Saturday, December 6, 2008

Plan for Finishing My Novel

Write Missing Scenes

  1. Make a list of missing scenes. (Luckily, I already have easy-to-spot placeholders throughout the document, so this step should be pretty mechanical.)
  2. Calculate how long it should take me to write these scenes. Set goals.
  3. Write the scenes! Same "quality" bar as for NaNo; just get the remaining scenes written.

Track Characters

  1. Annotate the document with where characters appear in the scenes.
  2. Evaluate this character-appearances list: Who just disappears after chapter 4? Who randomly appears in chapter 8 as a major character (eg, the real antagonist; oops!) Decide whether to cut a character, combine multiple characters, or give a character a larger role so that their removal is unnecessary.
  3. Make a list of "missed opportunities" that I might want to work into the story. (For example, no one important ever wrestles with whether to Sacrifice themselves. There's potential for good conflict/drama there, but the plot would have to be altered for it to be necessary.)
  4. Make a list of scenes to add, modify, cut, or move.

Let both lists stew while going through the next two phases...

Research and World-Building

  1. Read books about relevant Earth history: guilds, non-monarchy governments, coups (successful or not), dictators (especially their motivations), etc. Take notes.
  2. Outline my territory's history, based on research. (How did they end up with their semi-representative High Council system of government? What have flesh/spirit relations been like before the current Guild system? What are the neighboring territories, and how have they influenced this territory's history and culture? Etc.)
  3. Write character bios (including basic ones for "scenery" characters).

Practice Writing

(done concurrently with the researching step above)

  1. Read books on writing. Take notes.
  2. Do writing exercises (not on my NaNo story, though).
  3. Critique other people's writing to practice what to look for in my own writing.
  4. Read other authors. Note how they handle characterization, magic (especially mental battles, which I had trouble writing), government-taking-over intrigue, romantic subplots that aren't lame...

Refine Plot and Characters

  1. While referring to the world-building notes and character bios, re-read the story and take notes about scenes and subplots to add or modify.
  2. Write the scenes! At the end of the next step, I should feel ready for beta readers...

Revise Draft

Here there be beta readers! By the time I get to here, the plot and characters should actually be fleshed out the way I like. From this point on, I'll be working on the smaller parts of the story: word choice, tone, etc. I'll figure out in more detail what needs to be worked on once I get to here.


Friday, December 5, 2008

ʇsod uʍop-ǝpısdn

(˙ʇsod ƃoןq sıɥʇ ʍǝıʌ oʇ ssǝupooƃ ǝpoɔıun ɥʇıʍ ʇuoɟ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɯos ɹo sɯ ǝpoɔıun ןɐıɹɐ pǝǝu ןןıʍ noʎ)

˙˙˙ooʇ 'sǝʇıs ʎʇıןıʇn ǝƃɐɯı-ɹoɹɹıɯ ǝɹǝʍ ǝɹǝɥʇ ʎןuo ɟı ʍou ¡unɟ ǝɥʇ uo uı uıoɾ uɐɔ noʎ ʇɐɥʇ os ןɯʇɥ˙sɹǝʇʇǝןuʍopǝpısdn/ʎɐןd/ɯoɔ˙sǝɹıʍuǝʌǝs˙ʍʍʍ//:dʇʇɥ ʇno ʞɔǝɥɔ oƃ ˙op ʎǝɥʇ ǝsɹnoɔ ɟo ¿ʇɥƃıɹ 'uʍop-ǝpısdn ǝʇıɹʍ oʇ sʇuɐʍ ǝuoʎɹǝʌǝ os


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

First Drafts

During November, "pep talk" emails are periodically sent out to Wrimos. Published authors wrote these pep talks, which was pretty cool. The post-NaNo one was written by Kelley Armstrong (whom, I must admit, I hadn't heard of), author of several fantasy novels. She had this to say to us unpublishing Wrimo winners:

What NaNoWriMo gave me was a quick and dirty first draft, and by the end of it, I could see that my book had some good stuff... and it had some serious problems and missed opportunities. ... If a multi-published author can’t expect to turn out a publishable first draft during NaNoWriMo, then neither should you. ... It’s a rare writer who publishes the first book they wrote — I didn’t — so practice is invaluable.

The "missed opportunities" part is so true! I am braving the waters of letting other Wrimos critique my steaming pile of— er, I mean, my rough draft. Just writing the synopsis for my story, I realized "omg, I should have done that to the character!" or "d'oh, of course I need to include this!" That's what revising is for, eh?


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finishing NaNo Today

Writing to you from the NaNo trenches: I have 47,285 words written right now. The 50,000 word finish line is in sight! I will be holed up at Peet's Coffee today until I cross it. I am going to win this year. Woohoo! :)

Update, 1:13 PM: I'm now at 48,325 words. 1.7k left to go!

Update, 5:37 PM: I did it! 50,000 words! I win! :D


Friday, November 28, 2008

Literary Books

I'm at Barnes & Noble, about to start writing for today's NaNo session. About a month ago, this particular bookstore had rearranged its shelves so that "Fiction & Literature" is on one side of the building, while things like Mystery, Romance, and Science Fiction & Fantasy are on the other side.

So as I was walk past the information booth on the way to a comfy seat with electricity, I overhear an employee talking to a customer: "I think we're trying to separate the more literary books from the, um..."

I can't help but smile, hearing her talk herself into an awkward corner. She notices me smiling; she half-smiles back at me. I laugh, having caught her in her literary snobbery. She laughs too, as does the other customer. We all know what she's avoiding saying. (I happen to disagree that non-"literary" books are the bane of literature like some do, but it was still an amusing moment.)

...Can I include these 171 words as part of today's word count? ;)


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This is the very first year I've not gone home for Thanksgiving. It feels weird. But Forrest, Jerry, and I made a pretty good showing at our Thanksgiving dinner. They cooked most of the food — I only contributed Stove Top stuffing and fudge-in-a-box — but I kept them supplied with clean knives, pots, pans, measuring cups, etc by washing everything as they cooked.

We have sooooo much leftovers now! We, um, possibly had too much food: roasted turkey (only 8 pounds!), stuffing (both in-bird and on-stove), mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, lefse, waldorf salad, peas and pearl onions, pumpkin pie, a mini cranberry tart-pie-thing, fudge, chips, milk, Dr. Pepper, Johannesburg Riesling, Franciscan Merlot (2004 vintage, a little too young), and some mead. And we still need to make turkey carcass soup!


Friday, November 21, 2008

TypeRacer is Addictive Fun

Do you have skills of a typist? Go type at TypeRacer and see how you do!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Decaf, Half-Caf, Whatever

This weekend I had an annoying headache for much of Sunday, which I'm attributing to caffeine withdrawal. I had switched to half-caf at work to avoid just such a thing, but when I drink 2–3 half-caf cups of coffee every day, they add up. Forrest suggested I do a taste test to see if I can even tell the difference between half-caf and decaf, and switch to the latter if I can't.

So I enlisted my friend Hugh's help in doing a single-blind taste test between half-caf and decaf. (I didn't compare them against regular coffee, since I'm perfectly happy with half-caf and don't want to discover now that I actually prefer the fully leaded version. I'm looking to downgrade, not upgrade, my caffeine intake.)

Hugh made up three cups of coffee — using the "odd man out" approach is a bit better than just two options to compare against. Each cup was discretely labeled A, 1, or unmarked. He obviously knew which was which, but he left the room while I tried to distinguish between them so that he wouldn't influence my decision.

And damned if I couldn't tell the difference! I was very mildly suspicious of cup A, thinking it was the half-caf and the other two were decaf. But really, I couldn't tell a major difference and I wasn't even sure there was a difference. I made up my mind at that point to switch to decaf, since my silly taste buds don't know any better.

Afterward, I asked Hugh which was which. It turns out that the unmarked cup was the half-caf, and the other two were decaf. I was so wrong. :P

So I start my weaning off of caffeine tomorrow!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Halfway Done with NaNo

I hit the halfway mark — 25,000 words — just one day behind schedule. Wootles! This is the most I've ever written for one story, so this is rather exciting for me. :)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pet Sitting: Boarding vs In-Home Visits

Forrest and I are looking for a pet sitter for the cats while we're off visiting family for the holidays. I hadn't heard of in-home pet visits before, and I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, the cats would definitely be happier on their own spacious, familiar turf. On the other hand, it would be some stranger we'd met only once before (during the "consultation" most of them do) in our house, and the cats would be unsupervised for most of the day. I'm sure they're already calculating the perfect place to pee. (The cats, not the sitters. ;))

Have any of you had experiences one way or the other?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Watching My Bus Drive Away

I woke up late, looked at the clock, saw I had 13 minutes to get to my scheduled company bus pickup, and jumped up out of bed. So I'm bleary and tired, rushing around getting ready. I drive over to where the bus will pick me up, since I don't have 20 minutes to spare to walk there. As I'm parking a block from the bus stop, the bus comes by, picks up the people waiting for it, and drives off. Arrrrg!

So I drove to work today, which means no morning NaNo word count. :( Plus I feel groggy. Bleh. JIT mocha to the rescue!


Monday, November 10, 2008

15k and Picking Up Steam

Chris Baty threw down the gauntlet last night in his Week Two pep talk email:

Meanwhile, back in the trenches, I sent out a pep talk [Sunday night] challenging everyone in NaNoLand to get to 15,000 words by bedtime on Monday.

I so totally kicked that challenge's ass: 15,005 words, baby! I'm only one day behind now, which means I've already made up for one of the two days during the first week that I barely wrote anything. As Baty points out in his pep talk email, this year's November is blessed with 5 whole weekends, so I'm gonna catch up before the end of the month. I'm excited. :)

Things are starting to pick up in my story, too. Dark secrets are coming to light, both for Our Heroine and someone who was supposed to be just a "scenery" character but is now vying for a larger supporting role. Cardboard-cutout mean characters are discovered to have good reasons for their actions. Our Hero is finally showing a little bit of interest in Our Heroine; sure did take his sweet time about it!

The writing is still atrocious, of course. This is NaNoWriMo, after all. But I'm actually getting more enthusiastic about my story than the first couple days, which is different from my two failed NaNo attempts in 2004 and 2005. Whee! Later is the time for atrocity-fixing; now is the time to put butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, and get that first draft out of my head on down on paper (as it were).

I fudged the timestamp of this post, but it's only 15 minutes after midnight and definitely before bedtime, so it's still within the spirit of Baty's challenge. I don't feel guilty, not one bit. :)


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Characters Should Not Have Minds of Their Own

Dear Heroine,

Please do not break the rules of the world you live in. You are messing up my story. Go do as you are told... or tell me how you did the supposedly impossible!

The Author


/me does the 10k dance

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Saturday to announce: I just broke 10,000 words for my NaNo story! Wheee! :) That is all. Now back to your regular Saturday activities.

Shhhhh, don't point out that 10k was Thursday's target word count. I'm celebrating over here.


Reports of 401(k) Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

If you google for "Ghilarducci 401k," you will find a lot of outrage over Professor Ghilarducci's proposal to change 401(k)s. I heard about this back in October from one of my finance blogs (although now I can't find the original post...). Read the google results for details of her proposal itself.

Her plan sounded to me like a pretty bad overreaction to the current financial situation. Representative McDermott was mentioned in the blog posts and news articles as being in charge of the hearing where Ghilarducci spoke, so I sent him an email telling him my opinion.

"He" (by which I mean his staff) sent back a form letter saying it's all blown out of proportion and not likely to actually happen. His response says bloggers have got things wrong, but in my Google alerts I haven't seen anything but "the sky is falling" about Ghilarducci and 401(k)s. So here's the reply he sent me, so it's at least out there somewhere on the internet:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns over testimony by University of Notre Dame economics professor Teresa Ghilarducci regarding her proposal for eliminating preferential tax treatment of 401(k) plans. I welcome your interest in this matter.

A number of bloggers have incorrectly characterized my intentions and actions concerning this tax issue. I did not convene the hearing on this issue, though Professor Ghilarducci did testify before the Education and Labor Committee as a member of a panel discussing retirement savings. I am not a member of this committee and was not present and therefore did not attend the hearing.

Please be assured that I have no plans to eliminate the tax incentives for 401(k) plans. Rather, I am actively exploring ways to provide more incentives for families to save and to prepare for retirement. I regret that some blogs have misinterpreted my intentions. I share your concerns about Ms. Ghilarducci's proposal; at the same time, we must continue to encourage discussion of thoughtful proposals that can help to improve income security for retirees. While Ms. Ghilarducci's plan is not one I support, I am willing to listen to new and innovative ideas from many sources; certainly, careful scrutiny of new suggestions is always appropriate as we attempt to effectively address issues of retirement security.

Again, thank you for sharing your views and concerns. I appreciate hearing from you.


Jim McDermott
Member of Congress

Sure, it's generic politispeak, but I couldn't find this response (or really any page saying anything other than "oh noes, the Democrats be stealin' your 401(k)!" (What's a financial post without a lolrus link?)

Update, November 10th: I'm finally seeing calmer posts about this in my google alerts. Blogger John Clinton writes, "All in all, it looks to me like a case of someone in the media going after the big attention-grabbing angle of the story — Congress wants to kill off 401(k) plans! — and ignoring the other four sides of the issue."

Update, November 20th: And now weighs in!


Exclude Comments from Google Docs Word Count

Google Docs has no way of excluding comments (from the Insert > Comments menu, or Ctrl-M) from a document's word count. This bugs me; for NaNo, I want to know my real word count, not my story+comments fake word count. I sent in a suggestion to the Great Google, but there's no guarantee that they'll ever decide it's worth implementing a "word count minus comments" option.

So I took it upon myself to write a Greasemonkey script that toggles comments in a Google Document. When comments are hidden, they won't contribute to your word count.

Technically, I manage this by stuffing the comment text into the comment <span> element's "title" attribute and deleting the text content of the comment. Toggle again and the title repopulates the text content. This makes sure the comment text is never actually removed from the HTML source of your document, which is what Google saves.

I sorta doubt that any other Wrimos (that's a participant of NaNoWriMo) will use my script, but I will use my script, and that's all that really matters. :)


Friday, November 7, 2008

Scammy Car Warranty Phone Call

I got a phone call from 978-409-5210 today. I usually let weird area code numbers go to voicemail, but I was in a curious mood, so I answered it.

This is your second notice [actually, this is the first I've heard from them] about the factory warranty expiring on your vehicle. It's not too late to renew! This is the final call you will receive. Press 2 to be removed from our list [didn't they just say this was the final call?], or press 1 to speak to a representative. [Sure, what the hell.]
You are number 1 in line to speak to a representative.
Would you like to find out more about continuing your car warranty?
First, who are you?
[pause] Well, my name—
What company is this?
My name is is Aaron.
But what company do you work for?

I don't know why, but the <click> response to asking such a simple question really amuses me. Although I think the Spanish scam phone call was more fun. :)

A quick googling shows that someone else also had a run-in with our scamsters, although he had much more fun with the scammer. According to Google Phonebook, 978-409-5210 is a Massachusetts number belonging to Marilyn Freedman. I doubt that info is accurate, though.

Update, November 28: I just got a second call from these scammers! The new number they called from is 505-986-8074, which the Internets says is a Santa Fe number this time. I talked with "Fred" today. I immediately asked him what company he worked for. Rather than hang up like last time, he just stopped responding. I could hear his call-center scammer buddies in the background, but he wouldn't respond to anything I said. So this time, I hung up on them.

According to 16 Ways You Can Be Phone Scammed, this auto warranty call is #1. Says the site:

Typically the goal is to get you to reveal personal, bank account information, or to make you do something that will result in unwanted charges on your account. ...

Tracing the calls to the companies is difficult. The calls often come from telemarketing centers located overseas. Also, the companies often spoof their caller ID information to display someone’s else’s real number. When people receive these calls they dial the number they see on Caller ID and leave angry messages for an unsuspecting victim. Two-three days later the telemarketers change the Caller ID number and the scam continues.

Indeed, calling the number back results in that error tone and That Lady saying, "We're sorry, the number you have dialed has been disconnected."

Update, August 31, 2009: The FTC filed suit against these guys (or at least someone running the same scam) this May. The FTC complaint names Voice Touch Inc, James and Maureen Dunne, Voice Touch called Network Foundations LLC, Damian Kohlfeld, Transcontinental Warranty Inc, and Christopher D Cowart as defendants.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Comments are Fixed

Eek, posting comments was broken! I've revert back to the "full page" comments like they were before. I'll try following a suggested fix for embedded comments later. Sorry 'bout that, guys!


Help with Story Names and Terms

Yay bus! I figured out how to write on my laptop without getting motion-sick. I write with the laptop lid mostly shut, so I just have enough room to type but not see the screen. Works wonders for shutting up the Internal Editor, too. :P

Because I took the bus, I wrote 1690 words yesterday! And this morning, I woke up early, wrote 300 words before I left the house, and wrote another 842 while on the bus. Of course, the NaNo goal for today is the 10k mark, so at 6854 I'm still pretty behind. But I do feel more like I can catch up, so that's good.

In other NaNo news... Perhaps my dear devoted readers could help out with some naming problems I'm running into. Here's what I need named:

  • Drei LastName, something that sounds good together for yelling at a teenage girl; Drei is an addict, runaway, and thief, so she's going to regularly get yelled at :)
  • the Something Tavern, where Our Hero goes to drown the sorrows of his young daughter dying
  • Grandfather Rordechin, Our Heroine's grandfather and the leader of their guild. He's a mean, demanding old coot but he's done Good Things for the guild
  • GuildLeader Master, a title for the, well, guild leader :)
  • better, more fantasy-esque terms for cremation, the cremator (the man who runs the shop), and the crematorium (the shop itself)
  • psychic energy, the source of magic. All people have energy; only magic spirits (who were once people) can use said energy to do magic.
  • a follower, someone who gives their energy to a spirit (usually voluntarily)
  • a mind controller Memorist, a type of spirit with the magical ability to read, create, or extract memories from both the living and the recently dead
  • the sacrifice ritual Sacrifice, when a normal person does some ritual, gives up their body, and their energy becomes a spirit with magic instead
  • a priest or priestess, someone who oversees the sacrifice ritual and is a caretaker of knowledge about the spirits that isn't "common knowledge"
  • a binding token spirit gem, some physical object with both a person's and a spirit's psychic energy imprinted on it, to establish a bond for giving energy and performing stronger magic on the person

Any suggestions?


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Two Days Behind for NaNo

NaNoWriMo conveniently started on a weekend this year, which was great. I was right on target both Saturday and Sunday. Then the work week started up. :( Monday, I wrote 519 words while waiting for a doctor's appointment. Yesterday, I only managed 165 words. That puts me two days behind already! (See the Google spreadsheet of my sad progress.)

I decided to take the bus today for the sole purpose of giving myself an hour and a half of dedicated writing time during the work day. So this morning I wrote 515 words on bus ride to work. If I write around the same on the way home, that'll be 1000 words, leaving 667 to pick up to meet the normal quota. Of course, because I'm behind I need to hit 1818 words per day now instead of 1667... *sigh*

Unfortunately, writing while driving seems almost as bad for me, motion-sickness-wise, as reading while driving. Maybe some I should stock up on non-drowsy dramamine for NaNo. Or practice typing without looking at the screen. :)


Code Monkey Like Fritos

I've had the song Code Monkey Like Fritos by Jonathan Coulton stuck in my head today, and realized that I had never blogged about it! Now, I know most of my geeky friends have already heard the song, but just in case you haven't, go listen now. :)

The first stanza of the song is probably my favorite:

Code Monkey get up get coffee
Code Monkey go to job
Code Monkey have boring meeting
With boring manager Rob
Rob say Code Monkey very diligent
But his output stink
His code not "functional" or "elegant"
What do Code Monkey think?
Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write god damned login page himself
Code Monkey not say it out loud
Code Monkey not crazy, just proud


Saturday, November 1, 2008

1690 Words Down, 48310 To Go

As you can see from the fancy-dancy progress meter in the sidebar, I'm 3.4% of the way done with my NaNoWriMo writing. The goal is 1667 words each day, so I'm a tiny bit ahead with 1690 today!

On the downside, I'm writing really slowly: only 440 words per hour. I'm spending way too much time wondering what exactly to write, or deleting a sentence and re-wording it. This is not how NaNo is supposed to be. This is supposed to be a quickly written first draft, no Internal Editors allowed. So I need to stop editing even as much as I'm doing (which is only half-assed editing, since I know I'm not supposed to be editing during NaNo), and I think I need a more detailed outline that covers what to write for the next day.

So maybe I'll go outline a bit before heading to bed...

And here's a shout-out to my two friends who are also doing NaNo this year. They haven't posted today's numbers yet; I wish you both 1667 words! :)


Friday, October 31, 2008

Pro Obama, Anti Raptor

Pro Obama, Anti Raptor

My household is a pro Obama, anti raptor household, and we are announcing such this Halloween!

(Don't get the raptor? See comics Velociraptors, Substitute, Search History, and the xkcd store. :))


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Magic or a Body, Take Your Pick

For NaNoWriMo, I was going to write about some story set on Cresaea again this year. But I couldn't think of a story I really wanted to do right now — I'm feeling more like a magic-related story, and there's no magic on Cresaea.

Then, last weekend while falling asleep, my brain thought, "What if anyone could have magic, so it's not only 'special' or 'talented' people, but in order to get magic, you have to give up your body?" So that's the premise behind the world I'm writing about this November.

I'm still exploring the implications this premise of magic would have on a society. Many things are still in flux or undecided. I have a very draft-y plot outline and world-building notes, but mostly I'm going into NaNo less prepared than I'd like. Hopefully it works out anyhow! Wish me luck. :)


Sunday, October 19, 2008

NaNoWriMo, Attempt 3

My first year of participating in NaNoWriMo was in 2004. I got to 19,292 words by the end of that November. In 2005, I made some character notes and had an idea for the story, and I even blogged that I wrote something like 4,000 words, but that text file is nowhere to be found now. :( I didn't even try to participate in 2006 or 2007, after the dismal failures that were 2004 and 2005.

So this morning, I got an email from my best friend from high school, asking if I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I hadn't really thought about it, and I didn't have a story idea, but this year it sounds like a fun and silly challenge again. I spent the day at Barnes & Noble, reading books on writing. I'm still not sure what I'll write about, but I have two more weeks to come up with something...


Thursday, October 2, 2008

JIT Mochas

JIT Mocha
JIT Mocha

I like mochas; just ask my wallet. But I get free coffee at work, so I'm not buying as many mochas as I used to. Yet I miss my mochas...

So, I tried to come up with a way to satisfy my mocha cravings while still taking advantage of free corporate coffee (which tastes better than the Kool-Aid here). I really don't care for ghetto mochas. Instead, I came up with something that I still find tasty, even if it's not quite the same as a real mocha.

I present to you the JIT mocha! (JIT stands for "just in time," if you're not in computer science.) You've got the coffee in the mug, and the chocolate Hershey's Kisses in your mouth, and they mix "just in time" as you sip the coffee. If the coffee's hot enough, the Kiss melts right away, making it a very rich, chocolately experience.

So now you know. :)


Friday, August 8, 2008

A Kitten By Any Other Name

So after a week's worth of brainstorming and debating and rejecting names for our kittens, we've come up with a scheme both Forrest and I are quite pleased with.

As you might recall, our college cat was named Alexis by her previous owners but we called her Lex. Lex is also short for "lexer," a computer science term. So we were considering pairs of names for these two new kittens that similarly paid homage to geekiness.

The top pair of names in the running for the past several days was Amy and Glory (both characters from Cryptonomicon, a thoroughly geeky book). We both liked calling Amanda "Amy", but I balked at using the name "Glory" for Meryl. Without spoiling things, let's just say that unpleasant things happen to Glory in the book. So after some more debate and character list research, Forrest came across the name "Mary," a supporting character in the book.

We realized that this pair of Cryptonomicon names was actually perfect: the names were suitably geeky; they sounded like normal names to non-geeks; and, best of all, they could both be just nicknames for Amanda and Meryl, in the same way that Lex was really just a nickname, not a full name change. (It's unfortunate that the spelling of "Mary" doesn't more closely mirror "Meryl," but we're not willing to spell it "Merry." Or we could just say that the nickname for [meɹɪl] is [meɹi] and not worry about it. ;))

So, the kittens are still "officially" Amanda and Meryl. But for everything but paperwork, they'll be Amy and Mary to us.


Unrolled Roll of TP

Amy vs the TP
Amy vs the TP

Amanda Amy is working her way up to exploding toilet paper. Today, Forrest caught her unrolling the roll in her deviousness. Or maybe she was just saving us from the clutches of the Evil Toilet Paper. The world may never know.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Our Two Kittens Move In

We picked up our newly adopted kittens this afternoon! For the first few minutes of the car ride they were inquisitive, but about five minutes in they started wailing. We felt so bad, but there wasn't anything we could do for them and they weren't actually being harmed, despite their vocal protests to the contrary. Interestingly, they both settled down after another five minutes of us not rescuing them from the car. Perhaps they decided crying wasn't getting them anywhere, so they might as well wait it out? Dunno, but they definitely settled down for the rest of the drive.

In our house, our bedroom and bathroom have a door at the end of the hallway that closes it off into a "suite" separate from the rest of the house. The bathroom and hallway seemed like the perfect section of the house to let the kittens get acclimated to their new home without overwhelming them with the whole house at once.

This plan appears to have worked well. They've already run themselves through two complete cycles of crazy-energetic play followed by exhausted napping. We're hopping they finish up this third cycle of play and get some more rest by the time we go to sleep. :)

You can follow the Cuteness Developments in detail by watching my Flickr set for them. If you want to see any photos with me or Forrest in them, you'll have to be logged in to Flickr as "friend or family."

Addendum: Meryl Mary apparently didn't like my representation of events, preferring to speak for herself. So she hopped up here on the laptop to tell you directly:

oooooooooooooooooooooof===[[[[[[[[[ppppppppp-============== =========================================================== =================7mmmmm666666666666666666666666666666666666 666666666666666666===========

So now you know.


Saturday, August 2, 2008


Forrest and I have been wanting a cat for a while now. Last weekend we went to Cat City to drool over cute cats. But they only had two kittens, who were quickly adopted. So this weekend we went out to Homeward Pet, which had closer to a dozen kittens!

Homeward Pet won't let you adopt just one kitten if everyone in the household works full-time; you have to get two, so they can keep each other company. I had been leaning toward this logic anyway, and Forrest was convinced without too much arm-twisting. It's hard to say no to more cute kittens. :)

It didn't take us too long to gravitate toward a cage with three white-tummied brown mackerel tabbies. The three sister kittens were very friendly to us and playful amongst themselves. We decided we would adopt two of them, and we let the employee know our decision. Unfortunately, their policy is to call landlords of all renters to make sure it really is okay for them to have pets. This is a good policy, but on the other hand, it kept us from our kittens. How dare they.

Despite finding three different numbers to contact our landlords, we were unable to reach them. The Homeward Pet employee left voice messages at each number, but said she couldn't mark the kittens we wanted as "pending" until the landlord called back. We were sad, but understood. After muttering to ourselves that no one else had better steal our kittens, we left.

Later in the evening, though, Homeward Pet called us back to say the landlord had returned their call and okay'd the kittens! It was already after normal business/adoption hours, so we scheduled a time tomorrow afternoon to pick up our kittens. Very exciting!

We're not all that hot on the kittens' given names, so we want to rename them. Our last cat (back in college, before the landlord changed the pet policy to disallow cats) was named Lex, short for Alexis but also short for lexer. If you have a suitably computer-y or otherwise geeky name, we're accepting suggestions. :)

Update, August 9th: Suitable geeky names have been found!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Work Motivation, or Lack Thereof

So if you search for what employers can do to increase employee motivation, you'll get a list that includes:

  • money
  • opportunity for growth
  • leadership opportunities
  • responsibility
  • recognition of performance

Why do so few of the search results for work motivation talk about what I feel is a key motivational factor? Namely, giving a shit about the thing you're working on.

Feeling like the product you're working on is subpar and not likely to improve is a real drain on motivation. :(

I don't want to talk with people about what I work on. If they're not familiar with it, I have no reasons to recommend that they learn about it or try it. If they are familiar with it, I have to agree with all their complaints about it and then some.

I need to work on a different product...


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Overnight Camping at Ohanapecosh

Area Around the Camp Site

See all this trip's photos on Flickr.

I had written this post right after the camping trip, but I only just now (20 days later) realized that I had never clicked the "Publish Post" button. Oops!

Last Saturday around noon, Forrest proposed that we go camping. We stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up a Coleman lantern and some food, hit some traffic on the way to the library (for reading material that we ended up not actually reading), and drove the two hours out to Ohanapecosh campground in Mount Rainier National Park. It was raining on the drive up through Enumclaw, but then it cleared up and turned sunny. The weather's like that in Seattle — never assume that bad weather now means bad weather in 5 minutes.

We were a little concerned about the campground being full, since we were heading out somewhat late Saturday rather than on Friday afternoon. But as we started up the road to Cayuse Pass, we passed several private campground that looked populated but not crowded. We figured that, worse case scenario, we could stay at one of these if Ohanapecosh were full.

Snow on the Mountains

Just past some rental cabins, Forrest said he thought he'd seen a patch of snow. "No way!" I dismissed what must have been his eyes going crazy. But then around another turn, suddenly there was snow all over the place. That'll teach me. Soon everywhere was snow-covered, and the mountains across the river looked like they'd come straight out of winter.

Down below the pass again, the snow let up but didn't disappear. When we rolled into the Ohanapecosh campground late in the afternoon, we saw plenty of scattered snow patches hanging around. We had been hoping for one of the walk-in sites, but several sections of the campground were closed and we weren't able to find them. Instead, we settled on the most "isolated" (not really) drive-up site. At least the campground was only about 50% capacity.

Forrest Tending the Fire

We bought a bundle of firewood from an enterprising man selling them out of the back of his truck, then set up camp with the last of the daylight. A few weeks ago, we had purchased a fancy-dancy six-pound backpacking tent from REI, the Marmot Aeros 3P. The "purpose" of this camping overnighter, apart from camping for camping's sake, was to give the tent a trial run before the annual Davie backpack trip this summer. I'm happy to report that the tent went up very easily, was just as roomy as it appeared to be in the store, and was otherwise a very respectable tent.

Near White-Out Foggy Clouds

The trip itself was fairly uneventful, being just one night out car-camping. But it was fun nonetheless. (This is also the result of not having finished this blog post immediately after the trip, so further details of interest escape me...) On the drive back the next afternoon, we drove through some especially thick low-lying clouds.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Siniestro Mu y Las Vacas Lobotómicas

So Forrest and I were going through boxes, putting away things, when Forrest found a scrap of paper with some Spanish written on it. He told me to search YouTube for it, at which point we stopped cleaning to watch La Tortuga Manuelita. Many clicks of "related" videos later, we came across El Baile de las Vacas:

After recovering from the hypnotic effects of the video, we watched one more on YouTube (Siniestro Mu, El Jingle) before just googling broadly for all the info we could find. (We're not warped or demented, no sir...)

The only two sites with actual animated content that I could find were:
The official site for El Show de Siniestro Mu y Las Vacas Lobotómicas. It has 3 episodes and 3 comics. ¡Quiero más episodios!
YouTube user siniestromu
This user has uploaded 7 short clips to YouTube. This is all his fault that you're being exposed to it now.

Various newspaper articles (in Spanish) say it's a Saturday morning cartoon from Panama. Where can I get it?? My Google-fu does not seem to be strong enough for this one. :(

This is more or less how I got into Veggietales. Does not bode well. ;)


Monday, April 28, 2008

"Go Home" Outlook Reminder

The Problem

Now that Forrest has moved up here, I have to change my work schedule a bit. When I had no one to go home to after work, I didn't really worry about how long I stayed in the office. Even after I put in my 8 hours, I'd be inclined to stay, reading the Intarwebs. I mean, if I was just going to be internetting when I got home anyway, what difference did it make whether I did it at home or at work?

But now, it's sad if I don't get home until 9 or 10 in the evening, tired enough to want to go straight to sleep, and I haven't seen Forrest all day. So I need to save my time-wasting (such as blog posts, hrm...) for when I'm at home, where at least we can waste time together. :)

The Geeky Semi-Solution

I will lose track of time, though, if left to my own devices. So I wrote myself a little custom "Go Home" button in Outlook, which creates an alarm 8 hours from when I get to work, that pops up and tells me to go home.

Partly to document it, and partly to help out anyone else who might like to program something similar, here's how I did it. In the Visual Basic Editor (Alt-F11 from within Outlook), I created a new function:

Sub CreateGoHomeEvent()
    Dim message, title, defaultValue As String
    Dim arrivedAtWork As String
    Dim appt As Outlook.AppointmentItem
    message = "When did you get to work today?"
    title = "Start Time"
    defaultValue = DateTime.Now
    arrivedAtWork = InputBox(message, title, defaultValue)
    If arrivedAtWork = "" Then
        ' If the returned value is blank, the user hit cancel.
        Debug.Print "Cancelling; did not create an appointment."
        Exit Sub
    End If

    Set appt = Application.CreateItem(olAppointmentItem)
    With appt
        .Categories = "Important!,Processed"
        .Subject = "Go home, it's been 8 hours!"
        .Start = DateAdd("h", 8, arrivedAtWork)
        .End = .Start
        .BusyStatus = olFree
        .ReminderMinutesBeforeStart = 15
        .ReminderSet = True
    End With
    Debug.Print "Created a 'Go Home' reminder for " & appt.Start & "."
End Sub

Then I customized the Outlook toolbar to include a button that calls this new macro. It prompts me for the time I got to work, defaulting to the current time. If I click the OK button, it creates a new reminder task with an alarm that goes off 8 hours from that time. It's simple, but useful. Here's a screenshot of it in action, with the "Go Home" button on the far right of the toolbar, and a red rectangle in the "To-Do Bar" being the task sitting there, waiting to trigger its pop-up window alarm:

Go Home Outlook Function

Update, Wednesday 11:35 AM: Added in the missing code to actually trigger the reminder itself. Setting ReminderMinutesBeforeStart = 15 is not enough; you also need to set ReminderSet = True for the reminder to trigger.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Graupel is Weird

Strange April weather! It's like pellets of snow, which Wikipedia says may be graupel. Weird stuff.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

They Call Me Dandelion Bane

I got up this morning intent on being constructive. Being DEstructive isn't so far off. :)


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Eggly Eyes

Forrest is a good cook, and sometimes a silly one. :)


Monday, March 31, 2008

Orange Microsoft Crates

These are the intra-office moving crates Microsoft uses. They're not really all that intrinsically interesting; mostly I just wanted to test moblogging from my new phone. :)


Sunday, March 30, 2008


Forrest is up here visiting, looking for rental houses with me in anticipation of his moving up here in mid April. We looked at several houses, but there was only one that we were really happy with. So today we put in our applications and the deposit (oof). They haven't approved it yet, so it's still possible we won't get it, but we very probably will. Exciting! :)

You can wander over to Forrest's Flickr set of photos of the house to check out the house. It's in the Westlake neighborhood of Seattle — not as nice (or pricey) as Queen Anne up the hill, but still okay.

Update, Monday 11:10 AM: Omg, we got the house! That was some fast turnaround time on the landlord's part, and she's not even physically in the state at the moment. (Her daughter has been doing the legwork of actually showing us the house.) The move-in date is April 1st, ie tomorrow, so it sounds like as soon as we sign the lease we can start moving in. Wootles!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Skills of an Artist, er, Linguist

My manager stopped by just a minute ago. "I need help of a linguist," my manager says to me.

"Oh?" My manager speaks English as a second language; Russian is his native language. I figured it was related to that somehow.

He hands me a sticky note with "Gene" written on it. "Is English name?" he asks. "How do you pronounce it?"

I laugh and tell him it's /ʤiːn/, just like DNA-type genes.

He thanks me, commenting that if he's going to be calling this big-shot consultant, he'd better get his name right. I was glad to be service. :)

Gold star and a happy face to those who recognize what this post's title is referencing. :)


Monday, March 3, 2008

Motion Sick from Ball Chairs

I had read that using exercise balls as office chairs was supposedly good for your posture and core muscles — you're constantly making minute adjustments to stay balanced. I'd noticed some used (and unused) ball-cum-chairs in others' offices and was curious if they were all they were cracked up to be. So I asked my coworker Rachel if I could borrow hers. (She has one in her office but I've never seen her use it.) She said sure, so I brought the thing back to my office.

I'll admit, it was fun for a few minutes, bouncing around at my desk and generally feeling pretty silly. :) But as I settled down and started to just use it as a chair, I noticed that I was developing a headache. I was actually getting motion sick from the darn thing! My inner ear sure is picky — to the list that includes elevators and car acceleration, I can now add exercise balls. :(

Thus ended that short-lived experiment in alternative office furniture.

I later googled around about the benefits of ball chairs and found (surprise, surprise) that not everyone agrees.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Phone Banker Fee Refunded, FTW!

I check all my financial accounts through Yodlee pretty compulsively consistently, and tonight I noticed an odd $2 charge from "Phone Banker Call 01/30". Now, $2 is not a big deal, but not having any idea what the charge is does bother me, so I called up my bank to see if they had any more information on what the charge was.

The customer service rep told me that it was a fee from Wells Fargo itself, for speaking to a banker about something that the automated phone system could have handled. He listed off the types of services that count, and all of those things I do exclusively online. I hate the phone and avoid it wherever possible; simple things that the automated phone system could handle, I would just do online myself. I said as much, and added that I couldn't remember making any such phone call.

He very politely, and without any prompting on my part, offered to refund the fee. FTW! It's only $2, but I don't recall doing the thing they say they charged me for, so I'll have the fee refunded, thankyouverymuch. :)

If I had made such a phone call, I think I would have remembered if the banker had mentioned at the end, "Oh, and by the way, this call just cost you $2 in fees. Have a nice day." I don't recall ever knowing that such fees were possible. I assume that somewhere buried in the fine print of the Terms of Service it's been updated to say this fee exists, but overall it seems pretty shady and lame to me.

Some quick Googling shows that this fee isn't new after all. Blogger Toby Getsch wrote about this in 2006, and the Oakland Tribune in 2003. If Wells Fargo ATMs weren't everywhere, I would have dropped them several years ago... *sigh*


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

xkcd "Helping" Comic

The web comic xkcd is generally awesomely nerdy; self-described as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." It's usually very funny in a geeky way. But every now and then, it's pretty heavy, emotionally speaking.

I just wanted to share this comic. As someone who wants to "make" other people happy but knows that it's not really possible, this comic really touched a nerve with me. (And with others, too.)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

THE Lasagna

THE Lasagna

This is the lasagna. The lasagna to which all other lasagnas are compared... and found lacking. This is my mother's lasagna. It has ruined me for anything but this recipe; I no longer order lasagna in restaurants, despite liking lasagna, because I know I will be disappointed by the restaurant's poor imitation of my mother's lasagna. I recommend you never try any, lest you be forced to cook your own lasagna from scratch forever after.


Mochas Seduce My Wallet


As you can see, mochas (the bulk of my "café" purchases) are the bane of my wallet. On the one hand, I do enjoy them. I don't think that all spending is bad if you feel you get proportional pleasure out of it and there aren't cheaper options that are equally good.

So I enjoy my mochas while sitting in bookstore cafés... But I'm not sure I'm actually getting $80(!!) worth of pleasure out of them each month. That's like a mocha a day. What was I doing in August?? Two mochas a week seems more than sufficient for me, and that would only be $26 a month ($3.25 × 2 × 4). Huh. So I suppose I buy café foods along with my mocha far more often than I thought I did...

Like I said, I'm not against buying mochas and food per se, since I do enjoy the experience of consuming them while sitting in bookstore cafés. But I am against mindless, unconscious spending. I really wasn't very aware that the café purchases were adding up so fast, and sometimes I do just buy the mocha at the bookstore out of habit.

So. Hopefully I can keep track of "Have I had 2 mochas this week yet?" in my head from now on. :P


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Starting at Microsoft

Yesterday was my first day at Microsoft as a fulltime SDE (that's Software Design Engineer, if you don't know your Microsoft alphabet soup). The first day and a half is devoted to NEO: New Employee Orientation. Lots of videos and talking and going over the thick packets of information we were given.

I haven't been able to get in touch with my manager yet. I tried calling yesterday at the end of the day, but he didn't pick up and I just assumed he had gone home. No big deal. I called again today (during the lunch break in our orientaion, which I'm also using to write this post) and again he didn't pick up. This time I left a message, and in any case I'm heading over to his office after orientation. He will not evade me forever. :)

From chatting with my fellow new-hires, it's been nice to see that I'm not the only one who's really vague on what, exactly, I'll be doing on my team. :P But I should be finding that out later today, so it's all good.

Unfortunately, there are only two computers here with internet access for us to use during this hour-long break, and someone's just showed up to stand in line behind me, so I'd better go find some other way to pass the time. :)


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Way Too Much Beef Stew

Broth Added to Slow Cooker

The first recipe I decided to try out in my shiny new slow cooker was beef stew. I found the recipe in my cookbook, which said it was good for both medium and large slow cookers. Great! I thought, My slow cooker counts as "medium" for this book, so we're good to go!

Do you see where the flaw in this logic might be?

So if the amounts in the recipe are good for both a medium and large slow cooker, and my slow cooker is at the small end of this cookbook's "medium" scale... Yup, it made waaaaaay too much beef stew for my poor little medium slow cooker. Being the oblivious, inexperienced cook that I am, I didn't realize this fact until I'd already added the carrots and potatoes, cooked all the meat, and mixed in the celery and onion. Only when I went to scoop the meat mix into the slow cooker did I realize there was no way it would all fit and still leave the recommended 2-inch gap at the top.

So I pulled out all the carrots and potatoes, divided all the ingredients in two, and immediately refrigerated one half. I then refilled the slow cooker, this time with only half of the ingredients. Four hours later, I cooked up some rice and had a very yummy, very tender beef stew for dinner. :)

There still remains one problem, however. Just a half-batch is almost too much food for me. There is at least 4 more servings I can get out of my leftovers, and that's not counting the second batch that I'm cooking up now. Oi! I'm hoping I can give some of it to my local friends...

Update, 6:10 PM: Hey... couldn't I freeze the excess? What wonders of modern technology!


Friday, February 1, 2008

Photos of Oaxaca

Feed-subscribers, beware: I've updated my Oaxaca (December 2005) posts to include photos that I only uploaded after the fact. Now the blog posts from my Oaxaca trip are colorful and photography, but it does mean that the posts may pop up in your feedreader.

In less happy news, I seem to be missing a large chunk of the photos I took in Oaxaca. :( I have two hard drives that are inaccessible — the one in my old broken laptop, which may or may not even work, and the one in Jhorjhelle, the server staying at my parent's house that needs a new motherboard fan. I hope the photos are intact and will eventually become accessible again...


Moblog Test

Testing whether mobile blogging still works. I haven't tried it since the switch to the new Blogger.

Bah. Apparently Blogger no longer applies a moblog-specific template anymore. Hrm...


Compulsive Furniture-Moving Neighbors Upstairs

I'm convinced that my upstairs neighbors are some sort of compulsive furniture movers. Multiple times a week — and usually late in the evening — I hear loud dragging noises from the apartment above me. This isn't your typical annoying-neighbor squeaky springs problem. This is dragging heavy furniture around the apartment. Why do they do this?? There is never a need to rearrange your living space so frequently.

Update, 12:27 PM: Omg, it's so loud right now it's actually resonating. :(


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sacrilegious Sushi Dinner

Sacrilegious Sushi Dinner

I bought some sashimi-grade salmon from Uwajimaya, the giant Asian grocery store in the International District of Seattle. I trust their sashimi-grade fish more than I would, say, Safeway's. This is only 0.2 pounds of salmon, and was enough to leave me stuffed. (Only half of that is shown in the photo in this post. I kept the other half in the fridge until I was ready to eat it.)

I've heard that it's hard to make good sushi yourself, and I'm sure someone with real sushi chef training could have filleted this salmon better. But really, I just slid the knife along the "flakes" of the salmon and it practically fell apart on its own.

Then I got sacrilegious on its ass. ;) Normally, when I order sushi at a restaurant, I try to hide from the sushi chef as I cut my nigiri into 6–8 smaller, (my-)bite-size pieces. But after filleting the salmon, I realized that I might as well pre-cut the salmon into the bite-sized pieces I like. No sushi chef here to hide from in shame when I'm in my own apartment!

I'm not sure how you could have a more mutilated Japanese dinner experience. Let me count the ways:

  1. That's a huge bowl full of long grain rice (rather than Japanese short-grained extra-glutenous rice), moistened with seasoned rice vinegar and sugar (rather than proper sushi vinegar). Note that it's not in separate little rice pads for the salmon.
  2. Soy sauce with ground mustard instead of wasabi. (This substitution was suggested via a quick Google search. It worked surprisingly well, actually.)
  3. Salmon cut into tiny cubes, piled in a heap with absolutely zero presentation value.
  4. A fork for stabbing said cubes, and a spoon to shovel a bite of rice behind the salmon on the fork.
  5. Served on Western-style plates, not sushi plates.
  6. A glass of milk, something I'm sure isn't commonly served in a society of lactose-intolerants. (I appreciate my mutations!)
  7. A coffee mug for the tea (at least it is jasmine tea...). Said tea was brewed in a drip coffee maker.
  8. And Pocky and Hi-chew for dessert. Also not served in nice Japanese restaurants, although these are Japanese candies... :P

Not sure how I could have made this more sacrilegious and still resemble a sushi dinner. :) Regardless, I very much enjoyed my meal, which is really what counts when cooking for yourself, ne?


Homemade Bread

Baked Bread

In a fit of domesticity, I baked a loaf of white bread from scratch last night. I was inspired by Forrest, who made his own bread the night before. He kept interrupting himself on the phone to murmur about how tasty his bread was. I got jealous, so I baked up some of my own.

I followed S. John Ross's bread recipe, which is very simple but also explains some of the why of the ingredients and where you can modify the recipe for different results. That's the kind of recipe/instruction I like. :)

Basic Bread (small loaf)

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 rounded cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Dissolve sugar and salt in water in a large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Add butter.

Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Move to a floured bread board or countertop. By hand, continue adding flour until the dough is a smooth, homogeneous mass.

Set in a warm place (such as a warmed oven), covered, to rise for 45 minutes. Take out, punch down (using flour as necessary if it's become sticky), form into the desired loaf shape, then put back in the warm place, covered, to rise for another 45 minutes.

Bake in a non-preheated oven at 350 °ree;F for 30-45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, brush lightly with melted butter or olive oil, then let sit to cool for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 small loaf.

Source: S. John Ross.

I took photos as I went; you can check out each step on my Flickr page.

Midway through the first rising step, I called up Forrest and talked with him about what the consistency of the dough should be. He agreed that the bread was probably a little too dry. I took it out of the oven, added a tiny bit of water to it (maybe a tablespoon?), mixed it up until it was doughlike, then put it back to rise some more. This interruption of its rising step probably accounts for why it didn't double in size like it was supposed to the first time, but rose just fine when left alone for its second bout of 45 minutes.

Second Rise in the Oven, Minus an End

Okay... so I have a confession... As you can see evidenced in the photo here, I really like eating bread dough. Really like it. I'd been snacking on little bits of it as I kneaded it, but I wanted more after it was already nice and loaf-shaped. Well, this is my bread, so I can snatch off an end piece and make the loaf misshapen if I want to! :) This is why the finished bread isn't quite as symmetric at its two ends as you might expect.

Next, I'm thinking of making my own Auntie Anne's pretzels. Mmm...


Friday, January 25, 2008

Phantom Spill Sensation

About a week ago, I was drinking a cup of tea when I felt the tea spill onto my right hand. But when I jumped up to grab a towel, I realized that I hadn't actually spilled anything. It just felt like I had spilled tea on my hand. I thought it was strange, but shrugged and moved on.

Now, today (by which I mean Thursday) while I was shopping I felt the same sensation in my right foot. It felt exactly like there was warm liquid in my shoe, except there wasn't.

I posted on a forum an hour and a half ago asking if anyone else had experienced such a thing, and already 3 people have said they have. I'm asking here to get a different set of peoples looking at the question. Some no responses to balance the yes ones would be interesting. Even more interesting would be that everyone feels this sensation but never mentions it... but I doubt that's true.

So, my (admittedly small sample size of) blog readers! Have you ever felt a warm, wet sensation, like you've spilled something on yourself, only to discover there was nothing there? Post in the comments, email me, whatever.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bought Myself a Slow Cooker

While I was staying with my folks, my dad made some beef stew in his slow cooker. It reminded me that I'd always liked the idea of slow cookers, and now that I'm going to have a non-negligible commute, I'm going to feel even less like cooking than when I was 3 miles from work. But I could toss stuff in a slow cooker and eat it when I got home. :)

So I've got myself a 3-quart slow cooker — this Hamilton Beach one had good reviews compared to some of the others, but wasn't as pricey as the Crock Pot name brand. I'll wander down to B&N tomorrow and pick out a tasty-looking cookbook to go with it.

Hopefully I'll be able to find myself a brown-bag–friendly group at Microsoft to have lunch with, so I'm not wasting so much money on eating lunch out every day...


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Backdated Holiday and Vacation Posts

I'm a bad person; I didn't use any of my month and a half of vacation to blog. And now, looking back on all that I did, I don't want to type it all up at once. But I did take photos, so now the plan is to backdate small posts with the photos to remind me. Watch this space for backdated posts for December 2007 and January 2008. Because I'm a bad person. :)