Thursday, January 31, 2008

This is the last time ... I promise

I was going to drop this subject about the Proclaimers because three recent posts is enough, and if you don't care, then it's down right boring, but I found this video and I couldn't help myself. It's cute if you're a HP fan. (This is the first time I've embedded a youtube video! yay me!)

But then, I just can't leave you with that video and walk away. If you know any of their music, it's that song. So, to expand your horizons, I give you this video of theirs, not a illegally recorded concert video or an animation done by someone who needs a life.

Now I have to come up with a topic to bore you with next week. Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More on Yesterday

My new copy of This is the Story (1987) by The Proclaimers didn't come from Amazon yesterday. (I did find the catalog I was looking for, however.) I opted to pay for shipping, instead of going with the cheaper slower option, so I wouldn't have to wait so long, but I'm still waiting. Without the CD I can't have "my boys" on my iPod, but I can still listen to them from my computer's library in the mean time.

Yesterday I was poking around on the Internet and found their web site, some videos, and an audio clip of a BBC Radio Scotland interview with the Proclaimers. Craig and Charlie Reid have very thick Scottish accents so I had to listen it very closely to understand what they were saying. They also sing with these accents and make no effort to sing without them. (When I listen to their songs, I'm drawn in to the whole sound and energy of each song, then read the liner notes later to figure out what they are singing.) They said in the interview when asked why they chose to sing in broad Scots, "...if Americans and English and Irish and Jamaicans can sing in their own accents, then so could Scots."

I don't know about you, but I do not have an accent.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Found It. And I Found It Again.

I was looking through my desk this morning for a catalog I remembered seeing when we packed and moved offices last year. I haven't found the catalog yet, but I did find the CD I'd lost. It was in a zip bag of CD's and liner notes, none of them matching each other. Of course.

I'm sure since I found this today, the new one I ordered from Amazon will be waiting for me when I get home. Isn't that the way is always is?

The back of the CD is badly scratched and not playable in many places. I've been listening to it anyway through my computer and have been enjoying my long-lost child. I better save this in case the new one never comes, right? I clicked "rip" to save it and it had been in the library on my computer the whole time. D'oh!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I am not my mother

When I was a kid...

If the butter was cold I'd scrape the top of the stick with the knife into curls thin enough to spread on my toast leaving rows of concave trenches along the creamy yellow bar. This would irritate my mom to no end. Thou shalt not mutilate the butter.

Or I'd pick up the stick of butter and swipe it across my toast. Leaving crumbs, of course, on the end of the stick. And again, "Who did this to the butter!"

Or I'd put the butter plate in the microwave to soften it so I wouldn't leave the telltale deep plowed furrows or even crumbs. Except it'd melt into a puddle. No escaping now.

Thirty-some years later the butter in my house is always a mess, and I don't care. The bath towels are not folded lengthwise perfectly in thirds, then in half and half again making identical stacks that fit precisely in the color-sorted linen closet. There are at least seven loads of laundry waiting to be done, probably ten, in the laundry room and quasi-sorted in piles on the hall floor. And I don't have the foggiest notion what's for dinner next week.

I'm glad the butter is a mess, it makes me smile.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Shoot Out

Did you see the moonrise last night? In my neck of the woods, it was gorgeous! It was a brilliant, red, not-quite-full, waning gibbous hanging just over the horizon behind the bare trees; breath-taking. Truly.

When I see the moon like that I want to take a picture of it. Therein lies the problem, run-of-the-mill digital cameras can't handle moonscapes well because of the dark sky and you're left with an out of focus grainy blob. That happened Tuesday. I was driving around town and saw the moon, grabbed my camera and took this shot. I started to set the exposure and shutter manually to do the shot properly, but by then the clouds had rolled in.

When I see the moon like that, the photographer (of a long time ago) in me yearns for film, a long lens and time to do it justice. Good pictures of the moon just don't happen. The nice thing about the moon, it's always full again next month.

Last Friday a front came through and brought a little precipitation with it. It was late in the day so the sun was pretty low on the horizon when light broke through the clouds and created a rainbow in the eastern sky. I tied to capture it from the office window and got this shot.

The rainbow, another challenge in photography, is hard to see, but it's there. You can also see the progress in the landscaping. It's not much, but you can see they've been working on the "3" at the far end of the walkway to join the "4" and the "2." (Previous views here.) Close-up of the rainbow's end:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back Into the Swing

I guess I don't have enough of one thing for a post so I'll just summarize a bunch of things.

Went to Church on Sunday. After the sermon, a woman from our choir stood up to talk about MLK. She had been a student in Montgomery in the 50's and worked on campus in the admissions office. A frequent visitor to another woman in that office was a dashing polite man. She inquired of her colleague who that was and was introduced to Dr. King on his next visit to the office. After that he always greeted her and asked how she was. Later, this woman needed a new job and Dr. King was looking for a secretary at his church and offered her the job. She turned it down because she didn't think she could do the job to his expectations and maintain her studies. Sometime after that, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was bombed during the bus boycott. She still wonders what would have happened if she had taken the job. She went on with her story about her friendship with Dr. King. While she spoke I was made painfully aware how much I didn't know about Dr. King and how much he did for the people of our country.

After the touching speech by the woman in our own congregation, I was agreeable to going the the MLK inter-faith memorial service on Monday with AM. This, unfortunately, was boring. The person introducing the keynote speaker spoke almost as long as the speaker himself. While the main address was informative, it wasn't nearly as moving as the presentation the day before. And it ran long. The cool part of the service was the opening prayers in the Jewish and Islamic traditions, not something usually heard in the Presbyterian church.

Back in December I won some prizes from my husband's sports-talk radio station. Business hours to pick up the prizes correspond with my work hours so I've been prizeless. Monday afternoon I realized they might be open on my day off, and they were. I made the hour drive up the pike and collected my loot.

While I was up in that neighborhood, I stopped at one of the fabric meccas in the area, G-Street Fabrics. I had two items I wanted to shop for: a printed sweatshirt fleece and zipper slides for the massive amount of bulk zipper tape I have. The zipper tape is pretty useless if you can't zip or unzip it. The sweatshirt fleece collection was a big disappointment, they just had pastel solids, no cool prints. Oh-for-one.

The lady in the notions department got me a slider, but the sample of tape I brought was separated at the end. The clerk kept saying the one she got out was the right size and I kept trying to try it out to make sure it worked. She kept saying it wouldn't work because the zipper was already separated, but it was the right size. She wrote the ticket for 1 and slid it across the counter to me. I told her I needed 10. She was very surprised, but counted out 10 and added a zero to the ticket. She couldn't get rid of me fast enough. I have to open up the zipper tape a little to get the slider on, I don't know what her problem was. When I got home I cut another piece of zipper tape and tried out my new sliders. Wrong size. They would open the zipper, but wouldn't close it back. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH. Oh-for-two.

I called the store and explained what happened to the person who answered.
We don't do phone refunds.
I don't want a refund, I want to exchange these for ones that fit.
Please hold.
I'm now on the line with the notions department manager. I explain again. And how I felt rushed. I don't want a refund, can I mail these to you and you send me the correct size? Yes. Yay. I put the wrong sliders and a sample of my zipper tape in the mail yesterday, hopefully I'll get order back on Friday or Saturday.

A couple years ago I bought a spool of bulk zipper tape with the idea of making bags, like clutches and small purses. I never found the sliders I needed so I never succeeded with the project. Now I'm so close. I'll start taking orders when I get the sliders that work.

Last night Dan and I went out to the Rams Head again, this time to see Lori McKenna. It was a good show, even bought her CD on the way out. We left the kids by themselves and things seemed to have gone alright. But I got to bed late and now I'm tired. I need a nap.

Maybe that wasn't much of a good summary.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I hate when things are missing.

I've been listening to The Proclaimers on my iPod recently, a Scottish rock/pop duo. They are twins who have great harmonies, fabulous vocals, jangly guitars, and write fun lyrics. You might know I Wanna Be (500 miles). Most of the songs fall into a couple categories: love songs (Let's get married, I love ya and I wanna stay with ya/ have kids and grow gray with ya/ hold hands when we walk in the park/ oh, alright, you can have a cat as long as it barks), or drinking songs (The drink that I had three hours ago/ has been followed by 14 others in a steady flow). There are societal/political songs and a couple covers in the catalog too. One of my favorite songs is in a subset of love songs, songs about sex, called Oh Jean. It has a strong driving beat and a catchy chorus and it makes you wipe your brow at the end. Whew.

As I'm listening to my iPod I realize I'm missing one (or more) of the CDs, there songs I know but aren't listed. They aren't in our iTunes music library. So I go searching through all the CDs binders in the house to find them. No luck. I search all those stacks of plastic cases that have gotten shoved aside into nooks no-one knows about. I've looked in the kids' rooms. I've looked on the visor holder in the car. I've looked in the CD tray in the stereo we never use anymore. I've looked in the binders of software discs. Nada. Absolutamente nada.

Where's my copy of This is the Story? AAAAAAAAAAAAARG. (And no, it's not with my channel-locks, I looked.)

I hate it when I can't find something. Drives me absolutely nuts. Maybe I should call ahead now for a room (with a view, of course) at St. E's.

Must get CD! Must get it now.

iTunes doesn't have it.
The library doesn't have it. (Should be filed between Prince and Queen, by the way.)
Border's doesn't have it.
Nor does Barnes & Noble.
A quick trip to is fruitless.

Looks like Amazon is my only choice. Can I wait that long? There's a holiday on Monday to slow down shipping. sheesh.

Must find that CD.
Must find it now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Time for Launch

I'm happy it's Friday.

Not because it's the end of a hard work week and I need a break. It has been a hard week, two of my big products are being released today. Yesterday at 4:30 we were still having trouble with some of the underlying software. That was after I found some other problems earlier yesterday. One of these two clients (a new one this year) hadn't tested his parts enough and had questions for my other (experienced) client, who in return asked me. So I had things to tweak at the last minute.

And this morning I was still making other adjustments that came to light when I got in to the office. I have now pushed everything, all corrected versions and clean data, out to the production system. (And, thus, taking a blog break.)

I've done this before, this is my third year for one of these products, it's not a big deal. Usually. But this year we've changed both the underlying software to a completely new version (kinda like a XP to Vista change, but I hate Microsoft so I don't like using that analogy, but it's the best I've got at the moment), and a new Blade web server, (from a Sun machine, if you care). So a simple deployment of this product this year is complicated by all the new variables — on my part as well as all my clients' parts. I hope it works.

I've got two more deployments next Friday, and five more a week or two later. In February I'll need to have another product ready for usability testing, and in March I'll be migrating one or two more products to the new system. If all the prep work has gone smoothly, they'll get migrated while I'm on spring break with the family on the Dalmatian Coast.

While I'm glad I've got these products released today and I've got a break before I need to make sure next week's releases are ready, and working, and tested for goodness sake, I'm happy it's Friday for a completely different reason:

Tonight Friday Night Lights is on. It has become one of my favorite TV shows, certainly my favorite drama. Yeah, it's a show about high school football in Texas, but not really. It's about people and relationships, parents and children, murder and drugs. The characters aren't the usual perfect Full House-esque sit-com people, they have real issues.

We interrupt this post to bring you this:
Speaking of real issues, my supervisor just came to tell me he couldn't get any of the PDF's to open. The ones that are supposed to be in production today. sheesh. I can. Let me figure this out.

All fixed, where was I? What was wrong?
Oh, the default pdf wasn't declared so anyone using a test account printing a pdf would get a failure message. It wouldn't have been a problem in production because the users have that defined.

Anyway, Friday Night Lights, great show. I like the way the parents interact with each other and with the kids, the coach and his team. The conversations seem real, the writing is good. I look forward to watching it every week (I'll ask Dan "Are the panthers playing tonight?" instead of asking if it's on) and I'm into it to the point of standing and cheering when "our Dillon Panthers" are running in for a touch-down as if I were at the game in person. But it's really not about football. Give it a try, Fridays at 9:00 on NBC.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Let's Eat

I was lying in bed last night thinking of different things so I wouldn't think about the fact I was not yet asleep, and one of the things I tripped over was vegetables.

My son now likes broccoli. This is fabulous. This is fabulous because it's not a "white" food. For so many years he just ate pale food: french fries, grits, french fries, hot dogs, chicken nuggets with ranch dressing, french fries with ranch dressing, spaghetti-n-sauce. Not red sauce.

Early on in my marriage I found a recipe on the back of a box of tortellini for cream sauce. It's been a family staple ever since. The boy loved it then. And still does.

Nowadays, he "helps" me cook the sauce, he has to stir the sauce and control its destination, meaning it had to all go on his plate. Which meant I'd have to make another pot for the rest of us. In recent weeks he's understanding the concept of sharing the sauce and will pour some on each person's plate when it's time to serve.

The other night Dan and The Girl went to see the Wizards beat the Celtics (Yay!) and The boy and I had a dinner of spaghetti-n-sauce and broccoli. He at the broccoli first. I couldn't believe my eyes. This is like the day when your kid ate the chicken nuggets first before the french fries, except better.


  • Fix your favorite pasta according to the directions

  • in a small sauce pan, i prefer a heavy non-stick pan, over med-low heat, melt a couple tablespoons of butter. (probably 1 per person, I never really measured and the original recipe is long gone.)

  • stir in a couple ounces of parmesan cheese. I usually use shredded, but grated (yes, the stuff in the green can) melts faster.

  • don't get the butter too hot or you'll fry the cheese instead of melt it. (which, is itself a yummy treat, but not our goal here)

  • when it's all melty, like a big mess and you wonder if you're doing it right, add a couple ounces of cream. stir until smooth. I use a wooden spoon. I sometimes have to raise the heat to get the cheese to melt smoothly. If it's too thin, add more cheese and keep stirring. It should be thick like a good hollandaise, but not able to sit upright on its own plate.

  • pour over your pasta or put the pasta in the sauce to mix, then serve

It's not bad over broccoli, either.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Boring Post

My life is so boring right now I'm posting about passwords, for goodness sake. Sheesh. I got nuttin. No current construction projects. The painters came to work on the kitchen a couple weeks back so it's about done except for some trim work. I'm not working on any quilting projects, although I have a lot unfinished that could use some attention. I haven't knitted in weeks and still have that green sweater part-way done. You can see where this is going. Well, it's not going anywhere, really. I'm stagnant.

The other night I was boxing up some old software to Freecycle and found a disk I remembered fondly. Explore the Airport with Buzzy the Knowledge Bug A MAC/WIN software disk by Random House, 1995. Most of it is very juvenile, aimed at your average 5 year-old. Except for a game where you sort luggage into color-matching bins using reversing conveyor bins. The first 20 or 30 levels are no-brainers, very easy, then it got tricky, tricky enough to hold my attention. For a long time.

Well anyway, I found the disk and last night I put it in a couple different computers to see if it would work again and had success with the Toshiba laptop. I got up to level 49 before The Boy commandeered the computer. When I went to bed he was on level 61. This morning I opened the game to check his progress and he made it to level 84 before he went to bed. 84!

That's my boy!

Post Script: I checked my posting on the other laptop and this picture didn't come across. That's so weird! Oh well. I hope you can see it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The key is under the doormat

I work for a governmental agency which collects and tabulates data about citizens and businesses all over the country. These data are confidential so we have very secure computer systems. To get my PC booted up in the mornings I am prompted to key in five passwords at different points, the whole process takes about ten minutes.

A couple weeks ago a new requirement came down the line: we are now required to have a twelve character password for our main system. And it cannot be based on any word in any dictionary ever printed in any language, backwards or forwards. It has to have alpha characters, numeric characters and special characters. This was supposed to take effect next time your password was up for changing. So I tricked the system to let me use my ten-digit password for another month by changing it the day before the new requirement was to kick in. Pretty sneaky, huh? Except yesterday I got a message on login saying all my grace logins had expired and I had to change my password right then and there. What? So much for tricking the system.

Twelve characters.


Next month it'll be 30 characters, I'm sure.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In His Element

Monday, January 07, 2008

Catching Up

I started a new post last week and just never got around to finishing it. I've left it at the bottom of this one.

This weekend was a big one for my son. On Friday, he got to go to the greatest place on earth. And no, it wasn't HOM1. We made our semi-annual trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, land of indoor water slides. He had a good time. I'll post pictures when I can download them from my camera, I don't have a cable with me now. He's grown so much over the last year, he's easily identifiable from a distance. He's tall and scrawny. I saw him from across the water park carrying his tube up the steps to the slide. His profile took me instantly back to when I was a kid and my brother walked the same way.

Sunday, my son went skiing for the first time. He's participating in a skiing program for Special Needs Teens and Adults. For five weeks they take the skiers up to Liberty for the day, give the participants rental equipment and a lesson. One of the staff members told me when we picked him up last night, Kevin didn't follow instruction very well, he made no turns, just went straight down the mountain. I'm going to have to send a camera next week just so I can see him out there. I don't ski. I've tried a couple times in my life and I just don't have a fondness for that much snow in my face. Or my face in that much snow.

Last Thursday's Post

I've been contemplating new year's resolutions. I always want to do better, be better, but to actually declare a resolution to the world feels like I'm being set up for failure.

I need to resolve to be a better housekeeper and parent, which are the means to the end of being a better wife. Or is it the other way around?

I know better than to set the bar too high, but I still need to have goals. I've already mentioned balancing the checkbook. I paid some bills last night and wrote them down, even though some were paid on-line.

I need to remember to get a load of laundry through the whole cycle so I don't have to wash stuff over again that sits in the washer too long. Dernit, there're loads in the washer and dryer I need to move. Wonder if I'll remember to do that when I get home? I need to take care of my own clothes and get around to purging the clothes I haven't worn this century.

I need to plan meals better so we don't resort to delivery pizza and Chinese 4 times a week. Wednesday, I subscribed to a menu service for three months. I'm afraid no one else will be on board with me about it and I'll end up doing all the cooking and eating, they'll veto the menu and we'll end up having the same three dishes over and over all year.

I need to keep the paper piles down on my desk at work. So I can find things. And get work done.

I need to remember to take my new ADD med to help me remember to do all the things listed above. I finally went to see a psychiatrist and now I have no excuses.

Then, in the middle of all this contemplating, I get an email from my daughter's algebra teacher, two days into the new quarter, mind you:
Just as a "head's up", I wanted to let you know my findings about Fern's performance in Algebra. I honestly don't think unless the pressure is on, that she is doing what is necessary to earn passing grades in this class....

Last quarter Fern could have done much better if she had only turned in assignments, ... I then informed her that if she didn't do her part, her grades will continue to suffer. Fern claims to understand this, but she is easily distracted in class... she still didn't turn in any homework already for the this quarter. ...

Two days into the quarter and she has missing assignments! This is the child who wants to go to UVA and is failing high school algebra anyway. Now, I have to add to my list of resolutions to check behind my daughter and make sure she's done her homework. she says she has. What next, follow her to each class and make sure she turns it in? It put me in a real depressed mood when I got this news. It's hard enough to deal with my ADD, now I'm going to have to deal with hers.

1House of Mouse, a.k.a. Disney

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back to the Grind

Dan and I did have fun on new year's eve. I wore my hair pinned back with a clip I borrowed from The Girl. The crowd in the club skewed older and therefore dressed "down" more than I'd have liked. I had no idea how fancy to dress for the event so I went for the upper level of the range. And, yes, I was one of about 10 women who wore dresses, I had the fanciest. (Yay me!) Which means I was stared at a lot. I tried to remember to stand up straight and look like they were the ones who underdressed. It was a party, for goodness sake!

The crowd also seemed asleep for until midnight. I called the club the night before to get an idea of the schedule. Dinner was to be at 7:00 and the band was to start at 8:00. We arrived at 7:00, hors d'oeuvres were served at 7:30, dinner after 8:00, all while we were serenaded by acoustic classical guitar. For three hours. (That explains the sleepy part) The band came on at 10:00. sheesh. Still no dancing. Dan and I started it to some degree by dancing to Faithful and True, but the floor wasn't packed until after midnight and the horn blowing. And the kissing. A lot of kissing going on. Except for the couple next to us. They just sat there, and didn't move, except to drink and go to the restroom. Go figure.

On the way to the car we got a comment about Dan's tie going with my dress. It made it all worth it. We left at about 12:40 so we could get home and relieve the sitter. And The Boy was still awake. sheesh.

Now I'm back at work, wading through emails and checking on everything that rolls over with the new month. Next week we'll be getting all the annuals ready.

I need to balance my check book, it hasn't been done since I did it in August, and get a new register for '08. I also write 2008 on a bunch of checks in the pad ahead of time so I get used to the idea of the new year.

The boy was up in time for the bus this morning, which is a miracle because he hasn't gotten up before 10 this whole break, sometimes 11:00. I left for work before The Girl was up, told her if she missed the bus, she had to walk.