them, are built with the templates within a website-building program. There's really no from-scratch designing that I do, and since it's all for fun, I feel I'd be falsely representing my skills if I proclaim experience that I really don't have on my resume. This is really the kind of thing that would be coming out in the interview, if I make it that far. If graphic design experience is necessary for the position, then I don't have the qualifications.

I don't understand why this is so hard for my dad to get. He was really pressing me to make these false changes. I know he's trying to help me out, but just because OBC is a lot like a bank in many ways, that doesn't mean I have bank-related experience. This is the same thing. I'll sell myself with anything I can use if given the chance, but I don't think my resume is the correct place to put hobbies that I just do because I find them neat and am entirely self-taught, leaning heavily on what a program can do for me. The skills that my dad wants me to claim, I simply don't have. And, it's not right if I get a job based on what I can't actually do.

As far as I know, he still has my resume, so she may give me a chance and she may not. It's worth a try, and if nothing comes of it, no big deal. I'm not going to lie to get my foot in the door because I'll only have to own up later. I don't think that would reflect very well on me at all.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I got this feeling that I wanted to write something deep or inspirational or thought provoking today. I read some very interesting articles on HowSuffWorks this morning that got me thinking, as they often do, but the blog entry that normally comes from such thoughts just isn't happening today.

Instead, I'm left wondering what happened to February, though I know it will be back by the weekend. I'm not complaining about our Spring-like weather, it's very nice, but I'd like to have a little bit of that snow that the northern states are getting so much of.

Aside from the unusually warm weather, February has some interesting things going for it this year. There's tomorrow's Lunar New Year, and next week I'm off on Friday, and then the next week is a total lunar eclipse. Oh, and that weekend is Fox's birthday party, and the weekend before that, Fae and I are supposed to finally do some painting. There's a neat little shop in Waldorf that has ceramic things that you can paint. When I saw that, I instantly thought that she and I would have fun doing it. Oh, and I've got my last yoga class this weekend too. And, I'm expecting my little wheeled house to be mine by the end of the month or shortly after (depending on how the renovations are coming along). Quite a lot of things going on, actually!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Here's Something Funny

I forgot to tell you about this yesterday! While we were wandering around Annapolis after brunch on Sunday, I managed to get a rather painful episode of hiccups. Hiccups are annoying most times, but this really hurt! We went into a really neat store that sells Irish imports (clothes, books, hats, Waterford Crystal). Fae and Fox were trying to scare me to get the hiccups to stop. That never works when it's done by people I trust. As we were standing before the bookshelves, I reached up to get something from the top shelf, and the thin book next to it fell over, right at my face! It didn't land on me or anything, or even fall off the shelf, but the shock was enough to cure my hiccups. Yahoo! I scared them out of myself! Fox ended up buying that book, so the next time I get painful hiccups, he can throw the book at me.

I'll hope you'll forgive my punning, but it really did happen!

E-Bay came through for me last night. I had decided to look for more comics, since the publisher's seller is out of stock of most of what I need. I found a lot of 17, half of which I don't already have, in fairly new condition (he said he read them once and bagged them), for a little less than two bucks an issue, including shipping. I'll take it. Now, whatever shall I do with the comics that will now be duplicates....

An Australian seller has a Good Mark necklace available. I'd so love to have that, but I don't have the hundred and sixty bones to spare for it either. One day, I'll make one like I did the rings for my costume. One day.

My mind is nowhere near work today. I haven't worked a full five days for two weeks, maybe I got too used to it. Ah, well, I just have to suffer through this week and most of next, I'm off next Friday. Of course, then it's back to the five days a week, but that's life. I'll get used to it again. I could be like some of my friends who don't even get weekends off on a regular basis. Of course, these people also have a much more enjoyable and stimulating job than I do, and without the hours-long commute, so it's probably a little bit easier to deal with. (And don't you come here telling me it's not, because you know I won't believe you!)

This warm weather makes us want kayaking season to return sooner rather than later. It'll get cold by the end of the week, but right now, we're ready for Spring. Flowers, festivals, and warm water. Soon enough. Tempus fugit. Except when you're sitting at work bored silly....

Monday, February 04, 2008

We Know How to Party

Thanks to the warm-ish weather, we were able to meet Fox and Fae at their apartment and walk the mile to Annapolis in relative comfort. Brunch was alright. One of the things I don't like about this place is that their cooks seem to have issues with grits and cream chipped beef (and yes, the cream chipped beef is on my do-not-eat list, but some days you just have to ignore diet restrictions!), they get them right maybe a tenth of the time. Yesterdays creamy beef dish was quite yummy, but the grits were soup. Grits should be firm, almost mashed potato-y, you should be able to eat them with a fork with ease. Soupy grits is just foul! We also tend to not like the lack of veggies. Really, I think the only reason we go to this place every month is because of the location. One of these, we're going to try their crab dinner. Someday.

There is a better place to go for brunch, actually, there are two. But not as centrally located, and without the nearby shops and the good walking exercise we can get by going to Annapolis. Alas!

After our meal, we had some shops to go to. The first was the comic store where I bought some bags and boards for my new collection. By the way, if any of you, fair readers, have any tips on acquiring comics that are no longer available when eBay fails, I'd love to hear them! Among our shopping, I also bought a new hat (like I need another).

Then we walked back to the car, visited with our friends a bit, and headed home.

We weren't quite hungry for dinner, and we're not Big Game watchers (except dad). We did have a sophisticated Super Bowl party though! We had garlic and bean dip with baked pita and tortilla chips, some ready made hot wings, a delectable French Beaujolais, and some yummy Trader Joe's decaf coffee. Really, why have beer when you can have wine?

I'm happy the Giants won, the Patriots deserved the loss. I didn't watch the game, of course. My mom and I were in the other room with a movie.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Go, Giants!

Actually, I don't really care about who wins the Super Bowl today. I don't follow football, though I will check in every once in a while to see how my local teams (The 'Skins and the Ravens) are doing. I once sudo-dated a big Ravens fan who took the time to explain some of the rules to me while I made a cheesecake and he watched his game. I was ok with that, even though I'm a fan of real football, I don't mind being a little less in the dark if I happen to be around when one of these sissified rugby games is being shown.

I do think the Patriots need to be knocked off their high horse, though. Maybe it was their utterly unsportsman like conduct, attempting to learn the codes that other teams use, that makes me really want to see their demise. That's a nasty thing to do in any sport. Sure, maybe other teams did it too and the Patriots got caught, but I thought it was still quite deplorable. They need to lose. They need to come off of this perfect season blowing the last game. Do I think it's going to happen? Not really. But I'm rooting for you, Giants, anyway! Still holding out hope that you will show that other team that they're not special!

Sometimes more than the game, people will be talking about the commercials tomorrow. Some of them are quite clever. Usually Super Bowl night involves my dad watching the game in one room and shouting out the highlights and interesting commercials to my mother and I, who are crocheting in front of a movie in the other room. I don't think we'll be able to see all of the game tonight before we have to hit the sack, but I should be able to get some good commercials in.

And every time I think about football, I think of those crazy people in that Boise Walmart gathering in front of the big TV watching the highlights of some BSU championship game some years back. I got the impression that this DVD played on a loop, and the people huddled before the TV at the most exciting parts. Either, the game never gets dull even when you've seen it fifty times (HAH!), or those folks are really starved for some decent sports action. I can't think of football without remembering that phenomenon. Only in Idaho!

I think I've typed enough about football for this morning. Go, Giants!

Happy Imbolc!

There is a lot going on for this fire festival. Called Candlemas by Christians, we continue the lighting of fires or candles to help bring back the warmth of the sun. We also celebrate the first signs of Spring with early flowers and sheep's milk (seasonally, this is the time of lambing). The Maiden is the Goddess of this festival, usually personified in the Irish Goddess Brigid.

This festival is good for performing acts of divination, symbolized in the crossroads, and many things that involve purifying and protecting the home. In some traditions, this is the marriage festival, we see the Maiden Goddess on her marriage bed.

This is an important festival to me. My patron Goddess is one of the Maiden Goddesses, so I celebrate with her on this day (I also have an affinity for Brigid). It also occurs opposite my patron God's festival day. Interesting that it works out this way! By sheer timing circumstance, I was able to do something much more elaborate for this Sabbat than the smaller scale that I am often restricted to doing.

My first act of celebration began on the eve. Since we welcome the coming Spring, this is a good time for Spring cleaning. There is more cleaning than can actually be completed in one day in my current living conditions, but a little here and there helps. What couldn't get more specialized attention got a symbolic sweep from my besom.

My altar was set on my tarot chest for this ritual and I cast my circle around it. On a lacy white altar cloth, I placed a bayberry candle to continue to bring in the light in the center of the symbols of the elements: a quartz crystal for earth, rose incense for air, a lava rock for fire, and a special shell for water. A basket for Brigid's bed was set to the left of the altar, and within it I placed two corn dollies from the harvest at Lughnasadh, one for the Goddess, and one for the God. Using strips of hay, I wove a kind of sunwheel called Brigid's Cross. This symbol has come to mean many things through the years, most agree it is a reflection of the cycle of seasons. They are hung in the home for protection and blessings. For now, mine will sit on my altar.

I followed the making of my sun cross with some pendulum divination. Since this festival has much to do with the home, my questions were home-related. This is also quite appropriate as I have been in search of a new place to live.

I hope this fire festival, and the blessed marriage, is a wonderful day for everyone!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Second Day of Yoga

I'm really enjoying this yoga class that my mother found. It was much better this week because it wasn't freezing in there. My mother and I are thinking of taking some classes with this teacher, which would of course depend on when and where. I hope that works out, it's really great. If you've never tried yoga, I would highly recommend it. After only two two-hour classes, I love it.

That's really all I have to write about today! I thought I had more, but it went away. I had more at 0100 this morning, but I thought I'd wait. Now, whatever I had in the wee hours of the morning is gone!

I think I need a nap! Brunch tomorrow, and the weather should be nice enough to walk. We much prefer making the trek (and getting the exercise) than paying for parking.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Destination: Ice

That's what they said; north and west of town was going to see freezing rain and lots of it. While I live east of town, where we were only going to get rain, OBC is west, in the ice territory.

I suppose some areas did get the ice that was announced, but I saw rain that didn't freeze upon impact. Even so, we left the house early, and it was good that we did. People don't know how to drive in the rain around here (or the ice, or the snow, or the sunshine for that matter!). The rain that was falling over the lacy city of my office was freezing on the ground, but we didn't actually notice it until we were walking to the door. I've seen worse ice. Last year's V-day, for example.

While I was driving through the driving rain this morning, and listening to the weather reports maintaining the icy conditions on the other side of town, and thought about that common but odd-sounding choice of word.

The "town" being referenced is Washington, the District of Columbia. It seems odd to call it a town, as the most common definition of the word is an urban area that is larger than a village but smaller than a city. DC is, after all, a city, and a decently large city at that. But it's also a district and, though it falls outside of that common use of the word town, it is still within the definition of town. As substantially important as this little area is in terms of function and history, and its uniqueness in its plan and purpose, it just seemed odd to simply call it a town. Yet, I do it, my dad does it, the media does it, I bet a lot of us (otherwise outsiders) call it a town. While it is not incorrect to do so, this morning, it just hit me as...inadequate.

There are so many special things in that city; the museums, the monuments, the special governmental considerations that even include lacking the rights that the rest of us get (I'm talking about that taxation without representation practice). For its uniqueness, town doesn't seem like enough.

But, I'm not going to stop referring to it as a town (by one definition of the word, it is), among it's many other names. I was thinking just yesterday how much I do like it, as I was driving across the bridge and contemplating the low, irregular skyline. This, of course, was design. What dominates the landscape from that angle is the towering structure of the Washington Monument and the distinctive Capitol Dome. I wish I had a picture for you of that view. Maybe someday.