Boy, oh boy. First a blinky star and then 200 stock options!

I got a blinky star! (You got a what? A blinky star!)

Today is Dell's all-employee event (36,000 Dell employees, 50,000 UT students on their first day of class, Austin's deficient highway infrastructure. Ugh.), so each team is doing things to identify itself. The theme of the event is Wild, Wild E (as in Dell's new Dell-E-com branding), so western hoo-hah has been in abundance this month. As a member of the IT department, I got a snazzy, long-sleeve, embroidered denim shirt; a straw coyboy hat (no comment); a glow-stick necklace to use as a hat band (pre-snapped, so no longer glowing); and just now: a red bicycle-reflector star with a blinky light inside! Plus, we've been promised the opportunity to see Michael Dell in chaps.

Man, oh man.

I finally feel compelled to link to another blog simply because the person behind it has such wonderful things to say, in such a wonderful manner.

Feng shui isn't so hard, when you remember the most basic tenet: If the space makes you feel good, it's right.

We're using our Ikea furniture (and way cool paper lamps) to create a warm conversation space in our living room. Last night, we put up the Ivar (Ikea's modular pine system) bookcase and put books and stuff (including our galloping horse sculpture, a gift from my old boss, Dr. Kuo, symbolizing the way our success should go charging forward) on the shelves. The set-up uses three of the Ivar end-pieces, so it makes two sets of shelves, side by side. Like this: [|] The shelves on the two sides don't line up, so we don't have any harsh horizontal lines across it. Then, to make interesting space and to display our knick-knacks in a way that doesn't make them look like cluttered knick-knacks, we would fill a shelf most of the way with books, but leave a space at one end or the other for some special item (like the horse, or my little stuffed Tigger). It was very much like laying out a two-column newspaper story with pictures; both deal with flow.

We're using the Ivar-built coffee table (only way to get one low enough to sit at) to form a boundary between the living room and the now-extant hallway. That makes the living room into this cozy little space in front of the fireplace. We'll fill it with big pillows, and everybody can come over to lounge on the floor with us. ^_^

Either my readership has increased, or my audience prefers silly polls. The results of the choco-vote are three for dark, five for milk, and a surprising six for white. Who says you can't learn things from the internet?

So please, if you would, take a crack at my new poll.

I gave my first Toastmasters speech today! The first in the workbook is the "ice breaker," so I had to talk about *me* for four to six minutes. But it went really well. Everybody gave me very pleasant feedback, and I won the "best speaker" ribbon (out of three) for today. ^_^

With a rebel yell, she cried, "IKEAAAAAA!"

I am such a nerd. But it's fun stuff. Jon and I went to Ikea in Houston last weekend. We got a bunch of cool stuff, including some Ivar pieces, but they were out of stock of some of the components, so we'll have to go back. Still, it won't be long before I'm comfortable having guests over; it's starting to look like a home.

Woah. Just the other day, my poll had no votes for white chocolate, and today it has *four*. Jon, are you skewing the results?

Family Values:

A while ago, I was reading Drawing on the Funny Side of the Brain, by Christopher Hart, about drawing comic strips. (It actually detailed variations in graphical elements like stance and facial features that were inherently more funny than others. Fascinating, even for the non-artist, which I am.) Hart discussed how the topics in successful comic strips have to remain pretty conservative and run-of-the-mill. The primary readership of the funny pages is in the senior-citizen range, and people don't like to be challenged or shocked at 7 in the morning over their toast and coffee. I remember when many papers dropped For Better or For Worse when Lynn Johnston brought one of her characters out of the closet.

Suddenly today (Microwaves are great for introspection. Ovens give you enough time to go off and do something else; microwaves are fast enough that you might as well stand there and think.), I remember The Lockhorns, the most offensive comic strip—consistently so, too—that I have ever read. It's about a dysfunctional married couple who hate each other. That's the comedic conflict. That's the whole gag. Over and over and over and...

I stopped reading it years ago, when I got old enough to realize that I didn't have to read every strip on the pages and that some were never going to be funny (at least Mark Trail tells a story. Slowly.). And yet The Lockhorns continues to run, while more interesting, more touching, and better scripted strips receive nasty letters and get dropped.

(Simply my opinion, but it seems that all the crappy strips come from King Features, while a lot of gems are syndicated by United Media.)

This is part of why I love on-line comic strips. There is no syndicate. There are no advertisers to appease. The readership can be counted on to be more liberal and more willing to simply not visit a site that irritates them, rather than to feel the need to squash it out of existance.

Plan Nine Publishing carries a bunch of great on-line features. I read regularly:

And I recently picked up Clan of the Cats, about a 20-something were-panther witch (I can relate). Jon regularly reads Sin Fest, which takes regular pot shots at religion and pets.

(Since we're talking about comics) The Best Ever (*sniff*): Calvin and Hobbes.