Click… Click… Click…

…That’s the sound of My Life.

Seriously. That’s the sound of the Zip disk labeled "My Life," from way back in 1997 or so, clicking in my built-in Zip drive.

Luckily enough, the Zip disk parallelled my actual life in that very little of what was really, reeeeeally important to me then remains important to me now. I managed to use my old-school RCC skillz to Norton UnErase a couple important things, like "Sheryl Is Our ‘Puter Bitch" (sung to the tune of the Hall of the Mountain King), and my genealogy files (actually, I transferred those just a few days before it clicked). Unfortunately, the Saginaires and Northern Aurora alumni database just went poof. Thankfully, I had pdfs and HTML output of the last known version, so the transition to ASP should be a little less cumbersome than manually entering in all the info again. Go Dan. w00t.

Today’s major gripe, though, is my heat rash.

Now, I know that most of my regular audience is not overweight. You folks, just bear with me. I know there are a couple of you out there who will feel my pain, so I will forge on.

See, my thighs touch at the top. No, truth be told, they just kind of moosh together these days. So, when I walk during the summertime, the friction, together with the unavoidable sweat, generates this amazing rash. Especially since I kind of adjust my pants downward so I don’t have an assfront (you know, when your front looks like your ass — kind of the fat version of a camel toe). Now, I know this is TMI, but my legs rub together right where the crotch of my pants ends up living. This makes for some amazing, sweaty, red and inflammed pain.

What confuses me, though, is that I woke up with this rash this morning. Yesterday, when I went to sleep, I was perfectly fine. We even had our new A/C on in the bedroom all night. This confuses me.

At any rate, I have to wonder if anyone noticed me adjusting my pants funny at work, and sitting a little more unladylike at my desk.

Thunderstorms

I love summer rain. Some people are freaked out by thunder and lightning. I am calmed by it, and find it beautiful.

But there’s a reason for that.

See, when my Mom was little, she had a scary incident involving a thunderstorm and a man who played a sick joke on her, telling her she’d never see her mother again. Mom obviously did not see the humor in this, being only a little kid, and was consequently freaked out by thunderstorms for a long time after.

I was born when Mom was 21, at that age when childhood is still relatively fresh in your mind. (Listen to me, at the ripe fucking old age of 27, sounding like some wizened scholar or something.) Anyway, she decided to help me not be as frightened of storms as she was. One of my first vague memories is of being cradled in my mother’s arms, standing in the open front doorway. I could smell and feel the rain, and hear it, and hear the thunder, and all the while my mother was telling me how beautiful it was. I’d like to think that’s part of the reason I love thunderstorms so much.

Anyway, on to other things…

Turns out A’s gig is for a Harley dealership — and, seeing their website now, pretty much anything would be an improvement. She’s got her work cut out for her. When she’s not designing for their website, she’ll be doing light office work, too. Seriously… I wish her luck.

I’ll work on getting some wedding pics scanned and posted soon. Right now, it’s drumcorps season, so I’m trying to work on my long-time pet project. The Northern Aurora alumni page has seen many, many revisions and several redesigns, but this time, I’m hoping to have a design concept that sticks around for a while. If I can get some asp help — OK, not help, but someone to do it for me — it’ll be right about where I want it, in terms of functionality and design and content. Alumni are being so helpful, scanning photos and old programs and schedules and all sorts of stuff. Seventies alumni are so cool. 🙂

Can I Borrow Your Muse?

My friend Kris burned me a CD of Vegas Video 3.0 this weekend. I didn’t want it so much for its DV-editing capabilities as for its audio multitracking. I’ve felt like composing again, for the first time in about four years — I’m planning to hook up my keyboard, and to make some drum tracks on my computer, and to sing into my built-in monitor mic, and make some generally low-fi stuff. When my first song is done, I’ll give a cookie to the first person who can name the artist whose style I’m imitating.

Assuming I ever get it done and feel OK enough about it to post it…

Today at work, Mary (the upper-middle-aged, slightly flaky one) insisted that I must still be losing weight. "How do you do it?" she asked. I felt like telling her that she only notices that I’m losing weight when I wear two particular flattering shirts to work, but I knew she wouldn’t listen. So, I told her what I’ve been doing: walking at least once a day and cutting back on sweets. That’s all I’ve successfully done, anyway. I must admit, though, that it made me feel good to know that someone thinks I look better than I did. Maybe my weight is redistributing itself as I’m losing a little at a time.

Now comes the bitchy part of today’s variegated blog entry. I know A doesn’t read my blog, so I’m going to be blunt and blatant. [Note: I did edit this after the initial post, to back off on the animosity factor. Just in case.]

A blogs at work. A lot.

Yesterday, I decided to write down a play-by-play of all the ways she stalls from doing work vs. all the ways I stall from doing work. Loni, the third cog in our wheel-o-processing, never stalls from doing work. To give you an idea of how our office is set up: I sit at a computer and run checks through a little machine that reads the MICR numbers at the bottom. (This is what I mean by "processing" work.) If I spin in my chair to face my left, there’s another computer there where I fax and e-mail reports to clients, and log what accounts I’ve processed so far. On the other side of this computer, in the next desk/cubicle over, is Loni. Loni and I face the same wall while we’re processing. Behind Loni sits A. Loni and A sit back-to-back while they’re processing, but face the same way — away from me — when they send reports on their other computers. The end result of this setup is that I can see over A’s shoulder when she’s blogging on the computer she should be sending reports from.

Anyway, yesterday’s tally: nine blog-checks. Minimum. Because, see, while I’m processing, I can’t see her unless I do an over-the-shoulder glance just because I hear her keyboard going clickety-clack. And she’s not always posting; sometimes she’s checking to see if anyone’s responded to her post, or she’s checking other people’s blogs, or she’s taking surveys, et cetera. Me: yesterday, I e-mailed Aaron twice and looked at weather.com three times (mainly to discover I wouldn’t be taking my lunchtime walk due to snow).

Today’s tally: twelve blog-checks. Minimum. These were shorter but more frequent than yesterday’s. I only checked weather.com twice, and didn’t e-mail Aaron at all.

I guess my main rant about this is, if you’re going to blog during the workday, you forfeit your right to comment or complain about how long work is lasting. Because we work until all the work is done. Only in rare circumstances can we lock up work and just get back to it tomorrow.

On the flip side of this, though… rarely, if ever, do any of us take our allowed breaks. We take half-hour lunches when we’re alloted a full hour, and we work through our two ten-minute breaks. So, if you look at it like that, stalling at the computer ten times a day for two minutes each time is equal to taking a ten-minute break twice a day. But then you get into the "using Sky Bank resources (i.e. bandwidth) for personal reasons" argument, which I don’t feel like delving into…

Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday, A’s name was chosen out of a hat and she was named Employee of the Month. She (therefore, we, since I’m her ride) would have gotten a parking spot close to the employee door… had she not been a temp. Yep, she got it taken away from her because she isn’t a full-fledged Sky employee. Which kind of sucks in a way, but also made me snicker in a way. The major bad point to this is that her motivation is now at an all-time low. I guess mine would be, too.

OK, A… I guess I’ll know now if you read my blog.

Girl Talk and Power Outages

I got home from work today around 5:30pm, just in time to have missed Aaron before he went off to work himself. Sigh… But on a good note, I noticed that both my giant 20-disc CD-R trade (lots of The Smiths, The Cure, and similar bands) and my order from Lane Bryant had arrived.

Some of you may not know about Lane Bryant, be you a "normal-sized" woman or just a guy. Lane Bryant caters to the larger woman, sizes 14 to 28. — Guys, you’ll be clueless on the size thing. Let’s say that your average height, average weight (not-too-waify, not-too-fat) female is probably a size 12 or so. Maybe a 10.

(Hey, guys? If you’re squeamish about girlie talk, skip down a few paragraphs. I’m going to talk about my new bra now.)

When I was out lingerie-shopping with Sheryl on Saturday, we visited a place called That Special Woman. It’s actually a mastectomy-supply boutique, but they also carry plus-size lingerie and undergarments, to our surprize. When we arrived, the attendant ushered me into a fitting room and took my measurements, then brought me a few actual bras before I could announce my intentions to look for a long-line or bustier. Anyway, I did try on one of the bras she brought in… and holy crap, that thing was comfy! OMFG. It was an underwire, but the cleavage part didn’t stick out all funny like some of them do, and the back was plenty supportive. It didn’t threaten to pull up between my shoulder blades after a few moments of wear.

This bra, I later discovered, cost between $40 and $50. Holy crap.

So… a few days later, I visited lanebryant.com. — Actually, I visited several online stores looking for a bra just like the one I’d tried on, but Lane Bryant was the first and only place where I actually found one in my size. OK, girls, if you have big titties, or you’re a "husky" girl, I recommend this bra. Just like the one I tried on in Toledo, it has full-coverage cups, non-sticky-outtie underwires, a stay-in-place back, and it’s made of a neat-feeling cotton/Lycra blend, too. Honestly… it makes me want to squeeze my boobies like one of those stress-reliever things you see in Spencer Gifts. TMI… sorry. The underwires still get me in the armpits, though. I don’t think there’s any solving that issue.

(Hey, guys? You can come back now. It’s safe.)

After parading around in my new get-up, I reclothed myself, sat down at my computer (which had been left on to allow fellow WinMX’ers to download from me), and prepared to check my e-mail.

Cue loud, echoing, percussive noise from outside and resulting instant silence inside. Only sound: that of my hard drive spinning down. A transformer had blown, and I was in silence (but not yet darkness).

First action: look outside. I saw the neighbors congregating across the street, so I threw on a ratty old black cardigan and some shoes and went out to hobnob. The guy who lives on the corner had already gotten out the cell and phoned the city. Looked like he was still in his work clothes: dress pants, crisp collared shirt. I wandered across to the other neighbors, catty-cornered from us. I met Toby (I think), Danny (short for Danielle?) and her husband Rob (Ron?), and a few others. We chatted for a while about how much we like the neighborhood, how we got to live here, how nice this side of town is (away from the bar crawl), etc. Eventually Toby’s wife had to go get grilling-out supplies, so we all dispersed from their driveway and went back to our own houses.

The power still wasn’t on, and it was almost thinking about getting on to dusk, but not quite. So on to the second action: get out the candles. It’s not dark yet, but who knows when it will be. I’d rather be prepared than fumbling around looking for the lighter. I managed to locate one votive in a tulip-stem holder; two votives in short, roundish holders; one votive in the snowman my Mom gave me for Christmas; and one scented candle-in-a-jar from my grandmother. I lit them all and placed them strategically around the apartment. Then it occured to me that I wanted to go trim the hedges, so I blew them all out but two. 🙂

Watered the houseplants, trimmed the hedges. As I was outside, I saw a relatively rare occurence: there were people outside. Danny, her husband, and their neighbors had started a pick-up game of basketball — "PIG" or "HORSE" or something like that. Neighborhood kids were biking, skateboarding, and inline skating up and down the street, and some of them joined the game. Neighbors peeked their heads out to see if the city had come out yet, and some still milled about, meeting one another.

I finished pruning, went back inside, got my book and headed back out to sit on the front steps. (Or the "front stoop," as my Mom or Memaw would call it.) Reading was actually a facade — I was listening to the b-ball game ("How old are you? Thirteen?"), watching the kids skate up and down the street, quipping very junior-high-ish rips on one another, and eventually watching the city workers fix the transformer up the road. Once my porch light came back on, I retreated back indoors. Others didn’t, though — the game went on, at least until the families’ respective cookouts were ready for consumption.

It occured to me after this minor incident that the invention and maintreaming of electricity was probably one of the first steps toward the decline of the family and community. I won’t say I’d rather be without it, and I won’t say that it’s done more harm than good. I will say, though, that the hour that the block was without electricity was probably the most social hour I’ve seen here.

Think about it: you can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, play PS2/Gamecube/X-Box, play on the internet… what can you do? Read. Do something creative. Socialize. Gossip, even. When it gets dark, you light a candle, read or write by the flickering flame, talk with family, and go to bed. Simple.

The days before electricity had to be so different… it’s hard even to imagine.

Fragile Moods

Lately, my emotional state has been unusually unstable. At work, I just zone out and do what has to be done, so I don’t really consider myself to be in a bad mood, even if I look it. But once I get home, one little insignificant thing can puncture any good mood I’ve cultivated and put me on a ridiculous downward spiral.

For example (you knew it was coming), today I got home before 6:00. Nice, normal day at work. Not long, not stressful. Got my raise information from my boss, got home in time for the news. Was planning to vacuum the kitchen (seriously – it’s carpeted) or clean the skanky tub or something after dinner, plus research embroidery websites so I can see what not to do on Sheryl’s and my new web venture. I was proud of myself yesterday for shaking the internet addiction and not even booting up my computer when I got home from work, so I knew I’d have oodles of e-mail waiting for me. So, after eating some pierogies, I fired up the Sheryl Special to see who loved me.

I got three e-mails from Amy, and I knew what they had to be… berating me for not mailing her the vital color swatch for her bridesmaid’s dress. I was right. She gave me a dressing-down like I deserved. Nonetheless, it still punctured my good mood. (Not your fault, Amy. You needed to give me a swift kick in the ass.) So, for the past hour or so, I’ve been kind of deflated. That one thing really brought my excitement about the evening to a dead standstill. That’s not right. I shouldn’t be this volatile. Not even a tagboard post from Timmay managed to cheer me up.

My last post dealt with a similar situation; this is becoming a trend of sorts.

What is wrong with me? It can’t just be wedding planning… can it?

Later today…

The internet is an amazing place. I was just thinking of a poem my mother used to read to me when I was little. She had a whole notebook of poems and sayings she’d collected. (I wish I knew where that notebook was.) I used to have the poem memorized, but I couldn’t recall how it started, so I Googled a line I knew for sure. Sure enough, 48 hits came back, all including this untitled poem. I found a good site about it, with all the backstory anyone knows about it compiled together.

So, here it is, the way my mother used to read it to me, including the intro:

This poem was handed to a teacher by a 12th grade student. It is not known if the student actually wrote it himself; it is known that he committed suicide two weeks later.

He always wanted to explain things
But no one cared
So he drew
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn’t anything
He wanted to carve it in stone
Or write it in the sky
He would lie out on the grass
And look up at the sky
And it would be only the sky and him that needed saying
And it was after that
He drew the picture

It was a beautiful picture
He kept it under his pillow
And would let no one see it
And he would look at it every night
And think about it
And when it was dark
And his eyes were closed
He could still see it
And it was all of him
And he loved it

When he started school he brought it with him
Not to show anyone but just to have it with him
Like a friend
It was funny about school
He sat in a square brown desk
Like all the other square brown desks
And he thought it should be red
And his room was a square brown room
Like all the other rooms
And it was tight and close
And stiff
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk
With his arms stiff and his feet flat on the floor
Stiff
With the teacher watching
And watching
The teacher came and smiled at him
She told him to wear a tie
Like all the other boys
He said he didn’t like them
And she said it didn’t matter!
After that they drew
And he drew all yellow
And it was the way he felt about morning
And it was beautiful
The teacher came and smiled at him
"What’s this?" she said
"Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?"
"Isn’t that beautiful?"

After that his mother bought him a tie
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships
Like everyone else
And he threw the old picture away
And when he lay out alone and looked out at the sky
It was big and blue and all of everything
But he wasn’t anymore
He was square inside and brown
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone else
And the things inside him that needed saying
Didn’t need it anymore
It had stopped pushing
It was crushed
Stiff
Like everything else.

Hot or Not?

What the fuck has society come to when a moderately degrading but humorous website has become a TV game show? Twenty-somethings parading themselves up a runway to have three judges decide whether they’re hot or not? (Criteria are face, body, and overall sex appeal, in case you were wondering.) This is not healthy for society, I’m sure.

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with supermodels in ads and on television, and either consciously or subconsciously compare ourselves to them. Do we have to see the 2% of the population that almost look like them, too? And do we have to keep judging people on their looks? Weren’t we told in 4th grade that it’s what’s on the inside that counts?

Apparently our teachers were full of shit. But that’s no surprize.

Amusing distractions online

Looking for a fun and simple Flash game? Check out this hunting game… but be forewarned: losing this game is painful. In a very special way.

Ever feel like websurfing, but don’t know where to start? boingboing.net is a good place — deceptively simple-looking, and packed with amusing tidbits guaranteed to keep you busy and enthralled with the joy that is the internet.

News flash! Every U.S. resident who purchased a prerecorded music product between January 1, 1995 and December 22, 2000 is entitled to a piece of the pie. That is, since music prices were so inflated during that time (you mean they’re not still?), everyone who joins the settlement group is entitled to between $5 and $20. If the amount per settlement member drops below $5, the money will instead be donated to an appropriate charity.

William Gibson, author of such fantastic cyberpunk novels as Neuromancer and Count Zero, among others, now has a website… including a blog. Oh, by the way, he has a new book coming out: Pattern Recognition, due out in February. Visit Mr. Gibson’s website to read an excerpt.

Gibson on Gibson:

Google me and you can learn that I do it all on a manual typewriter, something that hasn’t been true since 1985, but which makes such an easy hook for a lazy journalist that I expect to be reading it for the rest of my life. I only used a typewriter because that was what everyone used in 1977, and it was manual because that was what I happened to have been able to get, for free. I did avoid the Internet, but only until the advent of the Web turned it into such a magnificent opportunity to waste time that I could no longer resist. Today I probably spend as much time there as I do anywhere, although the really peculiar thing about me, demographically, is that I probably watch less than twelve hours of television in a given year, and have watched that little since age fifteen. (An individual who watches no television is still a scarcer beast than one who doesn’t have an email address.) I have no idea how that happened. It wasn’t a decision.

I do have an email address, yes, but, no, I won’t give it to you. I am one and you are many, and even if you are, say, twenty-seven in grand global total, that’s still too many. Because I need to have a life and waste time and write.

I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here.

And now for something completely different… paper cameras. Not disposable cameras — paper cameras. As in, a camera without the camera. As in, origami photopaper = pinhole camera.

Hey, Schavitz! Here’s a companion for your robot dog!

The Operation: the fine art of pornographic film. The streaming RealVideo doesn’t work, but there are stills galore. Filmed entirely in infrared, this film is both erotic and eerie. …At least, it looks like it is.

OK, OK… that’s enough randomness for one night. But wasn’t it fun?

(Note to self: Use red-eye reduction on new camera to avoid future demon-spawn photos. Post initial roll of new-camera photos soon.)

"…A Brand New Car!"

[insert “Price is Right” theme here]

[spoken in Rod Roddy announcer voice:]
That’s right, folks! Diana Cook and Aaron Schnuth are now the proud owners of a brand new 2003 Kia Spectra! Diana can now drive to work in style in this pepper-red four-door sedan! Complete with AM/FM/CD Stereo, Air Conditioning, and an Automatic Transmission, this gem is sure to make the happy couple into the talk of the town… [end Rod Roddy voice]

No shit. We are joint-owners of a car loan for the next five years. Along with it comes a damn spiffy new vehicle, though. 🙂 If our new car were to be fabricated inside The Matrix construct, it would look like this:

Anyway, this saves us enormous car-related stress when going on road trips (i.e. ‘will the car make it back alive’), it saves me cab fare (sort of… I think the car payment might be higher…), and it makes both of us mobile. We’re both insured on both cars, so whichever car is at the end of the driveway is the lucky winner of the moment.

Come visit on New Year’s, and you can see the new car… nudge, nudge…

Local flavor experience

Got off work early for once. It was still light out. I was geeked. After chillin’ for a while behind the computer, I walked to Ben Franklin to find a Christmas present for Kris (actually, I just had to purchase the finishing touches). So, while I was downtown, I decided to stop into Grounds for Thought for some coffee goodness on the way home. Got my Milky Way (a mocha with a healthy dose of caramel and a couple dollops of whipped cream), silently approved of the R.E.M. playing in the background (must have been some album before Green, because I didn’t recognize it — sorry, Aaron), and planned to slip out the back.

The first thing I noticed was that the Children’s section had been moved. It’s usually there on the back wall of the cafe proper as you walk back into the happily cramped shelves of used books. Hmm… more books on the side wall. Neat. I turned to exit out the side door — to find it was no longer there.

WTF?

Yes, apparently Grounds purchased the store next door and tore out the wall, because the happily cramped stacks are now spacious and comfy. I made a dork of myself by wandering around, gaping at all the room. I believe I even marveled aloud. I must bring Amy to see this.

For once, a good thing is made even better.

Unrelated discoveries: one fun, one not-so-fun

We begin with the fun: wilwheaton.net.

actual photo from wilwheaton.netHe’s 30, he’s married, and he has blue hair. It’s freaky on some level, yet comforting on another. As much as it might disturb Wil to hear it, he’s kind of like a long-distance high-school or college buddy. That’s how he comes across on his page. Totally honest, frank, and certainly more than a touch dorky. (Hell, who isn’t?) His web-design skills are pretty middle-of-the-road, his writing style is familiar and fresh, and he has interests that “normal” people have. And he likes The Pixies. Plus, after watching his character Wesley grow up on Star Trek: The Next Generation (now who’s the dork?), it’s neat to see what he’s like in real life, and to know that he’s just as cool as you’d hope an actor (and aspiring writer) your age would be.

I know, I know… I’m not 30 yet. In the grand scheme of things, though, those four years don’t really matter much.

Now, to the not-so-fun discovery. Actually, it’s downright depressing.

On Thanksgiving, I went to visit my grandmother at her new nursing home. Beforehand, my step-Gary felt the need to call me and warn me of her mental condition. Seems she would be OK for a while, then start talking about feeding pet mice and stepping on cockroaches and all sorts of random things that may or may not have root in reality. So, I felt I was armed with the knowledge that my Memaw was going off her rocker, and things would be cool.

As one might expect, the visit was unusual at best. At least when I used to visit her before, she was recognizable. This wispy-haired, bent wraith of a woman bore very little resemblance to the Memaw that I knew and loved. True to form, she wasn’t wearing her hearing aid or her teeth, and she did indeed go off on random tangents. I smiled and nodded along, answering loudly when appropriate. Just to prove how erratic her behavior had been, when she stood up to show me how much weight she had lost, I discovered that the staff had her bed monitored; when she stood, a beeping alarm sounded. At first I thought her oxygen had been disconnected, but no. It was so she wouldn’t try to wander off and break a window to escape again.

Seriously.

I dealt well with the visit at the time. I even saw the humor in it. Memaw was going off the deep end. Funny stuff. I joked with Aaron about it on the way to Parma to visit my folks.

Later, though, the truth of the matter set in. I really don’t have a Memaw anymore.

Yes, I know she’s still alive, and I should be thankful for that. But my Memaw, the one that fabricated my imaginary friend when I was two, the one who made up lullabies that stood the test of time, the one who could cook almost anything I asked for, the one with the slightly warped sense of humor (one aspect of her I didn’t fully realize until I was a little older), that Memaw… she’s gone.

Maybe it’s easier to lose her this way, slowly, so I can come to terms with it. Maybe it’s better than just getting a phone call out of the blue, telling me I’ll have to cash in my Bereavement Days at work.

But she’s still my Memaw. And God, I miss her already.