Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gun Shy

The thing about antivirus programs is that I don't trust them. Both of the programs that I currently used have failed me in the past (the epic, hard-drive clearing, re-install the OS and lose everything you've ever saved kind of fail). I have important, irreplaceable things on all computers. I can't afford to have an antivirus program that fails to protect that.

The truth of the matter is that it's not the antivirus programs, but the viruses I managed to pick up. Most computer viruses attack the antivirus first. It makes sense. Wouldn't you take out the thing that guards against you first? And maybe, at the time, the programs didn't update frequently enough, and I didn't go searching for updates as often as I should have. Still, it made me lose faith in the ability of the antivirus programs to protect my files. Particularly since two leading brands had failed me.

I've had this copy of Norton on my desktop for a couple years. It has picked up some tracking cookies and one virus that I must have gotten from a video site (and I haven't gone back!). That virus did try to disable the program first, but I managed to save it and get rid of it. I am slowly building up trust in the antivirus program again. In light of this new threat, I finally installed that final copy of Norton to keep the beast laptop protected.

Really, the key is keeping the programs up to date. Since the makers are in the business of staying on top of the newest threats, I have no other option but to trust that they can take care of them and update the programs often.

Hopefully, I haven't already picked up this newest computer enemy. So far, it looks clean.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not Better Than Yesterday

Yes, I spent the evening with my game. But I did get a good thirty minutes on the elliptical first. And I stopped for dinner and to put the new crickets away. But, yeah. Game. Must game!

Now, must sleep!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Little Time

I spent the morning shopping with my mother before heading home. Then I put stuff away and spent some quality hours with my new video game and took a little nap.

I really can't call it new, as it's a remake of a game that's been released and re-released several times, this time with all new CGI cutscenes! I'm a cutscene junkie, I think.

Now, I really need to get to bed!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Home Again

Mom decided not to look at dogs today. Instead, we went shopping. I bought a lot of things for my kayaking trip this summer (shoes, travel/camping supplies, things like that) and a new bonsai. I've been missing having one, so I'm going to try to raise a different kind of tree.

After shopping, we picked up dad and went to the movies. We saw Rush to Witch Mountain, which wasn't a bad film and was (of course) done much better than the originals from the 70's. Other than the alien children with neat powers and that they had to go to Witch Mountain, it wasn't related to the first film or its sequel either. But, it was entertaining, and that's the whole point.

Now, it's time for some good quality TV. I missed The Mentalist this week because Comcast is stupid, but thankfully, my mother recorded it. Yay, VCR!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oh Yeah

I didn't have anything to write today. And then I remembered I was going to talk about my weekend. Plans have changed, but I'm still going home.

My mother wants a dog (I just typed "my mother wants a god"). Really, dog. Yorkie, to be precise. She wanted me to come with her tomorrow to help her pick one, because I used to work at an animal hospital and may notice things she'd miss. Now, she's not sure about the dog, so we'll see how tomorrow goes.

She also told me that two people were murdered in the neighborhood yesterday and a third is in critical condition. While my parents and I didn't know them, it's still shocking. The report called it a home invasion robbery, and the police think it was not random. I guess that's a small comfort.

I never really worried about my safety in that neighborhood. Sure, all places get the occasional group of delinquents, but it was never dangerous. We used to play outside at night. People are hardly ever walking around in the dark (of course, yesterday's horrible incident happened in the afternoon, so what does that mean?).

I'm still trying to understand all of this, even as I remind myself that it's not really something that a normal, sane person can understand. I don't think it can be understood at all. Still, that doesn't stop me from wanting to understand, and at the same time, not wanting to. That kind of thing doesn't happen there. It just doesn't.

And then it does. And then what do you do?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Say Something

I'm going out tonight. I have nothing else to talk about today.


"Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where-" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't much matter which way you go," said the Cat.
- from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What the -

If you're going to do my work and not tell me about it, don't be condescending when I go to do it, find you've done it, and have to correct the mistakes you made. If you had just said you did it, per established procedures, I wouldn't have looked at it at all, and those mistakes would have stayed there and you could go on feeling like you did a good job and I wouldn't have bothered.

Don't get mad at me when you don't do something right and I find out about it because you didn't do something else right. Sheesh.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not in the Groove

I've got lots of things to crochet and I'd much rather be home working on them. That's just the way it is some days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ostara, the Fulfillment

I hope this new spring season is treating everyone well.

This was my first Ostara celebrated with my friends and family of Shadow Grove. The plan for the day involved egg hunts for the children, and painting wooden eggs, little bird houses, and flower pots. All around, the Grove was showing signs of the new life of spring, and we were surrounding ourselves with its symbols.

The ritual in the early evening did not involve a bonfire as it often did. This time, we were led in a meditation and when we opened our eyes, we were each holding a brightly colored egg. Mine was orange, and I first thought that was not a relevant color to me, but soon came to realize it was perfect. At Imbolc, we each had charged a seed and were told to bring it back with us. During the ritual, while we held on to our eggs for a later purpose, we planted our seed in little peat cups with a little flag marking our names. These seeds will be cultivated and germinated and will later be planted in the Grove garden as a sign of our community, our family. Those who wanted one received a gift of a blooming Narcissus, that many of us planted in the pots we had painted.

The eggs we were given had a special purpose. After the ritual, we trudged back up the steep hill. We were told to draw upon the egg, dividing it into quadrants lengthwise. On either end, we put our name and a symbol that represented our faith (this was a pentacle in my case). We then thought of four things that we wanted, needed, or hoped for and wrote or drew symbols to represent them in each of the quadrants. The task from there was to roll the egg down a hill. When it stops, the quadrant facing up contained what we needed to focus on. Mine was happiness, which I represented by a glowing sun. This is also a feeling I get from the color of my egg, and in line with my wish last Esbat. I then opened up my egg and threw it into the woods so the critters of the Grove could have something to munch on.

After all of that was the feasting and gaiety I've come to expect with this wonderful group of people. Many of us were noting that this was the largest amount of people for a Sabbat that we've yet had. It is so nice to see this ministry growing, though we are near out-growing the ritual space. We have some thinking to do about that dilemma.

Lets Do Shots

Well, if you ask Miss Luna, she would hide under the bed.

But, it was time for shots anyway. She's a healthy little bugger (even if the doctor said she's about two and a half pounds heavier than she should be. Two and a half pounds? Come on! She only weighs 8.5 lbs!). Now, she's all inoculated, and hopefully not very angry with me for it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Odd Tired Feeling

I'm feeling oddly tired. Maybe weary is more like it. I don't know, really.

I didn't sleep very well last night. I slept soundly when I was sleeping, but woke up several times in the night.

Then a friend came over and we went for a walk and had lunch and *eh-hem* stuff like that. (Just for you, Venchue)

Then I took a nap. Now, I'm still feeling post-nap groggy. I don't even feel like working on the myriad of projects and commissions I have. Early bed, I think.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Someone is Getting Old

But it's not me!

Happy Birthday, my dear brother.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Were You Thinking

When I came into work today, there was a message on my voicemail. It was transferred to me at 1849 by another employee who knows I leave the office at 1530. Normally, that's no big deal, except that the person who left the message was angry because she had been getting the run-around in various departments throughout the company for a week. Why, why, why would someone transfer a person who is upset at getting so many voicemails to yet another voicemail? Especially since I am not a supervisor or manager, so complaints shouldn't be coming to me, and I couldn't help her with the initial problem she was calling about anyway.

I'm pretty angry too. I'm angry for that client and the difficult time she had getting her problem fixed (it did manage to get fixed before I returned her call this morning), I'm angry at all the coworkers in our office and others who didn't get back to her in a timely manner, and I'm angry at the final coworker who transferred her to me, especially since there is nothing that I do that that person cannot also do. That last step ("the icing on the very nasty cake" according to the client) was unnecessary and an example of extremely poor service.

I told her I would make sure my manager knew of her trial and I would try to find out a better point of contact if she should have a problem in the future.

I know I'm not the best person when it comes to providing customer service, but come on! No one should have to go through what that person went through, especially when the company she was representing pays us for a service. Unbelievable.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What We Lack

We need to be the change we want to see. If we don't take the initiative, it's pointless to wait for someone to do it for us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Way to Pass the Evening

So, I can hold my alcohol pretty well. I really can.

Phoenix introduced me to a concoction that involves a glass of Guinness, dropping a shot glass full of Irish Crème liquor into it, and chugging (because if you don’t drink it fast, the crème will curdle). I had two of those. I was doing fine. I sat down with my laptop to get some work done while we watched NCIS and the Mentalist.

Then I got up to go to the bathroom, and I wanted to be quick so as to beat the commercials. I think I might have taken 4 steps before I was on the floor. It was a combination of chugged Guinness/liquor and standing up fast. Still, not fun! The oddest thing about it is that I wasn't drunk (two Guinness, even mixed, isn't enough to put me out), I wasn't even buzzing.

And then it was midnightish before we actually got to bed. I'm sure my headache is because of the lack of sleep. I’m going to need a lot of coffee today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I take the wearing of the green seriously. It's fun. It's a lot like Halloween, where you can dress semi-silly and everyone is ok with that. Some people here are stretching what counts as green quite a bit.

Happy green day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

No More Sick

Poor roommie's beau. He got a cold, and they were visiting family in PA this weekend. It's different than what I had, and it seems to be different than what dad had. I want none of it! I'm done with the sick!

No more sick! No more sick! No more sick!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Before Heading Home

We didn't think we'd have time at the maple festival today, so we didn't try to go again. We just hung out, watched a movie, talked about things. Then mom and I were on our way home.

Despite the rain, and the fact that the freezing rain didn't seem to happen, it was still a very nice weekend and always wonderful to see my brother and his wife.

We'll go down again in June. Hopefully, the weather will be more cooperative.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Weather Control

Or rather, that we have none.

The maple festival that we were going to go to today is over the ridge of mountains, about an hour away from my brother's place. That's no big deal except that area was looking at freezing rain, and it would be inadvisable to attempt the mountain crossing in such conditions. We opted instead to go to the local book fair.

It was nice. There were a lot of books, and most of them were in the $5 ballpark. They advertise as 60-90% off the cover prices, which was about right. I got a few books I had been eyeing and found a few more to learn some more trade tricks.

After that, we returned to my brother's home and watched a movie while Moon and I took the time to crochet. We can't control the weather, and we will likely not have enough time in the day to try for the maple festival again either. That's ok, it happens every year in conjunction with my brother's birthday. We'll try again next time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Long Drive

Dad was feeling better, but since it snowed this morning and might rain tomorrow, we decided it would be best if he sat this one out.

Mom and I got started just a little later than we wanted to, but made really good time. We didn't hit any of the traffic I was expecting, especially near Richmond. The snow on the mountains looked beautiful.

It still may rain tomorrow, but we're going to the Maple festival anyway. I still think it will be very fun, even if the weather isn't so nice. Maple syrup! Yum!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Hare Moon and a Wishing Moon

While this month is called the hare moon, which is quite fitting for the season, according to 7th House, there are four Wishing Moons throughout the year as well. A Wishing Moon is just what it implies; it is a time to make a wish and to wait for its fulfillment.

I had planned a certain working for this Esbat but ended up doing something else entirely. Perhaps this something else was more in line with the energies of the Wishing Moon than I could really have planned. I did something I have not done in quite some time: I went out on a date!

It may seem like a simple enough thing, but I see it as living. Whatever does or does not come from one dinner date, I went out into the world and spent a nice evening living in it.

Esbats may be set aside for spell casting, but there is no greater way to honor the phases of the moon and the cycle of life than to experience it. My wish is simply to never forget that I deserve my own happiness, in whatever form that may take.

May the hares find you warm and happy and taking an active role in your life.


My parents and I are going to visit my brother and sister-in-law this weekend. The plan was to have dad meet me at my home when he gets off of work and the two of us would drive to the house for leaving sometime Friday.

Dad just called to say that he is sicker than sick and isn't sure he can drive home. He has to wait until I get off, then we will leave my car here and stop by my place to get my stuff.

Things have to change a little, and it's possible dad won't make it with us this weekend. We'll see how much rest he gets before we leave tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I have a new laptop.

Yes, I have a laptop. It's four years old, but still great. It's gotten more use since I moved out than all the time I've owned it. It does everything I need it to do and some. It can run my rpgs and other computer games, it's great for watching movies, it can handle my 3D graphics programs like a champ.

So, what's the problem, you may ask. The problem is it is a beast. I've described it as humongous in previous posts. It is. It's got a huge 17 inch screen and must weigh at least 10 lbs, maybe more. It's a powerhouse, but it comes with a drawback.

The drawback is simply that it's not very portable. Sure, I took it with my on my last trip to Idaho. That was a chore, and hard to work with in the tight spaces of an airplane. I'm going to open my shop soon, and I'm going to need to stay connected to it. If I can't take my computer with me, that won't be so easy to do.

So, I bought a new one. Yes, still a Dell. It's 14 inches and about half the weight and I got it in a pretty spring green. It may not be enough to run Guild Wars, but it would certainly be enough for the Sims and Sim City (if I can load them on Vista, which I now have to learn). At the very least, I'll be able to keep store-related pictures and files and stay on top of things when I'm away from my other two computers.

And, to top it off, it would have cost a good $900, but I got it for $600, and I won't have to start paying for it until my credit card is paid off (which will be soon).


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Someone sent me work that was not in the right format for me to work. I informed them of this. The reply I got was "I refuse to do it that way."

I had about fifty snappy come-backs run through my mind, but opted instead to forward that message to Adolf and say I did not appreciate the tone that was clearly conveyed in the e-mail (not to mention that I don't think we had a more-than-hour-long meeting a year ago to establish procedures to have reps declare they will refuse to follow them).

Thankfully, Adolf and Boss² saw my point of view and sent the issue off to that rep's supervisor for correction.

I think I learned something. I learned that it doesn't serve to argue and it doesn't serve to argue back. I also learned that it's ok to bother my supervisor with those issues and that I could do so while holding my tongue to the offender and without angry typing.

I think, and I hope the powers that be noticed, that also means my behavior has much improved since the time when I did respond to things as my temper dictated. I feel pretty good about that.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Something Clever

Last week, I wanted to blog something clever, or particularly witty, or just with a tone that would be interesting or entertaining.

I started writing, and it has turned into more than a blog's post worth of story. Like I needed some other story to work on!

Funny, the way things sometimes go, isn't it?

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Phoenix's beau's daughter was visiting us today. I had something to do at 1700, but they were sure they would be back in time. This was great, because it meant I could go with them to Great Falls.

Great Falls Park is a National Historic Site and a National Engineering Landmark. It is an area of the Potomac River, the border between Maryland and Virginia, riddled with rapids, rocks, and falls. The river was central to Native and early American trade, and the Patowmack Canal was built to navigate around the falls. The history of the canal is quite fascinating, but we only had time for the waters of the falls today.

Even though it was somewhat overcast, the warm weather was perfect for being outdoors. There are a few wooden overlooks on the VA side of the river and one area, marked as a kayak landing though I would not take my kayak down there, where you can climb down right to the water's edge (though there are many posted signs warning people to be careful of the water's edge).

The flow of water over the rocks was maybe slightly less than average. It's been a little dry (excepting last week's snowfall) and the river is down just a tad. Still, the water was rushing over jagged rocks and foaming and bubbling in pools below.

It looks like the river evens out just below the falls. I did see some kayakers round that last bend just as we arrived. I would never take my kayak here, I don't have the right kind. My roommate has a video of a couple kayakers going over the falls the last time they were here. I think I'd take the canal!

It was such a lovely day to be out, climbing on rocks and listening to the splash of the falls and the gurgle of rushing water. We hope to see the MD side next time, and maybe we'll be able to visit the canal and the ruins of Matildaville too.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

How About That Weather

It's hard to believe that I was driving through the falling snow on Monday, and the denim shirt I chose to wear today is too much shirt for the weather. Crazy! I hope this nice weather holds up for the next couple weekends, though. I've got lots of outdoor things planned.

Friday, March 06, 2009

All Done

I am happy to say: I am all done with my taxes!

I figured out what I was doing wrong. Now, I'm certain everything is right. My dad will bring me a couple legal size envelopes (because I happened to not have any) and then I will put those suckers in the mail. They would already be in if I could e-file but, because of the two state thing, I can't. That's ok, federal is in, and the states will be in the mail today.

It feels great to be done!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Think Juice

Coffee, touch of hot chocolate mix, touch of sugar, rum.

Trust me.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I was having dinner with a friend this evening. The only snag with that is she gets off of work at 1730 and I get off at 1530. This gave me a good two hours to kill around the office. It was simple enough; we have a fitness room and I was able to spend a good hour on the elliptical machine.

While I was there, another coworker, with whom I am not acquainted, came in to use the facility. He warmed up for a little more than two minutes by going backwards very quickly on an elliptical, then did a bunch of seemingly random things with the weight machine and free weights. At one point, he positioned himself on the bench with some pretty large weights and attempted to (read: audibly struggled to) do some chest flies. He might have lifted the weights three times before dropping them with a loud thud and an exasperated sigh. Then he sat there for a few minutes and did it again.

I'm not sure how effective a work out that is. I don't think free weights are ever intended to be dropped on the floor like that. It makes me wonder if he was trying to impress the girl on the elliptical (who, mind you, was in her own little iPod world and only saw what was happening out of the corner of her eye because he was being so loud about it) or if he was simply moving to heavier weights sooner than he ought.

I must say it seemed like his routine lacked direction, or even routine for that matter. He looked like a pretty fit guy and like he should have known a thing or two about working out, but his behavior in the little gym did not match that. And the dropping of the weights was just one example! I don't think that's quite how work-outs are supposed to work. But, more power to the guy for the attempt.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Next Move

My parents bought a house. They lived there, raised two children there, watched them both move away, and live there still. That is what a house and a home should be. You buy it, and you stay put. That's the point.

That also means my only experience with moving has been when I helped friends, or to and from college dorms. All of which are not bit deals. With no experience, I planned last year's move very carefully. Monty said he had helped many people move and I was the most organized ever. That's quite nice.

The other thing about moving, that hadn't even crossed my mind to be something complicated, is taxes. I've worked in Virginia for the past near-six years, but I've lived in Maryland for most of five of them. Virginia has a special agreement with the surrounding states that residents who live elsewhere but work in VA don't have to pay VA taxes. This is why this was never an issue before.

Now that I've moved across state lines, I have to file taxes in two states. This wouldn't be so bad if I had a job in MD, moved to VA and then got a new job here. It's a bit more complicated because all of my income comes from VA. I'm still required to pay taxes in MD for those first five months that I lived there in 2008. Because all of my income comes from VA, I have to pay taxes on the entire year, not just the seven months that I was living here. That's mostly alright, because I get a credit for a portion of those taxes that were paid to MD. Thank goodness I have a program that does this math for me!

What I'm finding, though, is that the program is telling me my VA tax return is a substantial amount, almost as much as I will get from my federal return (that has that nice student loan interest deducted). This just seems like way too much money. I've looked at the numbers that I plugged into the program, I compared them with all my records, and I did the math myself. I'm pretty convinced that it's right. And don't get me wrong; I would love to be getting a tax return of this amount. It would really really help me out. I've been looking for insight on this particular situation online. Many people talk about the filing in two states thing, however nothing notes my specific situation as an example (living in one state and working in another then moving to the working state) so the information I'm finding doesn't exactly apply to me.

LDS says she's pretty good at these things and has offered to look over my forms and double-check my math. It should help to have another pair of eyes on it. The real issue that I'm running into it not the amount of the expected return, but that each state uses their own forms, therefore their own terminology, and that makes me uncertain that I actually plugged in the right numbers.

I suppose if taxes were easy, no one would fret about it!

The next time I need to move across state lines (which I'm hoping is never just because of how complicated it can get), I'm going to do it on New Year's Day. That way, this won't be an issue again!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Tony Was Freakin' Awesome

A week ago, the community of Shadow Grove learned that one of their own left this world. It was sudden and unexpected and the physical cause is still unknown. In that week, there was grief and sorrow for his wife and 9-month old daughters. There was also celebration. We celebrated his life, the lives he made, the lives he touched. Even those who did not know him well knew a special light had left us.

I got sick and was unable to go to the Calling on Friday. I could, however, make it to the funeral on Saturday. This took place at his family's Methodist church. It was, by far, the most forward-thinking Christian church I have ever been to. The pastor asked the ministers of Shadow Grove to participate in the service, read a poem that was written for Tony, and chose a closing hymn that would specifically sing to our path, to Tony's path. When the pastor announced the Shadow Grove ministers, the person sitting in front of me leaned over to his wife and whispered, "they didn't go to this church?" That was amusing to me. The funeral was beautiful.

Yesterday, we had our own remembrance gathering at the Grove House. Tony was known as the Grill King. If you couldn't find him, he would be at the grill, preparing meat the way it should be prepared. He also enjoyed a good bonfire, and was coordinating that and much of the meals for our upcoming Beltane festival. Our memorial involved the two things that we knew he was passionate about: a raging bonfire and a feast he would have been proud of.

It was the most people I've yet seen at the Grove. Through tears, smiles, and laughter, we said our farewells, and burned letters in the fire. This was a special fire as well. It contained parts of a wooden trebuchet that had flung its last pumpkin into the trees this past Samhain. Tony had helped build that. We think he'll be around for the building of the new trebuchet. After the ritual, it was back to the house for an amazing feast while people shared stories and memories.

I think everyone would be honored to be remembered this way. It was not without sorrow, but it was also filled with happy memories and sharing them with friends and kin.

Have a blessed journey, dear one.


The snow came down. It came down so vigorously that it covered the windows just as soon as you cleared them off.

By the time I truly realized just how stupid it was to try to get to work, it was easier to just keep going than to turn around. I was only eighteen minutes late.

I drove slowly. I kept as far behind the car in front of me as I could and still see it. I couldn't see behind me for most of the drive. I slid into the bank on the side of the road once. At my last oil change, I was told that the front tires on my front-wheel drive Saturn would only just pass inspection (if I were to get an inspection) and that they would need to be replaced. The mechanic even said "all bets are off if it snows." Still, I went to work. Slowly, carefully, and got here in one piece.

I'm listening to one of my coworkers complaining about her drive. She was in a four-wheel drive SUV and was complaining about some poor soul in a little front-wheel drive car like mine going twenty mph down the road (twenty?! I don't think I went more than ten or fifteen at any given part of my drive!). At one point in her story, she just exclaimed, "I have four-wheel drive, just get out of my way! You shouldn't be out there if you can't drive in it!" In part, she's right. If you don't trust your skills at the wheel or your vehicle, you really shouldn't be out in this mess. The other side of that coin is that many SUV owners think their vehicles give them supernatural powers in bad weather.

While I think I understand my coworker's frustration, I think she didn't understand the situation of the person in front of her. That lady could have bad tires, like I do, but work in a job that required her to be there despite the weather, like I do. Honestly, do you think someone who does not own a snow-ready vehicle would be out in this mess if they didn't feel they had to be? Only patience really serves in this weather.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

One More Farewell

A beautiful life has left this world.

Today, we said farewell.

We feasted in his honor and told stories in his memory.

And promised his wife that his girls will know the beautiful, dedicated person he was.