An anonymous box of cookies
on my desk.

Chocolate chip cookies.

Dashing off for presents
over my lunch hour.

What errands do you s'pose
Santa runs over his?
Windows won't boot?


Let's see what this Linux box can do.
Funny how

random things

are never satisfyingly random.
Matinee for two: $10

Surcharge for ordering online: $1

Taking your geek to Lord of the Rings on Christmas Eve:
Christmas is only a week awah—
omygosh, it's Wednesday.
Rants get things off your chest.

Affirmations get you off your butt.
Upgrading a mere browser causes the operating system not to load.
Because it is inextricably bundled in.

My team really came through on the costume contest. There were goggles and kneepads and jumpsuits and (computer) mice. We were quite a troupe.

I really like these people, y'know?

My monitor mirror has gotten a lot more entertaining since I dyed my hair a lighter shade of blond.

Boy, if there were any doubt about Dell being beige... I think, like, three people dressed up. Sigh.

I've gotten most of my team to consent to being "bug" exterminators. (We're programmers. Get it?) I made 13 little patches to make our uniforms. They have green binary in the background, a big blue bug, and a red no-more over top, a la Ghostbusters.

Over the weekend, Jon and I, along with Ben and Tosha, made masks and costumes. This coming weekend we're going to the Texas RenFest. This year's theme is fairies, and Tosha (who made my wedding dress) is making me a spiffy fairy costume. Now, since there's a limit to the amount of pink I can wear without spontaneously combusting, and because Halloween is all about making masks, I made a creepy mask to cover the lower half of my face. It's just kind of an exaggeration—take beauty and stretch it until it isn't. It has a hinged jaw again, like last year's, but the implementation is more subtle. I'll then put a veil over it, to increase the suggestion of creepiness. (Take a lesson from Jaws: What you don't show is much scarier.) I've got a lacy fan to hold in front of my face, too, allowing me to reveal the horrrrrible visiage at just the right moment.

We did a whole lot of moving last night. We need to be finished tonight. There are just those depressing dribs and drabs left now. Bleah.

Hee hee, I was simply noting that we have phone service again, with that post on the 15th, but Tameka took it as a sign--or perhaps a directive--and called. ^_^ I encourage each of you to do likewise.

Also, I'm enjoying the discussion in my comments thread for yesterday's post. I finally had something to say that got people talking. Cool!

Oh, by the way:


Oh, wow. We saw the most incredible movie on Saturday. I'm so impressed. The Others, starring the always beautiful and surprisingly talented Nicole Kidman, is a suspensful, mysterious ghost story. It creates real tension, rather than just relying on startling the audience (though one bit made the girl behind me scream--hee hee). There's no gore. It's really just a skillfully told ghost story. Jon and I have been picking it apart since Saturday afternoon; there are so many intriguing levels. I highly recommend it.

After being without phone service for over a week, I received a call from a SWBell technician from within my apartment. We've been going 'round-and-'round with them since last Monday. We finally got an important clue when we called our voicemail--and someone answered! Ah-ha! They plugged our line into the wrong apartment's jack. I can't wait to dash home and hear that comforting dial tone.

We do very much like our new apartment, though. It's nice. 9-foot ceilings are a joy.

So I found I had a flat tire this morning. My first thought was to call Jon, but he was already at work. My second thought was to call AAA. I finally calmed myself down enough to admit that I was perfectly capable of putting the spare on, myself. Good grief. However, when I got to the "Remove the lug nuts" stage, I found I could not do it myself. Those bolts weren't moving. A man cutting the lawn at the apartment complex came over to help and finished the job. I was quite grateful, but I did want to do it myself. Oh well. Now I get to figure out how to get a tire repaired myself. That's good enough, I guess.

I had a scary thought last night, watching the news. Clearly, terrorists are attacking our economy more than our government, with the WTC and then with sending anthrax to Microsoft. So here's my thought: If you attack the world's largest software manufacturer, wouldn't you be likely to attack the world's largest PC manufacturer? This is purely my own speculation, but it's a sobering thought.

How do I get myself into these things? Here's the note I just sent to Jon:

You like projects, right? And challenges, too, yes? Okay, I just found out, at 3:30, that each VP in I/T is expected to have a team costume for the All Hands meeting on Tuesday, 10/23 (not next Tuesday, but the one after). We, the FISH Committee, thought it would be smart to have a group fish costume. Something like a Chinese dragon would be awesome. With me so far? Thinking about papier mache yet? See how this relates to us? So, do you think, over this weekend and next, we could make a fish head and tail (tail might be cut out of foam instead) out of papier mache?

Better question: Why does Jon put up with getting dragged into these crazy schemes?

Wow. I went to the Learn About Your Benefits Package fair, and a strange man stuck a Stressdot[tm] on me. It's a little dot, the size of a hole-punch, and it has been stuck to the back of my hand. It is looking at me as I type this, in fact. It changes color based on my skin temperature, to indicate my relative stress level.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a Mood Ring for the New Millenium.

Mine's dark blue right now, indicating that I'm a pretty froody chick. Apparently, breathing on the back of your hand calms you down.

Happy Palindrome Day

My family has been having a lot of fun with dates lately. I think 10/10/01 is neat looking, but it isn't the most interesting. Granddad wrote to say that 10/1/01 is a palindrome, as is 10/02/2001. My uncle John then pointed out that 10/11/01 works upside down and backwards. Hee hee.

Wow, 2015 will have an especially excellent Pi Day, giving two more decimal places: 3/14/15. Well, if you want to properly round rather than truncate, I guess you should wait until 2016. Aw, heck with that. Big party on 3/14/15 9:26. With pie, of course.

My phone number is staying the same, by the way. But please give me a call to get the new address before mailing any packages.

I think, perhaps, if I focus my attention very, very close, I can be happy. So, to that end:

We went camping with the Unitarian church on Saturday. I so needed that. A while back, we'd gotten ourselves a little 8' x 7' dome tent, which accomodates two—if they like each other a lot. We set it up in the living room last week, for practice, but other than that, we'd never used it. The top is mesh, so you can lie on your back and look at the sky. It then has a separate piece that snaps over top, to keep out the dew and keep in the warmth. It was too chilly on Saturday to sleep with the top down, but the sky was incredible. My only cue that it is actually fall, Orion now rises high into the sky during the night. At 5 in the morning (desperate bathroom run), the waning gibbous moon was bright enough to see by. Imagine if it had been full! The night was beautiful, and the air was deliciously crisp.

On Sunday, we enlisted the help of our Friends With Trucks and moved all of our big things into the new apartment. We then slept there last night. We are discovering, in subtle ways, that this new apartment is bigger everywhere. Most subtle but most significant is the 9-foot ceiling. I feel like I can finally breathe there, not realizing I'd been holding it for the past year.

Sunday, seeking Prairie Home Companion, we switched on NPR long enough to hear the words "cruise missiles" and then switched it off. Oh, look how nice the new apartment is. How very nice.

I'm working my way through Sam's Teach Yourself PL/SQL in 21 Days, with my manager's blessing.

I lack the self-discipline for this.

Good grief. Did I mention that Jonathan won the Area-level Table Topics competition for Toastmasters? His humorous speech came in second. Now he's on to the Division, and then the District. I expect he'll do quite well.

Oh, hey, by the way. My pal Dave tells me his referrer logs show a lot of traffic coming from a comment he left on this very page. (In fact, right now, it seems to be his number one referral.)

So, just think of it: Leave me a little comment, and tah-dah, more traffic to your site!

Friends helping friends, that's what it's all about, Baby.

In what way does "Sharon" sound like "Susan"? I am constantly amazed at how many people make that error.

Ah, here we go. The Poltergeist snaps you into action from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

Yeah, it felt like that.

On a more upbeat note, Ben and Tosha took us to Fiesta Texas in San Antonio yesterday. We rode an incredible assortment of roller coasters. It was a marvelous day. Let's see...

I was about to say, "All coasters are steel, except where noted," except that they were *all* steel. Is the wooden coaster a thing of the past? That would be sad. But perhaps they just can't compete for the affections of today's thrill-a-minute audiences.

We started with the Boomerang, which pulls you backwards up the hill and then drops (back through the station), where you then zip off through a loop and an inverted turn and some other confusing things, until you climb up a hill that matches the initial one. And then... kwa-ping! Off you go, backwards through the whole thing again. Tee hee hee! Backwards was definitely better.

Next, we were disappointed by the Warner Brothers coaster, partly because we walked about a mile through the maze, built to accomodate crowds that would never be there again. It had the look and feel of a wooden coaster, yet it was steel. It just never managed to be particularly thrilling. There were some cute cartoon references scattered through the maze and along the coaster track, but, well, ho-hum. And then when we disembarked, we were funnelled through a Warner Brothers logo store. Tacky.

Not to worry, because (bum-ba-da-Daaah-dum) Superman was next! *repressed chortle of glee* This may well be one of my new favorite coasters. It's "floorless" (so, neither upright, nor suspended. Just chairs without floors.), and because I was wearing sandals, I had to ride barefoot. Woo hoo hoo! The loops and turns were wonderfully enhanced by the misty wind rushing between my toes. Somewhere through the track there was a corkscrew turn that caught me totally by surprise and elicited a real scream. Genius!

The order of events gets a little fuzzy for me here, but we went on the bumper cars, to Jon's great delight, and the carousel, at my request. And then we went on the Wave Swinger (Dorney Park name)/Die Fliedermaus (Fiesta Texas name), the big swing thingy. You know what I mean. Once again, I was "required" to ride barefoot. Oh, this was a true delight. I took off my hat, held my arms out to the sides, closed my eyes, and let my shoeless feet hang free in the wind. "I'm flying, Jack." Jon replied, "I still haven't seen that movie." Hmph, boys.

Then, with questionable wisdom, we had lunch. The less said, the better.

Ooh! Go Carts! Ah, but no sandals allowed--and this time, no bare feet, either. So Tosha and I sat and watched as our boys raced around the track. Very earnest, they were. Maybe this is the way to get Jon jazzed about learning to drive... (Better that than the bumper cars.)

Okay, so there's this huge pillar into the sky, this Masochist's Tower of Babel, where you can willingly get flung into the heavens and then unceremoniously dropped back out of them. And Tosha just had to go. And, therefore, so did I. Because it holds 12 people at a time and this was the first attraction that we actually had to wait for (it was after noon by now), I got to watch this so called "Scream" quite a few times. Folks sit on little chairs, their toes free in the breeze (moreso, for the sandal wearers), they get strapped in, and then Pow!, they're gone. Then they drop back down, seemingly in free fall, bounce back up like a bungee cord, get a few seconds to contemplate their fate at the top, and then Zing!, back towards the ground. Whooptee. But I wasn't going to be stopped by some irrational thing like fear. And, I got to take my shoes off again. Turns out, it was wonderful. I sat on the side away from the park, and I could see for miles--red, desert-y rocks, patches of greenery, flat land stretching away forever. And the drop really wasn't quite free-fall, so I didn't get that tingly feeling in my tummy. If the line weren't so long, I think I would have pushed to do it again, so I could get a different view.

Oooh, the Poltergeist. Now here is an impressive coaster. The train fills up in the station and then--kwa-ping, it's gone. No chain, no laborious climb up a hill, just instant speed. It was so surreal looking from the station. Even more so from the train. So we're fired out of the station like a rail gun and catapulted into a dense tangle of turns and loops. As the ride started to wind down, with momentum running out, we then start to go faster and faster, unbelievably so. The sense of speed was probably augmented by the fact that reason says we should have been slowing down. More swoops, more screams, and then, rest, and rolling into the station. Wild! We figure it must use electromagnets, which made Jon realize the pun in the name: A poltergeist throws things around without touching them. It is a masterpiece of technology.

Was that all? I think so. It was a very full day, and we all realized that we are, in fact, aging. We finished up with a funnel cake, for old times' sake. Then back to Ben and Tosha's for water, pasta, and recovery.

Ah, dentistry.

Went to the dentist this morning, about four months overdue for my four-month cleaning. I got a deep gum cleaning *shudder* and a good scraping *goosebumps*. I also made a follow-up appointment for October 4th, to get impressions taken for a new bite guard, to protect my teeth from grinding at night. This dentition thing is, like, a full-time job.

So, the dentist appointment was at 9:00, so I figured I'd just go to it directly. I got into the office at 10:30 and got rounded up at 11 for a farewell luncheon for a co-worker. Back in the office at 1, full of tofu and cheesecake, punting around and feeling sleepy. But everything is nearly ready for my code deployment next Friday. Yay.

I'm telling you, we need nap rooms...

Back in the groove. Making up for last week's inability to program, getting back on schedule. Also, made some headway on the project Dad asked me to do for his company. Woo woo.

Watch out for spam collecting donations. That would be the easiest scam in the book. Stick to reputable sources.

Happy update of reassuring news items:

My Uncle David is alive and well! He lives in California and travels back and forth to New York all the time. I finally found my aunt, his sister, online, and she gave me the reassuring news that she has talked to him.

My best friend Tameka has a brother who was at the Pentagon and stepped out to get something from his car at just the right moment, so he is fine, too.

And beloved Faith in New York is fine and has found all of her friends who still worked in the WTC, and they are fine.

To my knowledge, no one I know was harmed.

I just had a very illuminating conversation. It turns out that the irritating guy listening to music without headphones... is using headphones. He just has it *that* loud. Yikes.

Time Bandits was good. The DVD has commentary from Terry Gilliam, which I hope to listen to tonight. ^_^

My e-friend Michael over at Agent9 shares a nice sentiment: There are so many heroes.

Surely you've heard about the request to wear red, white, and blue tomorrow. I like it. When I got the (first) email about it, I was struck by a great idea that I'm going home to paint on a t-shirt tonight: A sunrise, with the horizon washed in red, white, and blue (so that the sun is rising over the flag), with the text, "It is darkest before the dawn."

And now, after a day of using Blogger to keep me sane(ish), I'm heading home. A coworker has lent me Time Bandits. Should be a good evening.

I. Got. Stuff. Done.

Programming stuff, even. Put the headphones on, loaded about 50 mp3s into Sonique, hit Shuffle a few times and then Play, and programmed. Whee.

Ah-ha. Reblogger lost its old hosting location, hence the errors on the page and in the commenting system. Jesse has found a new one, so we're back in business.

I was getting dressed this morning, trying to make as little noise and light as possible, and I noticed that Jon was smiling at me. His eyes were just barely open, and his brain was ever so slightly awake, and he was just smiling at me.

So I have now decided that being smiled at by the sleepy person you love is simply the best way to start a day.

I love my text editor even more. Select a chunk, hit Shift+tab, and it scoots it out one level.

So, what a disconcerting state of affairs. If Reblogger is down, my blog is offline. Gotta get my own PHP-powered commenting system going.

Humorous Speech contest tonight, with Toastmasters. I'm competing, but I'm more nervous about the logistics of the contest, since I'm the club President. No real responsibility, but all of the blame. Sigh.

Code for my project at work is working! This morning, when you edited an item and clicked Save, it cheerfully deleted the item. Then, when you edited this other thing over here, my code very helpfully deleted everything on the page! I've fixed that now. I am much relieved.

I have an unpleasant lump on my finger. I think it's a spider bite. The area is all red (right on my cuticle. Yow!) and puffed up. And boy, does it itch!

What? No, I'm not going to tell you what my humorous speech topic is. Espionage, and all that. I'll tell you tomorrow.

Oh, shoot! We'd meant to borrow Time Bandits from Ben before leaving yesterday. I just have a hankering to see it again. Jon's only seen it once and doesn't get my references, so we *have* to remedy that.

Ohmygoodness, I love my text editor. I just discovered that clever little UltraEdit will indent an entire chunk of code if you highlight it and press the tab key. See, you use levels of indentation to keep the hierarchy of your code straight, and if you want to move this piece from here to there, you'll probably have to go along and put a tab in front of every line, to scoot it in to where it's supposed to be. But not with UltraEdit! Select the piece, press the tab key, and viola: Indentation.

I am so happy.

I did it, I did it, I did it! I fixed my broken code that has been plaguing me since Friday. I had a moment of insight in the locker room this morning after T'ai Chi. The insight was right, but I implemented it wrong this morning, so I thought I hadn't solved it. Looking over the flowchart I made this weekend, I saw where I'd goofed. Tweak here and there... and Kwa-Pow, it works! Whoopee.

I am so thoroughly disoriented. After an arid stretch of something like 50 days, it has now rained every day for the past five. I keep thinking I'm waking up in State College. Do you suppose Noah checked the paper every day: "What, again?"

The rain is quite needed, but we're starting to get flooding in various areas around the city. Not that I think I have the necessary connections, but it can't hurt to ask:

Could you make it, like, one rainy day a week for the next few months? Wednesdays would be good. Thanks. And, uh, I love your work in the sunset circuit.


Continuing to enjoy our Clerks DVD, we listened to the commentary from Kevin Smith last night. Unfortunately, the room during the recording was full of people, and you could never really hear anyone but Kevin. It did confirm, however, that Jason Mewes really is a lot like Jay, the character. Jay the actor spent most of the commentary session drunk and passed out, punctuated by a few "lucid" moments containing the f-word and some permutation of "snoochie boochies."

Yeah, it's worth renting.

That was cathartic. I think I feel better. Programming stuff is going swimmingly, at least. I'm back in that mode where I'm focused all day and then am surprised to notice that I've been here for ten hours. I love it. I feel smart.

It sure is Tuesday, ain't it?

Um... We had a big I/T All Hands meeting today. That kind of sucked the life out of me. Or, at least, any creative spark I may have had.


I'm not able to distill the key attributes of site designs I really, really like, the ones that make me go "Oo." But, Textism is one.

One more note on how to talk to I/T: You don't need to use exclamation points. Nobody's that important.

Along the same line, though, error messages should never have exclamation points either. Half the stress in the workplace is caused by unnecessarily alarming alert messages.

I finished the Gilda Radner book, It's Always Something, this morning. It made me cry, often ('course, I was reading it within a day of getting married, when nearly anything would make me cry). Last night I dreamt I was undergoing chemotherapy, but trying not to let my friends know, but trying to explain why I couldn't walk all the way up Shortlidge (State College) in the snow, and would they please drop me off at my door? They were more of acquaintences, actually.

Shrinky Dinks make me so happy. Ooooh, you can buy them in bulk!

So anyway, wedding. It was a terrific party, and I'm kinda sad to be back at work. There's almost too much to report; I'm overwhelmed by the pressure of having to sum it up in a few paragraphs. Briefly, though, I'm married, I'm so in love, and lots of wonderful family members and friends were there to dance with us. Good food, though I only got the one bite of cake, and the site, the Barnhouse Village, was really outstanding. The bridal suite has a four-poster bed and a hot tub, and they had this wonderful dessert wine waiting for us (and everything tastes better in champagne flutes). It was just really fun, the whole week, goofy girl-tears aside.

Yesterday we played hookey from work, rented movies, and played video games. Ben and Tosha had left a goody basket on our doorstep, with wine, cheese, *fresh bread*, chips, and salsa. We haven't actually dug into those yet, not quite being properly hungry all day, but we're quite eager. I did snag a piece of bread on Sunday night, when it was still warm. Aren't they awesome?

And I've decided to be Sharon Jeanne Cichelli Leistiko. Sharon J. C. Leistiko. Jon says, any name that shares initials with a messiah has to be good. Now I just have to figure out how to make this transition, paperwork-wise.

I can't win. My chewing gum has a health warning on it. It contains something that causes cancer in lab rats. Currently I'm reading Gilda Radner's autobiographical story of her battle with cancer, It's Always Something.

C'mon, people, I have to do something with my jaw. Sigh.

Posting from PA... (It's cooler here. Whew.) So, we have some pictures of the ceremony with the JP, uploaded for your enjoyment. We're still learning with the camera, so some shots are blurry: with the flash, everything looks austere and terrible; without it, the shutter speed is too slow to avoid serious blurriness. We're thinking about putting a filter over the flash or the lens. I'll let you know.

Wow. You leave a poll up long enough, and eventually every option will get at least one vote. And here it is: Someone has endorsed hyphenating two three-syllable names. Golly.

What a weekend.

We started Saturday morning with a Toastmasters club contest. Jon competed in both the humorous speech and table topics competitions...and won first place in both! I was a timer for the contest, which was just plenty of involvement for me. After that, we got my dress from Natosha, packed it up, and mailed it off. Mom should get it by Tuesday morning, in time to take it to the dry cleaners for a pressing. ...And then, we went to the office of the Justice of the Peace and got married. Married. Maaaaarrrrried. Married. Right.

The ceremony was really nice, actually. I enjoyed what the Justice said, about how Texas doesn't marry us, and he doesn't marry us--we marry us--and about our love being strong enough for us to stand as individuals as well. Ben and Tosha were there, putting their house warming party on hold in order to be there, and they brought me a white iris so that I had a flower to hold. Mo and Jon also attended, and it was great to have them. Afterwards, we all went back to the house warming party, and Ben fed us incredible food, and I tried to get used to the word "husband."

Then on Sunday, we took care of some more wedding errands at the mall, had one last dance lesson (more after the wedding, but last for now), and then got together with Adam, one of my best friends, who is down visiting his brother. We took them out for barbecue, overshopped at Central Market, strolled around the Capitol building, and then took Adam to see the bats at Congress Avenue. They did not disappoint. Then, to complete the Austin-in-Brief tour, Amy's Ice Cream on Guadelupe. The coolest girl was working behind the counter. Usually, the guys will flip the ice cream scoops (and often catch them), but girls hardly ever have the guts. Not so, with this chick. The line was out the door and into the parking lot, so to help move things along, she was handing out samples of ice cream, so that people could make up their minds more easily. No, let me amend that: she was not handing out samples, she was throwing them. With a little wooden spoon of "Turkish Coffee," she calls to the man behind me, "Can you catch it?" He says, "No!" and then does, because she's already thrown it. Then I ask for a sample... "Can you catch it?" "No!!" *catch* I asked her, "Does everybody say 'no'?" She said that they do. Anyway, to be sure Adam got the full Amy's experience, I told her that this was his first visit to Austin. She tossed and caught one scoop, and for another... she handed Adam a bowl. Luckily, he used to play lacrosse. It was great.

So I had a completely fantastic, totally non-restful, vow-exchanging weekend. I'm pooped.

You may not have been thirsty, but when they tell you this section of the city has no water, you will suddenly become desperately thirsty. It feels like the stiflingTexas heat is pressing on the windows, squeezing us, wringing out any water that may remain.

The city expects to have water restored in half an hour, but it's still a weird feeling. Never forget your dependence on technology and societal infrastructure.

Password madness

My network password expired, so I created a new one. I then spent all day typing the wrong one each time I sat down to unlock my machine. Then some other network things got hinky, and I got locked out of my account. So I called the helpdesk and had them automatically reset it. That then prompted me to create a new, as-yet-unused password.

I am completely befuddled.

You're not a real geek if you don't have desk toys.

My co-workers threw me a surprise happy-wedding party during our staff meeting today. They had a card, gifts, and a whole mess of desserts, along with guests who wouldn't normally have been at the staff meeting. I must have looked like a goof, since I was totally caught by surprise and blushed a lot, but it was just so awesome. I really like working with these people, and I genuinely like them, too. ^_^

They gave me a gift certificate to a local theater, and some of the aforementioned desk toys: a squishy tube thing, Silly Putty, and a dancing gorilla water toy (remember the things with a column full of water and a big push-button on the bottom, and pushing the button made stuff inside the column move, like swirling up rings so you could hook them on a spike? Yeah, like that. With a gorilla.)

As unfathomable as it may seem, this turn of events has made me yet goofier. tee hee

Do you suppose it would be inappropriate to go home over my lunch hour to check on my camera, play with it, take it out for a walk and refill its water bowl...

Oooooooh, Toy!

Got the camera last night. It is so cool. I'm pretty handy with it in Auto mode; I've started in on the 190-page Guide to Digital Photography now, to learn how to do cool things with aperture settings and shutter speeds.

It's a real paradigm shift, though. It's very different to take pictures where there isn't a sense of wasting film and processing costs and you can get immediate feedback. It's freeing.

A little digging regarding the digital camera I ordered on line revealed that the company did not have it in stock, despite mentioning nothing of the kind on their site. I got rather nervous about getting ripped off (relieved a bit because I'd used my MasterCard, so I could dispute the charge), but I called them today, and they were quite willing to cancel the order. We'll see if it successfully gets cancelled, but I got the impression everything would be fine. So, we're going out tonight to go buy one from a brick-and-mortar after all. I can't wait!

We've been listening to stories on tape by Stephen King. They're a lot of fun! We pile a whole bunch of pillows in the living room, light a bunch of candles, and, optionally, snack on things like strawberries and chocolate. Just last night, we listened to Rob Lowe read "Dolan's Cadillac." A few days before, it was Yeardly Smith on "Rainy Season." (There is nothing quite so surreal as hearing Lisa Simpson say the f-word.) Whoopi Goldberg read one that I fell asleep during (no fault to author or reader, I was just super snuggled). But the real triumph is Tim Curry reading "Crouch End." He gives every character a different voice, a different dialect--his American is really quite good--and the story is a Cthulhu story. What a hoot.

Boy, they'll let anybody get married. No extrance exam or nuthin'. I just turned in the marriage license to the Justice of the Peace for our appointment on Saturday. That, and a whole chunk of cash, as they take only cash, and don't give change. Your government in action. Or, mine, anyway.

This is so close!

When stuck for what songs to list on your wedding DJ's request list, the best brainstorm-freer is to put a stamp on an envelope and seal the list inside.


Hey, wow, nifty! Reblogger is a new blog commenting system, to replace BlogVoices, which was forced to close its doors. Finally, I can hear from you again!

Therefore, tell me why you are voting for the various name options that you are. I'm really shocked at how high a rating "Cichelliko" is getting; perhaps society (the web-enabled, anyway) is ready for some revolutionizing of the way we think of marriage. I know I am.

In other news, we bought a digital camera and all its accoutrement this weekend. UPS should deliver it early this week. I can hardly wait. But it does herald ominous things for the paradigm of the brick-and-mortar store: It was cheaper--by a lot--to buy it online and have it over-nighted. And we still have a return policy, a service number to call, and Nikon's manufacturer's warranty. Granted, we ordered through the website of a brick-and-mortar, so maybe there's hope. But this is the harbinger of another mass extinction. Evolve or die, folks.

Jon and I also went for another drive, with Jon at the helm. Once again, we toured the lovely and scenic Dell parking lot. He's gettin' there.

Much errand running, this weekend. In six days, I will be a wife. Heaven help me.

One of the first projects for my digital camera, other than the wedding, is a website about stick-figure abuse. You know those signs, warning you of all the awful things that can happen to you? Dreadful abuses are being perpetrated against stick figures, just to make those signs for you. Shameful! So I want to capture the atrocities on film and post them, to raise awareness and promote advocacy. My boss has already sent a marvelous contribution to my collection. You can, too.

How to Talk to I/T

So, you've been given the dreaded missive, "Go ask I/T." Well, here are Sharon's handy tips for getting along with the programmer in your life.

  1. You're allowed to ask for a feature that sounds tough to create. Challenge is good, and new ideas are better.

  2. Tell us (and our managers) when we do something you like, too. We are people, and praise is remembered when you submit your next request.

  3. Do not preface your support requests with, "For some strange reason..." You know and I know that it is either a bug in the code, a problem with the network, or a mistake by the user. Just ask your question, already.

  4. Don't suggest how the code should do what you want it to do. We know how to program.

  5. Look at the prototype more than three days before the release date. Heck, let's go wild and say more than a month before.

  6. We don't like business jargon any more than you like technical jargon. Let's hear it for simple, clear writing!

  7. Remember that our success is directly tied to your success. Why would we want to make a product you don't like? Think of this relationship as a partnership.

  8. Feeding your programmer chocolate makes for tighter code and faster response times. This programmer, anyway.

There's something fun about sitting in a meeting, chin resting on cupped hands, grinning wolfishly for no apparent reason. Especially when the non-apparent reason is simply that it's fun to grin wolfishly in a meeting.

I think I did have a reason, though. I'm going to be somebody's wife in less than two weeks. Thankfully, though, it's a nice somebody. And I've accomplished the hardest task on my wedding to-do list: Found a gift for my dad. ^_^

If you've been taking notes (and if I've actually stated things overtly), you'll have noticed that we'll be getting married by a Justice of the Peace a week from Saturday and then having a ceremony with family, friends, pomp, and circumstance a week later. Chatting with Jon last night about which day to celebrate as the anniversary, I hit upon an idea: Celebrate the whole week, like Advent, with little presents for seven days. He said it was a great idea and developed a gleam in his eye that made me very uncomfortable, wondering what Origami Boy would do with a whole week for our first anniversary, the paper anniversary. But Jon had one condition: I don't tell Hallmark about it and give them the chance to commercialize it. So, if you work for Hallmark, you are getting verrrry sleeeepy, your eyes are getting heeeeeaavy, you are forgetting everything you have read in this paragraph. You will awake, refreshed and aroused, when I snap my fingers.


and so everything worked out for the best, except we were never able to get the peanut butter out of his fur.

Oooooh, t'ai chi makes me so h'ap pi! My back feels great. My knees and ankles are very aware of themselves currently, but I think that just means they're getting stronger. I could eat a whole cow by myself right now, though.

Renewed our lease last night, at the last possible moment. That wasn't deliberate; it was just such an obvious thing for us, why go fill out paperwork? But our rent is staying at the same rate, though we're no longer getting the first-year, major-employer discount of $10/month, but instead they gave us an incentive of $250 off the first month's rate. So it works out to being $10 and change less, overall. Sweet!

So, yes, the housing market is finally calming down to sane levels. And with the new management at our complex, we've been getting better service. We got a new dishwasher a bit ago. I'm now ready to tackle the two leaking toilets (leaking into the bowl; they just run periodically. Wasteful, not wet.) and the drippy faucet. I bet once those three springs are tightened up, we'll see a dramatic reduction in water costs every month (and my conscience will breathe easier).

And Jon adjusted the location of his blog. But turn down the brightness on your monitor first... my eyes, my eyes...

Are you sick of wedding updates yet? Yeah, me, too.

Alright then, a proposal:

You may all start calling me "Tex" now.

Thank you.

My mother writes:

Dear Texas,

Yee Haw! Happy Wedding!

The magical, mystical shirt of non-staining.

Perhaps it is indicative of the kind of day I'm having, but I spilled both coffee and Coke on this shirt, and it hasn't stained a bit! I did get a wet paper towel and wipe up the coffee, but I didn't have a chance to attack the Coke before dashing off to an hour-long meeting. Not a mark. How extraordinary.

It's a mix of cotton and spandex (and I just got a phenominal headrush and weird eye-floaty things from craning my neck around to look. wooo.). Viva technology!

It's funny what it takes, isn't it? Now, finally now, I'm getting excited about this wedding. Why now? I just made an appointment with a Justice of the Peace for Saturday, August 11, at 5pm.

We also picked up my back-ordered ring a few days ago. And a box full of blow-outs with sparkly fringe arrived yesterday (the rice/birdseed/bubbles/bells replacement). We've ordered the stickers with our names and the date for sticking onto the blow-outs; those will be in in another week or so. Dance lessons continue. Dress is coming together; bride's maids seem to have their dresses under control; boys are being flakey and are late getting me their measurements, which is why I made their deadline a few days earlier than mine.

Mostly, I'm exhausted.

Jon got his learner's permit, we got our marriage license, I got the car inspected (waaaay overdue), and I got all the fluids and such flushed (also waaaay overdue). That was Friday. Then on Saturday, we went to the Arthur Storer Toastmasters meeting, where they had a guest speaker playing host for "Who Wants to be a Toastmaster?" I actually won and was the only one that day to do so. I got the 100,000 Grand... candybar. It was much less dorky than I had expected; it was a good time, and I was rewarded in chocolate. What more could you want? After that, we went to Ben and Tosha's for Dungeons&Dragons and dress fitting. I'm gonna look so pretty! Finally, on Sunday, we attended another private dance lesson. It's coming together, but the figures we're learning are harder and take a stronger lead (and better following). Then, on the way home, rather than running our errand to Wal-Mart for oven cleaner and a tape measure, Jon suggested we just go see a movie. Any movie. Who cares? So we went up to our favorite corporate theatre, perused a selection that was not as dismal as I'd expected, and selected The Score, with Robert deNiro, Ed Norton, Angela Bassett, and, last but not least, Marlon Brando, directed by Frank Oz, of all people. Jon wasn't so impressed, but I thought it was pretty cool. It ended up not being all that violent, which was a relief, but it certainly had a lot of tension. I like those intricate plots where you can't figure out where it's going or who's on whose side. The after-thought romantic conflict was completely useless, but the rest of it was very cool. I'm starting to become a real Ed Norton fan; he's just nuts. Robert deNiro is always in charge up on that screen, and I love watching him work. Marlon Brando was reprising his role, and that was fun to watch, but he seemed to be included more for nostalgia than anything else. After the film, we did go run our Wal-Mart errand, but they were out of tape measures. Sheesh.

Meg writes about her granddad, which, as with many things, reminds me of Grandpa Joe. I wish I had gotten into astrophysics earlier; we could have had some great chats. I wrote a poem the morning I found out he died, and I might put it up in my poetry section, but it's about me, not him. I want to talk about him.

Yes, astrophysics. Like my other grandfather, Grandpa Cichelli, Grandpa Joe worked for Dupont. Grandma told me about a time he was listed in the town newsletter, under the prodigal son category, as studying Quantity Physics and Difficult Equations. (Maybe they knew more about it than they thought.) Of all the things he taught me, I wish he'd pointed me at the quantum physics, rather than letting me discover it, too late, during my junior year of college. But then, maybe he had; I haven't always been the best at listening to grownups.

If the pictures on the wall are to be believed, Grandpa Joe was an actor, back in the day. He taught me three things about acting:

  1. To walk like a lumbering monster (human or otherwise), move the arm that's on the same side as the foot you step with, instead of the opposite one.

  2. To act drunk, concentrate on acting very sober.

  3. And the most important thing in comedy. "What's the most impor--" Timing.

He also drove the four-hour round trip to attend most of my high school plays.

Grandpa Joe was a bit of a linguist and quite a character. He taught me to say "grandfather" in a bunch of languages. He thought it was terribly funny that "grandmother" in one of those languages sounded something like "haatsmama," finding it quite fitting that my grandma be called a hot mamma. I didn't get it at the time. I do now. He also rode his bicycle every morning into town to get the newspaper. Joe Downing on the Red Bike... I went with him one morning, on my pink Huffy. Those bikes are aptly named; I nearly died.

And the other thing I did with him, once, was the annual Walk Around the House. Well, yes, it is a big house, but that's not really what's salient here. On the first snowfall of the year, Grandpa Joe would walk all the way around the Big Gray House, once. Barefoot. And I joined him, once, barefoot. The last ten feet are over those coarse gray stones used for paving an area you don't want to pave, but by then, one's feet are far too numb to notice. I think the year I joined him was the last year he was up for making the Walk.

And, to make sure I was a lady of good breeding and grace, Grandpa Joe taught me to play pool. His primary guideline carries over well into many aspects of life:

Don't swear until all the balls stop moving.

Can you believe this: Another dance lesson tonight.

Gee, it's Tuesday already, isn't it. Hm. We had another private dance lesson on Sunday, and signed up for four more. It's really starting to come together. We also went to Warehouse Music to get one song and ended up buying six CDs. The kicker, though, is that the arrangement of Sing, Sing, Sing, the song we went there to get, is mad-fast. I couldn't imagine dancing that fast in formal wear, especially in that bustier. Sigh. I don't know what we'll do at the reception.

On Saturday, we went to a concert of music by P.D.Q. Bach, performed by the Austin Chamber Music C...oalition? whatever. It was quite a bit of fun, and we felt so refined. Afterwards, we went out for steak. Mmmmm, steak.

We skipped the group dance lesson last night. I felt like I had too much to do, and Jon felt under the weather, and the Monday group lesson is probably the least useful for us, since that has the highest attendance. I hope to go on Thursday, though.

Went to T'ai Chi class this morning, and my back feels much better than usual. I had been fighting the evening rush hour traffic and driving the half-hour+ up to the Dell Round Rock fitness center, but I skipped one class back during my furlough, and then I didn't feel up to it the next week, and then we started dancing on Thursdays, and... It wasn't the class that was the deterrent, but the traffic. Bumper-to-bumper on IH 35, that death trap. But now, thanks in part to my plantive pleas I think, the newly opened fitness center down here on my campus has started offering a T'ai Chi class from 7 to 8 on Tuesday mornings. Doug, the instructor, said they might add another on Thursday mornings. That would be great! I definitely feel better when I'm actively attending T'ai Chi classes.

One final note about interfaces and accessibility: When you visit my cube, don't comment on my keyboard.

Thank you.

I just had a user-interface epiphany. I'm using Mousetool, which clicks my mouse whenever I pause with the pointer, and that makes navigation that you have to hover over to know where it's going really annoying. This is an important consideration in the drive for accessibility. Then, on a technical point, a lot of the technologies that drive tool-tip-style popups are unavailable to various segments of the web viewing public. The "title" attribute on anchor tags (links) only works in IE. Javascript popups don't work on text-only and non-javascript-enabled browsers (and, again regarding accessibility, not on speech readers for the blind, either). And, I don't care what anyone says, the dynamic CSS positioning of elements on a page (like, the aforementioned tool-tip popup) does not work as advertised, in either of The Big Two.

A call to action for web designers: Remember that the best art is most beautiful when it fits its function perfectly.

Oh, yeah! Hey, happy Freaky Friday. ^_^

I have been informed that I should report on last night's dance lesson, for the benefit of those evaluating the prospects at Go Dance. I dunno. The practice is good, dancing with a variety of partners keeps you from cementing bad habits, and it's a fun way to spend an evening, but they could have their act together a little better. So far, we've had three classes and three different instructors who, apparently, don't talk to each other. We've gone over the basic step in baby steps too many times. The instructor last night was so cute he could have been made out of marzapan, but he could have done with a little focusing, and his explanations weren't entirely transparent. Not until I danced with Jon did I realize that I was learning a move I already knew; instructions were a little obtuse.

The most frustrating thing is that these instructors explain technical points in a way that completely contradicts what our instructor in last week's private lesson said.

That said, we certainly are learning this dance. We practice in our living room, and Jon really has it together. He still looks white and, at times, like he's trying to pass a cue ball, but he's connecting the figures into sequences, and I think we'll look great at the wedding. Provided my bustier allows me to move.

Clue #34 that You Are Lacking Focus at Work: You consider setting your pager to "silent" mode and paging yourself.

Clue #35: Instead, you post a blog entry about doing it.

Actually, I've gotten good things done today. It's just been eight-and-a-half hours, so I'm starting to watch the clock. Also, in the past, I have made project timeline estimates without sufficient data, neither about the project nor about my own abilities. So, when writing a detailed project plan this time, I was determined to give conservative estimates on the amount of time needed for each task, to make sure I made my deadline without turning myself into a hollow-eyed nerve ending. The offshoot is that there is not enough pressure on me to get my brain into that caffiene-hum, supergeek, laser-focused, productivity burn. I know, with absolute certainty, that somewhere down the line, a major snafu will pull me off this project onto support, or that I'm completely wrong about how complex one of the tasks on this project actually is, or that my business partner will have a Change of Vision, provided he deigns to look at my prototype before the coding is completely done, and this unforseen (though I'm seeing it here, aren't I?) calamity will eat up all the extra time I built in. But this still doesn't get me sharpened and on task.

I need to set myself some tighter deadlines. Sigh.

It didn't last nearly long enough.

I reinstalled Mousetool, which sends a mouse-click event to your computer every time you move and then hover your pointer. It's a "donationware" (if you like it, give money to a charity of your choosing) repetitive-stress-injury preventer, saving you the strain of the constant clicking (and the gripping that accompanies the clicking (and, if you're me, the griping that accompanies the clicking. Somewhat. Mice are a stupid user-interface tool)). I had been using it for a while last year but, until now, hadn't reinstalled it after my machine got migrated to Windows2000. It's a friendly little tool, and it reminds me every hour to take a stretch break. How neighborly.

Another dance lesson tonight. This is another group lesson, and I expect it to build on last week's classes, giving them the benefit of the doubt on Monday just being a repeat of the previous Thursday.

Apropos of nothing, my friend Dave is trying his hand at ASP and hosting his own site and running his own server and all that, so here's a plug: Dave's photography portfolio and resources at

And I'm sucking on a Hershey bar. Because it needed to happen.

Holy cow. Hoe. Lee. Cow. Shpedoinkal, even.

I've seen this musical, and here it is, getting performed in New York. If I weren't half a country away, I'd get tickets. Go on my behalf, and then tell me about it, so I can relive it, vicariously.

What's weirder yet is how I found that. I was reading, and Meg informed us that my cat hates you, whose letters page directs us to a story about the angriest cat in Chinatown, the author of which was considering attending this theatrical gem back in June. Reading a bit more of the blog, I have to assume he didn't go. Having seen it, one just couldn't fail to comment.

Dance, dance, dance, and boy, did we. Last night's class was a review of Thursday's, and because it started at 7 instead of 9, there were quite a few more people there. Jon and I were feeling like old pros (and I was wishing the classes would actually build on each other, as advertised). I expect next Thursday will teach new moves. We did learn the hammerlock turn last night, and I finally, by the end of the evening, got to a point where I looked sassy, rather than worried about my shoulders popping out of their sockets. Jon is looking just plain spiffy. He's really getting the hang of it. After the class, we pushed the furniture out of our living room, vacuumed, and then cut a rug to Glenn Miller. What a hoot!

So, to find your dream man, do not waste energy trying to get a dancer to be a reasonable human being. Instead, find an awesome guy, and teach him to dance.

I am being manipulated.

I was craving chocolate, so I trotted over to the vending machine. I selected a Snickers. Why? Because I love caramel? Because that creamy nougat (whatever that is) satisfies me? No. Because enough commercials have planted a seed in my head that Snickers bars are a little more nutritious, a little more like a meal than other candy bars. Phooey.

But I ate the Snickers bar. I am so ashamed.

Weekend of Accomplishments.

I read more than half of Robert's Rules in Plain English, prepping for my role as President of the Dell Toastmasters club. Jon and I had our private dance lesson and signed up for two more. And I made the cake topper for my wedding cake.

Our Toastmasters club hasn't been adhering to Parliamentary Procedure since I joined, ten months ago. One of the goals for this term is to get back into the habit, educating the officers and the club members in Robert's Rules of Order along the way. If everybody knows the rules perfectly, I can see how it would make meetings run smoothly. There will be bumps, however, the first time I have to tell people that they have to vote to amend the amendment, then vote to accept that amended amendment to the motion, and then vote on the motion. On the upside, it's like playing a game.

So far, Jon and I have attended one group lesson in swing dance and one private lesson, which mostly focused on swing, too. The private lesson was pretty cool, but 50 minutes is over in nuthin'. We had hoped to have our first dance at the wedding be a waltz to Sarah McLaughlin's "Ice Cream," but it's way too fast, and the waltz is way too hard. At least, the instructor was working on what I think is the Viennese waltz; I get the feeling there is a less formal, far easier version. But it looks like our first dance will be "Sing, Sing, Sing." I can live with that. Maybe we'll play Sarah as the recessional.

Ooooooh, the cake topper. Okay, so I had this vision, right? Sweet, accommodating boy; blustery, high intensity girl... Kermit and Miss Piggy. Right. Do you know how hard it is to find figurines of Kermit and Piggy? I wrote to, who wrote back to say that maybe some of their stores would sell such a thing. Well, the girl at the Disney store in our mall didn't even know that the Evil Empire had bought Henson Studios. Flake. It became increasingly apparent that I was going to have to sculpt this myself. I went to Hobby Lobby on Tuesday and bought a mess of bakeable Sculpey clay, some seed beads, and eight cents' worth of lace. Last night, I built the darn things. I have to admit, I'm incredibly pleased. Unfortunately, during baking, Kermit fell over and then hardened up too much to straighten up properly, but I built up big shoes on him (spats, even) so now he stands on his own, though he looks like he's already dancing, with those bent knees. I dressed Piggy in a dress like mine and put Kermit in a tuxedo with tails. They're too much. My concerns now are transporting them safely and whether or not they are too tall and too heavy for the cake. If so, we'll stand them nearby. They're just freakin' awesome.

We did try to go to the "dive-in" movie at Deep Eddy Pool. The pool is spring fed and, I believe, not chlorinated. There was a lot of debris. But it's tucked away in the trees, just off of Lake Austin. We were confused, though, as more people seemed to be leaving at 8 than arriving. I finally asked a life guard. The movies are, um, on Saturday, not Friday. We enjoyed our splash in the pool, though. We also did not get to the midnight showing of the Muppet Movie; just too tired to go out. Instead, we ventured to I Love Video, which is one of those distinctly Austin establishments. At first, I didn't think there was any organization to the tapes. After some wandering, I began to see the patterns, some by category, some by decade (notably, the 80s), some by actor, some by director. We rented Head, by the Monkees, which Jon has been wanting to show me for a while, and Funny Face, with Audrey Hepburn (yay!) and Fred Astaire, who didn't dance nearly enough. Head was less coherent than a typical Monkees episode, but it was very Monkees. I haven't seen their show since high school, so that was some fun nostalgia. I did go to one of their concerts around that time (sans Mike Nesmith, since he was off being a Serious Musician, I think). They were, um, older, but at least they had the good sense, unlike Flock of Seagulls at the Retrofest last summer, to play the stuff people know them and love them for. Funny Face, complete with Gershwin tunes, comes from that comforting era of movies. I want more films like that, where the most distressing thing that happens warrants a pouty, "Oh, pooh!" But Fred definitely did not dance enough. What was up with that?

It was a good weekend. More dancing tonight...

Bend over, lemme see you shake your tailfeather.

We went swing dancing last night! (And I'm currently listening to Ray Charles from the Blues Brothers album.) We signed up for a month of classes at Go Dance. We can attend as many group classes as we can stand; there are four hour-long classes each day, all week, in varying styles and skill levels. Level 1 Swing meets twice a week. We had a terrific time, and Jon is already showing improvement. The thing I liked best is that the instructor spent time teaching how to lead.

Then, as new members, we get one free private lesson, which we'll have this Sunday. They're also having a special deal during July, where we can get two more private lessons for $50 total. We met our instructor last night and talked about the wedding and such. He said, if we wanted, he could choreograph a wedding dance. Could you imagine?! Ah, I'm so excited. (And, he is proficient in Italian, German, and Russian, having lived a few years in each. Not that world-travelled, suave, chiseled dance instructors would catch my eye, or anything. I'm just saying, is all.)

It was a fun date. And speaking of fun dates, we might go to a "dive in movie" tonight. One of the local swimming pools shows movies for $2 on a big screen, so you can float and watch the film. This evening, it's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Tomorrow night, the Alamo Drafthouse is showing The Muppet Movie at midnight; we're not sure we're really midnight-movie goers, anymore, but it sounds like fun. Then Sunday is our dance lesson! ^_^

Note to self: If you have magpie tendencies, do not paint your fingernails with chrome-colored, shiny... sparkly... Oooooohhhh

Sitting in a restaurant eating food I never would have touched two years ago, I am struck by how much I have adapted. Watching friends shoot off fireworks from a mortar in front of the house, next to my car, I am struck by how much I have not.

For me, fireworks displays mean sitting on a blanket in J. Birney Crumb stadium, listening to the Allentown Band play the 1812 Overture while the fire department provides the cannon. I was completely ill at ease last night, surrounded by neighbors with bottle rockets, watching my sometimes common-sense-free boyfriend hold a Roman candle. The afternoon started pleasantly enough, with ten of us gathered for a little cookout, but by 9pm, we were in the driveway with fireworks littered all over the bed of a pickup truck. (One spinner lept up into the air, flew over our heads, and bounced off the end of that pickup truck.) See, in Allentown, they outlawed sparklers. In Texas, outside of city limits, anything's game, and my friends live in a little chunk of No Man's Land between Austin and Cedar Park.

We escaped at quarter to 10. I suppose the evening ended without incident, but I had a vivid vision of Jon running to me with third-degree burns on his face and three fingers gone from his hand. This holiday makes me home sick.

Butterscotch lollipops can do a lot for one's mood.

I feel better today. All the invitations are out, except for five, for the people who have not answered me about their addresses. And the bridal registry is complete and up at I feel so sexy for programming it. We bought rings on Sunday; they're very pretty, and we can't wait to wear them. We signed up for dance lessons, group ones starting this week for the month and a private one on this coming Saturday. We bought Jon some proper dance shoes and ordered a pair of character shoes for me.

We also saw Moulin Rouge on Saturday, and it was impressively cool. Kind of La Boheme/Rent-ish, very rich in color and sound. Well-suited for the MTV Generation, raised on a density of input. I think it would overwhelm my grandparents and bore my parents. But we liked it a lot. It made me cry.

We found a new TexMex restaurant, across the street from the dance shoe store, tucked back in the trees. We had the funniest waiter, and the food was good. We both got fruit smoothies, too, which was just the thing in that afternoon heat.

Did I mention that the bridal registry is done? Whew!

I was looking through some old papers and found our initial Austin apartment search. There's a complex just a few miles from our current one (bikable distance) where we could get a lot more space for less money. They've got a 1200-square-foot three-bedroom/two-bath for $795/month. We're paying $839 (about to be $859, when we renew) for a 972-square-foot two-bedroom/two-bath. And three bedrooms means three closets! But it is in a scarier part of town, so the apartments might not be--as hard as this is to fathom--as nice. We are at the bottom of my tolerance for crappy service and rotten buildings. I hope this year has made me shrewder, so that I'll be able to accurately assess what this new place would be like. It's exciting to think of three bedrooms for less money. It's daunting to think of moving in the next four weeks. Maybe next year.

On the upside, I'm feeling pretty good about work. I've been given the perfect stepping-stone project, the stretch-your-wings and see-if-you're-ready-for-the-next-thing project. There's an existing application that tracks things, and I'm building an interface for maintaining the ways in which some of those things are tracked, so that users can make changes, rather than having to ask developers to do it. So, the app and its business logic are already built, as are the styles and images, but this interface doesn't really interact with the rest of the app and is more of a self-contained module. It's the step between making an enhancement and starting from scratch. So far, I'm doing pretty well with it. This is a growth opportunity.

Yee haw.

I feel like I must be crazy, that I must have some wrong schema. Planning this wedding is making me tense and unhappy. I was crying in rush hour traffic last night, just distressed about spending so much money and so much of my parents' money on something that isn't coming together to be what I want. And even if it were easy, it's still a stupid amount of money to spend on a party, when it could make an excellent down payment on a house in a softening housing market. And that feeling is exacerbated by the feeling that it is all for other people's benefit.

This won't change me and Jon. It will enable other people to see us as married, to accept our moral choices without feeling affronted, to tax us more, to feel we're entitled to health and life insurance benefits.

And I don't know if people are making small talk, or if they think they're being helpful, or if they're just trying to feel superior when they ask, "Do you have such-and-such task done? Oooh, isn't it a little late?"

The bridal magazines would have me believe I'm a freak. But I've learned not to believe what the advertisers are trying to tell me. So, is it possible that I'm not the only girl who hates this wedding planning?

I would get out of it if I thought there were any way I could.

48 invitations mailed last night. About 35 more to go. I don't want to lick anything anymore. Bleah.

Well, with a few notable exceptions, I suppose.

Omigoshomigoshomigosh. Neil Gaiman Has. A. Blog!

I am in the same community as Neil Gaiman. No, I am not a fan girl. What are you referring to?

I'm about eight chapters into American Gods, my signed copy that was a gift from Ben and Natosha, and I am quite enthralled. Too much Life is getting in the way of Reading.

Happiness is a warm tortilla. Mmm...


I watched Yellow Submarine for the first time, yesterday. I feel properly part of this culture now. I've been humming Beatles songs since 6:00 this morning.

Also yesterday, as part of our well earned Slug Day, we watched Watership Down, a faithful adaptation of the book, and The Emperor's New Groove, which we enjoyed quite a bit, in spite of ourselves. It really is cute, believe it or not. And we all know how I feel about the Disney corporation.

My mother completely disregarded my advice this weekend and once again failed to see Shrek and instead went to...Can you believe this? Tomb Raider. She claims it was my father's choice, which, knowing how he feels about the bold and the bountiful, is entirely plausible, but I still feel betrayed.

Wedding Update: For those who are haranguing me, go organize your own damn wedding. But anyway, invitations are nearly compiled. All that is left is addressing (twice, since you have to do the stupid dual-envelope thing), stuffing, and stamping. The gift registry is at Cichelli.Net, but the only deployed piece is the login screen. Processing of gifts still needs to be developed; I just have to find a bit more time.

Man, I tell you whut. I am so worked up, stressed out, and pissed off about this whole thing that I can't even think about it without swearing. I just want to have a party. Just a party, dammit. It will be fine, fine, fine. Whatever you're wearing, whatever you're bringing, whatever color lampshade you will put on your head at the reception will be JUST FINE. Quit asking me.

Why have we allowed our culture to turn a celebration of love into a huge, irritating hassle?

I made up a game last night.

I made up a game last night! I'm becoming One Of Them. tee hee. I'll write it up soon, and then maybe it will be one of the Games of the Month on Invisible City.

I feel all creative and junk.

I suppose it was inevitable: At least there's quiddich training.

brush with death

Or, rather, brush with alarming insurance claim. We spent the weekend with our friends Ben and Natosha and Ben's brother Seth. 4am, we're playing Call of Cthulhu, horror role-playing, when there's a loud bang, like a hammer dropped inside a moving truck. We pause, shrug, and then I say, "Y'know, my car's out there." And then we're moving. We dash out to the street, and there's some activity around a pickup truck across the street, so I figure someone, well, dropped a hammer onto his truck bed.

Then Ben notices another pickup, two houses down, sticking its bumper through their wooden fence. And there's no activity there, which makes me think the driver is unconscious. Ben takes a Maglight down to investigate, and Tosha calls 911. Neighbors start to appear. Then we realize that the first truck, across from where we're standing, is mangled all to heck, with lots of important-looking bits scattered beneath it. Its windshield is shattered. It is empty. The other truck, across the street and two houses away, is also empty.

A car accident with no drivers? An ambulance, a fire truck, and a police car arrive in response to Tosha's call. The owner of the thrown truck speaks up, from the crowd of groggy neighbors. It had been parked when it was hit and thrown down the block. The driver of the throwing truck finally shows up, apparently after retrieving his girlfriend on foot (she is in slippers and looking none too pleased). There are no skid marks.

EMS, having no one to treat, goes off to rescue other people. Firemen sweep up glass and scatter sand under the engines of the trucks. Police officers question a sheepish looking guy in his early twenties. Ben meets his neighbors. We finally piece together the scenario:

A white pickup, in a block and a half, gathers enough speed to hit a red pickup on the wrong side of the road (parked across the street from my innocent little Honda) and throw that pickup diagonally across and down the street, covering about four house-lengths and jumping the curb, and then continue for two house-lengths itself.

The last time Jon ran a Cthulhu game, there was a tornado just north of us, complete with golf-ball-sized hail. Jon is not allowed to GM anymore.

I haven't forgotten about you, gentle readers.

Last week (not the one just past, but the one before it. Yeesh.), I had a week off. I worked on Cichelli.Net and made some progress on my wedding registry application. I need to do some more data entry and program the piece that actually lets you cross an item off the list. I also got stationery and address labels for wedding invitations. ...I ordered labels that said "Sharon and Jonathan Leistiko." *gulp*

I also went to see the Vagina Monologues, which was an adventure just for going to the theatre by myself. There were men there, but not many. Funky, femme vibe. I liked it. And the show was funny and racy and empowering.

This week has been consumed by getting some planning and design documents done for a new project at work. However, this evening, I'm attending a Toastmasters picnic and delivering my tenth speech from the Competent Toastmaster (CTM) manual, which means I'll be completing my CTM certification! I'm so jazzed. (And that's what my speech is on: being jazzed about Toastmasters. It's supposed to be inspirational. I'm bringing a toaster as a prop. *smirk*)

Oh, And! Tuesday, June 12, marked my one-year anniversary at Dell. I reel when I think of how much I've learned in that year. I hear myself at these project planning meetings with my business partner (the customer, the user representative) and the program manager (the interface between the business and the I/T departments), and I think, holy cow, I sound like I know what I'm doing! And I sound smart. How sexy. (My vagina is a programmer.)

And finally, I got a cute card from my friend Fred. It folds out and has a spider with wiggly bits. The ceiling fan in the den makes it dance. What a happy thing.

Did I mention I got elected President of my Toastmasters club? Nifty.

Man, am I pooped!

The team builder on Friday turned out to be quite pleasant. Much lower key than initially implied. And one of my co-workers is dating a professional cake maker, so we had home-made cheesecake. Oooohh.

Girls, girls, and more girls! Tameka, Faith, and Jen came in from their various locations and spent the weekend in my itty-bitty apartment. (Two bathrooms, thankfully.) After a steak dinner, we went dancing at Polly Esther's on Friday—they've got a light-up floor a la Saturday Night Fever. Tee hee. We sat out back and listened to the karaoke for a while, too. There is some real talent in Austin; I think those folks are looking more to get discovered than anything else. We didn't sing, but we really enjoyed a dynamic trio of girls singing "Baby Got Back." Plastic parts are made for toys, indeed.

Then on Saturday, we went to Petticoat Fair and got my girls a bunch of well fitting bras. They were suprised to find out what sizes they properly are, but boy, did they look hot afterwards. We also bought shoes and spa supplies. Then we went to my chef friend Dave's house for fresh, home-made margaritas, guacamole, fajitas, spanish rice, queso, and tres leches cake. Yow. Rolled home around 4 am.

On Sunday we ate through one green leaf-- er, wrong story. Instead, we continued the over indulgence with a barbecue picnic under the bat bridge. Beloved Jonathan also baked us fresh bread, and we went to Central Market for fresh fruits, cheese, and chocolate.

Then on Monday, I made a few treks to the airport, and we spent some enjoyable time in between them by visiting a nature and science center over at Zilker Park. We also stood on a pedestrian bridge over the Town Lake part of the Colorado and watched the canoers go by.

Then I fell fast asleep.

Verdict: Neither imperative nor objectionable.

On Friday, we're having a "team builder" at work. Usually, these are an excuse to have a party. But this one, under my new director, is serious. We are nearly required to participate, and we're being assigned to teams with people we don't work with on a regular basis. So I'm looking over the roster for the three-legged race, and I find myself wondering, "Now who is Kirk W., and is he someone I want to be tied to?"

I'm sucking on a piece of coconut candy from Malaysia. It's sweet, hard, and, um, coconutty. I feel so cosmopolitan.

Sorry about all the JavaScript errors. Blogvoices seems to be off-line. There's no ETA, since the whole site is off-line. If this is still broken tomorrow, I'll comment it out of my template.

Oh, and the girls are arriving in two days! My three best friends are coming down for the weekend for a wild bachelorette party. Eat your heart out, boys. Woo hoo.

Some wit decided to post on my poll comments section that this site has "NOTHING" to do with phlebotomy. I would like to offer the following reply:

Read the definition in the top left. My online persona is arachnoid, I'm sharing my thoughts and insights here, phlebotomy is the drawing of blood. It's a pun. You're stoopid.

Thank you.

I find this week's Bob The Angry Flower intensely satisfying.

Can we call you Dadoo?

o/~ I'm in a Friday state of mind, I tell you whut. I'm not bored so much as distracted. I bought a pair of sunglasses last night ($5, Wal-Mart), and I'm just itching to go out and use them. Well, lookee that, it's lunch time. B-)

Bananas are fickle. They go from crunchy green to mushy brown in a minute and a half.

Anyway, this is cool: I got a crack in my windshield (no, that's not cool), and my insurance company contacted a glass repair place that will come fix or replace your windshield on site! They gave me a four hour time span for the day after I called, and then came out here in a van and replaced the glass. How cool.

Also, if the damage had been repairable instead of needing a replacement, my insurance company (Progressive) would have covered all expenses.

Insurance rep: Can the damage be covered up by a dollar bill?

Me: No.

Insurance rep: Would you like blue or green tint?

So I was responsible for a $500 deductible, but it even ended up costing less than half that. ^_^

Note to self: Customer satisfaction is all about managing expectations, especially when it comes to money.

From early on, I've been told I have poor aural retention—I don't remember what I hear—so of course I believe it. (Why can I retain that?) Never mind that I can recite movies and even conversations, that people constantly get the Princess Bride wrong; I obviously don't pay attention because the teacher would definitely have told me that detail.

So I take notes. Careful notes. Copious notes. I'm the only one in staff meetings taking notes. In college, I was a professional note taker.

But here I am, seven years old again, with proof in my notes that a vital piece of information most certainly was not conveyed, but I obviously didn't pay attention because the manager would definitely have told us that detail.

Absense of evidence is not evidence of absense. And nobody will listen to you when you say, "Here. See? It isn't in my notes. I didn't know. I had no way of knowing. And I'm sorry that you looked bad in front of your manager when I got tripped up by not knowing, but IT ISN'T IN MY NOTES." Not in third grade; not now.

And I got a crack in my windshield that I'm sure wasn't there when I left the car this morning. Fucking Texas.

I seem to be on a pendulum. I work towards overcoming shyness, and then try to reign it in and learn to keep my mouth shut. There is no reward for speaking your ideas, especially not in meetings, at least not the way I manage to present them. Anxiety causes me to over-emote. I really should just be quiet.

I hate not having an office door to close.

Bullet dodged. Threat is past. I still have my job.

This made me realize the flexibility I have, though. I don't need to fret about losing my job; I'm highly employable, and we have a good reserve in the bank. I've never lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and I still don't. It's a mode of operation that is both attainable and quite reassuring.

Thinking further about hypertext stories, I am reminded of Choose Your Own Adventure books and Adventure/Zork games. There is a rich community of active creators of text-based adventure games.

Somehow, that wasn't what I'd had in mind. I still feel like I want to do story-telling rather than story-gaming. While I want to be intimate with my reader, I am not yet ready to surrender control of my story to him. And to do so half-assed, holding back and being insincere, would be as unfulfilling as saying "I love you" just to get the sex.

For nostalgia's sake, I recently picked up a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in which you rescue some enslaved troll-creatures. At one point, you have the option of going back to rescue them, or forsaking them and grabbing the gold. I was surprised that I'd actually be granted that choice, so I took the second path. ...Which tells me I make a grab for the gold and am then overwhelmed with guilt and turn back to help the little creatures, now go turn to the page you were supposed to have picked in the first place. Reminded me of my first boyfriend.

So what have I realized about myself?

  1. I want to tell a story.

  2. I don't want to give a false sense of collaboration or interactivity.

  3. It shouldn't be sequential, where the links are nothing more than "Click here to go to page 2."

  4. Nor should the links be simply expository short-cuts, at least for real-world items. Ah! Here's an epiphane (had right here, on the fly): When we talk, and especially when we talk with ourselves in our own heads, we multi-task. One concept has a whole collection of emotions and memories contained within it. The very way we speak is an emotional shorthand, done mostly out of necessity. When I'm talking with my best friend, I don't have to enumerate all the roiling emotions a person creates within me; I can simply say, "He reminds me of Doug." The reader hasn't been my best friend for ...yeegads, 11 years? Anyway, the reader doesn't have my emotional backstory, nor does he have the background of my characters. If I'm not careful, neither do I. But with a link and a frame! Ah, magnificent. I can provide the mood that floods through my character when she talks about her childhood sweetheart, without interrupting the reader's present for a whole lot of flashback. Less confusion, and conversations in the story become more real-time. And, with the understanding that that frame over there is the Flashback Frame, the words, colors, and images(!!) there can be much more like thought, and much less like exposition.



Well, that was productive. Thank you for your time. I've got work to do...

It does help that I've got a fantastic French manicure. I used Sally Hansen's Blushing Bride (just the yummiest opaque, matte pink) and Old Navy's White Out, which can make fine lines with a pen tip and also has a brush inside. Did my toes last night, too.

Maybe the chamomile's kicking in.

I've also got that undirected creative urge I sometimes get, where I've just gotta make something (but if you suggest a project, you will kill it). I've got the whole Adobe suite here, so images and site redesigns are dancing in my head. I also feel that there has to be a story to tell using hypertext—truly using the interconnectedness, rather than thwarting it. Currently, I've gotten to the point of using it as an expository shorthand—I don't have to interrupt my prose to give you the back story on something; I can just link to it, and you'll explore it if you need the explanation. There's another level to aspire to, though, something that goes beyond typing books into the computer, something that tells a story in a way that couldn't be told on paper and is richer for it. And I'm aspiring, baby. I'm aspiring.

I'm so nervous, I'm vibrating, and I'm about to fly apart like a 1982 Yugo doing 75 on the interstate. At the Starbucks downstairs, I bought a "Calm" tea bag, succumbing to marketing. Crystal the Barrista said she's sold a lot of those today.

A guy from the Facilities department, while freeing a locked laptop that had been left in my cube without keys, mentioned that today there would be layoffs announced. But nobody else seems to be on pins and needles the way I am, so I'm left to wonder why I would assume this guy had access to special information.

I find the prospect of renewing my recruiter contacts tiring. I don't want to go back to contracting (read: temping), I don't want to be the new girl again, I don't want my manager to get laid off either. I just want this all to go away. I want Dell to realize that there's no shame in being number one, there's no need to be the only one.

It's daunting to job hunt in a new paradigm. I've never been a programmer before. But going back to writing now would feel like a cop out (and a pay cut). I like being a programmer. But selling myself as such feels like even more of a scam than selling myself as a technical writer. I'm still waiting for someone to say, "Wait a minute. You're just a kid. You don't have a degree in this. You've been figuring it out as you go along!" Which would be my greatest skill, but that's hard to fit into a résumé.

Glowering Interviewer: Do you know XML?

Me: No, but if you hum a few bars, I can fake it.

I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready to redefine myself. Again.

Well it's time to freakin' get ready.

I never told you all about my trip to Vegas! The boys of Invisible City and I attended the GAMA Trade Show, for manufacturers (us), retailers, and distributors of board games and card games. The trade show was in the Orleans hotel, which had a lot of smokers.

We had a fantastic time, soaking up information in the panel discussions like mad and meeting all the cool people in the industry. I chatted with Steve Jackson, who has since invited me to game night with his gang, but I keep missing the invitations. We also got taken under the wing of Marcelo of AEG, who hosts the Gamer High listserv (an unreal amount of piffle, but it's cute piffle, and it makes us part of the In crowd, so I'll take it), which posits that the industry is like a high school. Hadn't thought I'd be a frosh again any time soon.

But meeting Marcelo had a really spiffy side effect. See, he mentioned that he and some friends were "going dancing." I said I'd like to go, and Jon would come, too. We agreed to meet at 10:00 at the Alligator bar in the hotel, to then go over to the Ra at the Luxor (the big pyramid one on the Strip).

They weren't there at 10. I knew I'd been stood up. We watched a little roulette and then swung by the bar again, and there they were! And they sent me upstairs to change into something more clubby. Sigh. But they waited for me, and then Marcelo's gang went in someone's car, and Jon and I caught a cab, with the instructions to wait in front of the Ra.

Nobody's at the Ra. Well, there's a line of people waiting to be let in by the bouncer, but none of the gang we were going to meet. Taking the cab certainly took longer. Sigh... But while Jon and I stood in indecision, wondering if we should just get into line or not, Marcelo came out of the club, mentioned to the bouncer that we were with his group, and the bouncer lifted the rope and let us in. Yow! All these Beautiful People in line, and we get let in specially. The night was looking up.

Then Marcelo says, "Let me introduce you to your host." He leads us through the club and then into one of the VIP rooms, where there's a private party. We meet the bouncer at the door so that we'll be able to come and go with no problem, and then we're introduced to Peter Atkinson, former owner and CEO of Wizards of the Coast. [jaw drops]

We had so made it. There were folks there who take care of event registration for GenCon and significant contributors to Dungeons&Dragons Third Edition and just... People! We were in a swanky club, in Vegas, at a private party, attended by the movers and shakers in the gaming industry. Hot damn!

Of course you all know that my driving motivator is to meet celebrities and then become one. This was right up there on my list of Really Cool Stuff. What a night.

So I was called for jury duty. A few weeks ago, I attended the empaneling session, which seems to be a rare thing. They assign you to a jury while taking your schedule into account. It made the whole thing rather painless. I was scheduled to report this morning at 10:00. In the jury duty documents, they make a big point about how there's no parking at the courthouse, so I rode the 'Dillo for the first time. It's free, and mostly serves downtown, with a few stops off at park-and-ride lots (all in south Austin). Some of the 'Dillos are regular buses, but one I rode today looks like a trolley, complete with wooden seats. It was very cute.

I left the house at 8, returned at 8:15 because I thought I had forgotten some necessary paperwork (but there was none to forget), and then drove south on IH-35 for 45 minutes (bleah). The 'Dillo arrived shortly after I did, I chatted with a fellow juror and helped her find the courthouse, and then arrived about ten 'til ten, right on time. I read my copy of Six Easy Pieces, physics lectures by Richard Feynman, so that I could answer honestly that that was the last book I'd read, in case the lawyers asked. Partly, I thought it would be likely to get me dismissed, but mostly, I couldn't admit that what I've been reading these days is a John Saul novel entitled The Right Hand of Evil. It's a dumb title; the book is okay.

By 10:20, we had been dismissed. Oftentimes, when faced with the reality of an actual jury, people will settle their cases. But that satisfies my obligation, so I've done my bit, and I'm off the hook.

But it was too nice a day to dash right back to work. I mean, really. I'd blocked out the whole day, and I was only two blocks from the library. What's a girl to do? Nosing around for something either on spirituality or feminism, I found The Tao of Womanhood, which seems a good compromise. I looked for a book that Tameka had recommended, but I wasn't entirely sure of the title, and I couldn't find it. I think it was Reinventing Ophelia...or Redefining. Meeker, you can leave me a note by clicking on those little spiders right there.

I was back to work by noon and had lunch outside with a friend. Nice morning. Wish every day could start with a jaunt to the library. That would be heaven.

On a more upbeat note, this past weekend was the District 55 Toastmasters conference, in San Antonio. My friend Shafali, who had already won at the Club, Area, and Division levels, took second place in the International Speech contest at the District level. I'm so proud of her. I heard some good talks on leadership, and I got re-fired up about Toastmasters, deciding that perhaps I really could be club president in the coming term. Jon came along, and he's bound to join soon, too. There's a local club that meets on Saturday mornings, so we might attend that one.

Then on Sunday, Ben joined us for The Mummy Returns. It was pretty cool. There were some plot decisions that I didn't find satisfying, but it looked really cool. And there was no more blood than a scratch on the face, which was rather weird, considering somebody got ripped into four pieces. Very cartoony. Also, we were treated to some movie trailers that look promising: Tomb Raider (yay, Laura!), in live action with lots of computer effects, and Final Fantasy, in really spiffy computer animation of the quality seen in the Starship Troopers: Roughnecks series. Jurassic Park 3 looked skipable, though Sam Neill is so lovely, I might suffer through it just for him--as a rental.

And speaking of hotties in movies, Hugh Jackman is doing another film, due out June 8. It's called Swordfish, and it's about hackers (ho-hum). I received an email about it because there is some serious Dell product placement in it. Interestingly enough, Dell doesn't have to pay for the placement, just provide the servers and racks temporarily. How wild. Maybe in Rocky XII you'll see people playing Inevitable.

A press release has gone out. 3,000 to 4,000 shall fall. Résumé tonight.

Oh, I should have mentioned the other day: I've also got some experience in relational database design.

Faithful reader Derf asks just what it is I do, in response to my lamentations about layoff threats. Well, silly, I'm a programmer. I work for Dell's I/T (Information Technology -- and, no, I don't know why there's a slash there. Drives me bananas.) department, developing web-based applications for the procurement (negotiate for the parts that go into Dells) department, using ASP, SQL, DHTML (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), and VBScript.

Basically, I have fulfilled my destiny: I am a Web Diva.

And I might be job hunting in the next few weeks. *winning smile*

Little known fact: Okay, maybe it's better titled a "hardly known fact," since most of you will probably say, "Duh, Sharon, even I knew that." So, my hardly known fact: Six hours in a car on an early May afternoon in Texas is hot enough to cause a bottle of nail polish to explode. Wheee.

I've got an idea for a new reality-tv program: Layoff! Each week, another dedicated, hard-working employee will be voted off the island.

It's the secrecy I can't stand. Rumors are rampant throughout Dell, and they're even getting published in the paper, but the silence from above is deafening. I'm trying to stay loose, to roll with it. I figure, this very job came up out of the blue, and I was just flexible enough and adventurous enough to grab it as it ran past; so if it's time for it to go away, then that must mean there's another longhorn running by. I've got my hand out.

Note to self: Tech writer? No, it's time to spiff up that résumé...

I'm more of an art officianado than I'd thought.

I was explaining to a friend why my pal Jesse's costume is funny. To summarize, there is this huge metal sculpture on Penn State's campus that we have affectionately dubbed "FROH," for "Fighting Red Onion Head." (Look at it; it'll make sense. No, the name, not the sculpture.) Now, FROH had always reminded me of another huge metal monstrosity in Allentown, home of my youth. And here, today, in that Collegian article linked to above, I find that the same artist and the same donators are responsible for both sculptures.

I recognized somebody's style!

And they're following me. If I see one in Austin, I'll let you know.

What the heck kind of a word is "tater tot" anyway? I mean, "tot"? Ew.

Don't you just hate it when people don't update their blogs in forever?

Yeah, me, too.

I'm back from Vegas. There is, of course, much to report, but you'll just have to wait. No, we didn't get married. Oh, but that's an important point: The Pennsylvania wedding will be August 18, not 25.

Fred, it occurs to me that I probably haven't informally invited you yet. That's not deliberate; I'm just flakey. No official invites have been sent yet (which is good, since we just changed the date yesterday). So, August 18, 2pm, in Nazareth, PA, which is near Allentown. Anyone who's flying should attempt to arrive at ABE (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton), which changed its name to LVI (Lehigh Valley International) but can't get the travel agents and the airlines to acknowledge the change. Is there anyone else I haven't mentioned this to? Let me know, so I can get an accurate head-count. (This list has the potential to expand exponentially. Gad, weddings are tough. I'm only doing this once., well, okay, twice: once in PA and once in TX. But then, that's it.)

I am so there already. I can't wait to leave for Vegas. I've just got a few keep-the-lights-on-while-I'm-gone items at work, and it's rather hard to focus on them. I'm ready to be on a plane (except for having all our ICP stuff and website ready and packing).

Giddy with my own power

Holy cow. Okay, so I'm trying to develop an enhancement to an application that needs too many bug fixes to allow me to develop on it. I finally wrote an email to my business partner (the customer, representing the users), the program manager (tracker of projects and resources (like, me)), and my manager, laying out the state of the app when I came on the scene (CYA, since it was broken when I got here) and asking for a prioritization decision: Build the enhancement or fix the bugs; pick one.

Then I hid under my desk.

But my business partner, who is clearly the most reasonable person on the planet, decided to go with my third proposal: Stop this nonsense and build the thing right in the first place.

Let me just state that again for clarity: Take the time to do it right.

I did a Snoopy-dance and then sat down to sass out how long that would take. I get to first define all the steps, and then, then, decide how long those steps should take. I'm in programmer heaven.