The comedian’s a bear!

I’m so glad I don’t have to write jokes for a living.  There are many, many, many jobs I’m glad I don’t have – SO MANY – but having to be funny all the time?  For money?  SO MUCH PRESSURE.  Also, I’m not funny, so I would fail right away, assuming anyone hired me in the first place.  On the rare occasions where I AM funny, it’s accidental and cannot be repeated (and is usually because I messed up the punchline to someone else’s joke).  Crafting a joke, revising it and messing with the timing to make it funnier – that’s hard.  It’s fascinating, and I love to hear comedians and comedy writers talk about it, but I can’t imagine doing it myself and having the end result make people laugh.  Is that a skill you can learn?  Maybe?  Maybe I’ll add it to the long list of things I want to do.  At the bottom.  And in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy all the actual funny people out there.

Don’t bring me down

Let’s play a game:

Optimistic or Naive?

1. I ordered a t-shirt.  The tracking information indicates it’ll arrive by 8pm today.  Do I think it will?  Of course I do!

A. Optimistic?
B. Naive?

2. I ordered mouse pads from Amazon.  They’re being shipped by a company from China.  They never arrived.  I contacted the seller, and they responded immediately and said they would ship again.  Do I think I’ll get those mouse pads?  Of course I do!

A. Optimistic?
B. Naive?

3. I travel plenty.  For the most part, my plans take off and arrive on time, I don’t miss connections, and my luggage arrives with me.  Do I think that will continue to happen for me?  Sure I do!

A. Optimistic?
B. Naive?

4. Earlier this week, the forecast showed pretty constant rain through the end of Friday.  Today’s forecast shows rain today, but sunshine and a high of 60 degrees for tomorrow (Friday).

Do I  think the weather will be nice tomorrow?  Yes.  Yes, I do!

A. Optimistic?
B. Naive?

Licensed!

Congratulate me, everyone.  I finally have an actual Oregon license.  Except that I don’t.  I have a piece of paper that looks kind of like an actual Oregon license, and legally (or so I’ve been told), it IS an Oregon license, but I won’t get the real laminated license for a few weeks.  I’ll be nervous until I do.  It just doesn’t look legal.

On the plus side, I am finally registered to vote.  I’ll take care of this election – don’t you worry.

Useful! And productive!

I’VE GOT BLISTERS ON ME FING…palms.  The tops of my palms, right under the fingers.  Does that part of your hand have a name?  Doesn’t have the same ring to it, regardless.  I tried the rowing machine today.  Only 15 minutes, but I’ve got four blisters that hurt like hell.  I won’t be doing that again.

Today was a Thursday that felt like a Friday.  Disappointing to find it wasn’t, but at least tomorrow really is Friday and we have a three-day weekend!  Are we doing anything for the 4th of July?  Who knows?  It’s enough not to have to go to work.

Speaking of work, I actually did work that felt useful today.  Most days are all meetings and crisis management, and I never feel like I’m getting anywhere (which is why it’s so stressful).  Today, though, EVERYTHING was down.  All the websites we host, all of our test websites, our ticket tracking system, our phone system, our network – EVERYTHING – was down.  Everyone in the office was sent home because the office didn’t even have internet.  It came back up around 1pm, and everyone came back to work (and I went back to putting out fires), but in the hours between 10 and 1 (eastern) today, I researched and started to create a new writing test we’re going to use on job applicants.  I’m completely over the TERRIBLE grammar three-fifths of my team displays, and I won’t hire anyone else with bad writing skills slide because we weren’t on the lookout for it during the interview.  Everything my team does, all of our communication with our customers, is written.  It HAS to be good.

So anyway, it felt great to actually work on something that can be completed and put to use.  We’ll start with applicants for my team, but I think (because I think highly of myself) that HR will adopt it for the company hiring process.

Fixed!

Today, I fixed a website issue I hope you didn’t know was there.  A few weeks back, I noticed that if you try to get here, to www.inanechatter.net, via any search engine, you don’t get here.  By a wide margin.  Instead, you end up on some Russian pr0n site.  I hope this has never happened to any of you (I assume, if it had, that SOMEone would have said something to me) – oh, hold the phone.

(Searching my email.)

Well, crap.  Someone DID say something to me (although not about the pr0n issue, which might be why it didn’t register) back in December.  Hey, Tim and/or Beth – if you’re still out there, can you let me know if you’re still getting that message?

This redirect to pr0n thing didn’t happen to me all the time, and at first, I only noticed it on my phone, so I figured something was going on there, and I let it go.  The other day, I figured out it only happened when using a search engine, and I got it to happen on two different computers, so I knew I’d have to actually do something about it.

Anyway, today was the day I finally decided to try to fix it.  It only took three hours of searching Google and WordPress forums and trying to remember passwords to get into my GoDaddy hosting account and then changing database passwords and then bringing my whole site down because I didn’t put the new database password in a config file, so I had to ftp to my site’s files and fix it there –

I had to re-learn a ton of stuff about my website, and THEN I found two problems in two different files.  Both are fixed, so the weird text (about viagra) should be gone while the page is loading AND the redirect from search engines appears to be gone, and I AM A WIZARD.  I did this almost entirely BY MYSELF.  (I got John’s help when I was deleting a couple of rows out of my .htaccess file because Google was no help and I didn’t want to delete something actually important.)

I DID IT.

Wizard.

Yup, that's me.

Yup, that’s me.

Queen of the nerds

I have reopened a nerdy obsession of mine, totally by accident.  I was looking for another blog or website or SOMEthing online to get completely immersed in, so I went to Tor.com to scan their recent posts and found out that Leigh Butler is doing ANOTHER re-read of the Wheel of Time series.  !!!!  Yay!

I’ll pause so you can collect yourselves.

Actually, I’ll pause so you can roll your eyes and say “Who cares?”* and “What’s a re-read?”** and “Oh, THAT series?***  You finished it?***^  You still like it?***^^  NERD!***^^^”

Are you done?

Thanks.  I care, a little.  Enough.  Okay, I care plenty.  I started reading the series in 1990, maybe 1991 because I remember waiting for the third one to come out (1991, paperback 1992), which is basically right at the beginning (the first two were published in 1990).  I have reread those first three of this 15-book series too many times to count.  This is the first series I did that with, where I’d go back to the beginning and read every book out so far to prep for the next book to come out.  It’s the first series I waited for, with years in between books.  It’s the first series that made me go searching online for people who might know something about it.  It’s where I discovered the WOTFAQ sometime in college, where SO many people more obsessed than me gathered to chat and share theories.  I never joined them (they’d been doing it for years – what could I add?), but I read the ENTIRE thing and then went back after each book was published.  (I’m a lurker.  I’m a lurker on reddit, too.)  They all seemed to know each other, and some really did – they went to conventions together, or met there.  (Stories about JordanCon (and DragonCon) may have sparked my interest in going to conventions myself.)

Anyway, I care plenty.  In 2009, Leigh Butler (who was heavily involved in the WOTFAQ and the fandom and the conventions and met Robert Jordan and spent time with his widow after died) started a re-read of the entire series on Tor.com.

Re-read of a series online – she reads through the books and posts summaries and her thoughts and commentary on a chapter or two at a time, once or twice a week.  The commenters go nuts (in a fun way).

She thought she had 9 months before the last book of the series (written by Brandon Sanderson) was supposed to come out.  The last book was split into three, and what was supposed to be done by the end of 2009 took until May 2014.  I didn’t read along (my memory of these books is pretty good – I have read them many many times), and I didn’t start in 2009 when she did (I don’t remember when I found it), but I did read ALL of her posts and a lot of the comments, and it was a fun way to revisit the series and get a LOT out of it while waiting for the last books to be published.

ANYWAY.

I was poking along online yesterday, and I found that she’s doing it again.  Why?  Because when she did it the first time, the last books hadn’t been published, and the things that happened in those books shed a ton of light on things that happened in earlier books, and this fandom WANTS TO KNOW.  Including me.  So we’re all going back with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and I have another fun way to waste time online.

I love the internet.

*I do.

**I explained.  Be patient.

***Yes, THAT series.

***^Yes, more than once.

***^^Yes.

***^^^Yes. Stop yelling and JOIN US.

Birds are chirping, too

It’s SUCH a beautiful morning.  I can almost forgive the constant dreams about work last night and the 40-degree temperature outside overnight and the sub-60-degree temperature in the house this morning because we haven’t had the heat on for over a week and the 5:45am alarm and the 6am start-work time in a cold house and the 6:30am conference call with no caffeine in a cold house because NOW (breathe here) the sun is out and the sky is blue and the grass is green and there are leaves on the trees and a neighbor’s cat just traipsed through our backyard and the heat is on and I’m warm and I’m awake.

What does one do with a leprechaun?

Eugene has a real leprechaun.  I’m not kidding – I saw him yesterday.  He had a green top hat, a green shirt, a gray beard (medium length, not quite ZZ Top), and he was riding a green bicycle.  I couldn’t tell if he had a pot of gold, and then he got away from me.  He was on his bright green bike, and I was running.  Couldn’t keep up.  I’ll keep an eye out for him.

Oh, I know – he got away because I wasn’t wearing my shamrock necklace.  Damn.  Gotta plan my accessories better.

Self-inflicted

Remember how I stopped drinking caffeine because I was stressed out and I assumed (I think correctly) that caffeine was adding to the problem (or at least not helping)?  I did pretty well for a couple of months.  I drank only decaf tea or water or decaf coffee, and I was breathing easily, sleeping well, and feeling good.  In the few instances I slipped and had regular coffee, I could feel it immediately (and all day long, with the pressure on top of my lungs and inability to take a deep enough breath). I also found that I can’t have decaf Starbucks coffee at all, although it’s possible they messed up that day and didn’t actually make it decaf.  Anyway, since we moved to Oregon, I haven’t been able to find decaf tea that isn’t herbal (and I really just want my black tea, people), so I’ve been drinking regular English Breakfast tea and having the occasional chai latte.  It’s been going okay!  I haven’t noticed any ill effects, I haven’t felt especially stressed, and I hope this means I can slowly make my way back to normal coffee.

Of course, I say that, but it’s not 100% true.  Yesterday, I had the same type of tea I’ve had all week, but during my run, I spent a lot of time thinking about this whole caffeine and stress thing, and I started to feel it again.  Did I bring it on myself?  Am I okay as long as I’m not thinking about it?  How is that supposed to help me out?  Telling myself not to think about it is about as useful as telling Ray not to think about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  If I’m relying on NOT thinking about caffeine and stress to avoid feeling stressed, I might as well get used to a lifetime of having a toddler sit on my chest.

But hey, way to overthink it, girlie.  One day of mild stress after two months of almost zero physical signs of stress, when those two months included a stressful job and a cross-country move, is nothing to sneeze at.

Somewhat eventful

My outside time in Annapolis was interesting today.  Mildly interesting.  Could be considered interesting if you cock your head to the side and squint.

When I’m running and I come up even with someone who’s coming from the other direction, I acknowledge them.  Sometimes I smile, sometimes I wave, sometimes I nod or say good morning, but I always acknowledge them.  Seems rude not to.  And when I do something, I expect some kind of acknowledgement back.  It seems rude to ignore me.  It doesn’t have to be the same.  You don’t have to wave back if I wave. Just nod.  It’s fine.  It’s similar to getting the little wave from the drive of the car you just let turn in front of you or merge into your lane.

In Ashburn, maybe half the people I passed waved (or whatevered) back.  In Annapolis, it’s been better – maybe 75% acknowledge me back.  Most days.  There was one day, maybe last week, that I must have passed 20 runners and only THREE of them smiled back at me.  Bad day.

Today, I have no idea how many people I passed, but one of the very first was this woman running towards me, and she had the friendliest face.  Her smile was genuine and really nice, and I got the impression that she just really likes people.  It was nice and it helped.  I wish I could have told her that, but it would have been weird to turn around and chase after her.

Then I tripped over a traffic cone and almost fell into traffic.  Annapolis sidewalks are pretty narrow, and when the city puts up signs about parking or road closures, they block the whole width the sidewalk and go out into the street a little.  I was trying to go around it and stay near the traffic cones so I wouldn’t end up in traffic, but I guess I got too close.  And of course there were cars coming.  I didn’t fall (it was close), and my desperate arm-swinging shifted me back towards the sidewalk, so it all worked out.  The driver of the car I almost fell in front of probably thought I was having a seizure, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

Then later, I was driving down a narrow street with cars parked along one side and barely enough room for my car to fit, and a family was walking down the sidewalk toward me, and this woman was walking in the road.  Not partly on the curb and partly on the street, not near the curb, just IN the street.  She didn’t seem worried that I was driving her way and might hit her.  I mean, I didn’t, and I wouldn’t, but still.  Don’t walk in the street when there are cars driving AT you!

Anticipating an explosion

The car was COVERED in pollen this morning.  Yesterday, nothing.  Today, blanketed in yellow dust.  We weren’t even parked on the side of the street with the trees.  It’s a darn good thing I take allergy medicine all year long, but even so, I’m a little nervous.

Spring is here, and with it comes much discomfort.  And here I am, sitting in my apartment with EVERY window open.  I’m just asking for trouble.

Sidetracked

This afternoon, I got up from my desk in our front room and headed to the kitchen with the express purpose of checking our tomatoes to still if they’re still edible.  The kitchen is two rooms away.  As I walked through the room in between, I remembered that tomorrow is Thursday and immediately thought, “Yay Thursday!”  I started thinking about how much I like Thursdays.  They’re such nice days, announcing the upcoming weekend but without all the stress of trying to get ALL THE WORK done before the weekend (which is why I’m less in love with Fridays).  They’re friendly days, nonthreatening days.  I did a little Thursday happy dance (premature, but maybe I was practicing for tomorrow), and by the time I was done, I was through the kitchen and standing in our bedroom, with NO memory of why I’d gotten up in the first place.

It came back to me within a few seconds, and yes, the tomatoes are still edible (I know you were wondering), but DUDE.  Am I flaky?  Just old?

I’m not that important

Surprise!  Going to the office stresses me out.  It did today, at least.  I got in early (ten to 7), assumed I wouldn’t do much of the work I’d hoped to do (because that’s what happens when I’m in the office), tried to leave at 3pm, found myself swamped with things I’d be leaving half-done, and put my laptop to sleep at 3:45 hoping that all of the things I had open would still be there when I got home.

Luckily, they are all still there, but so are emails from people I can’t ignore.  So here it is, over 11 hours after I got to the actual office this morning, back on my work laptop feeling all anxious that I didn’t do some things.  I’m working on letting it go.  I replied to the people I can’t ignore.  Everything else that’s clamoring for my attention can be done first thing tomorrow.

I know this.  It’s not that important.  I’M not that important.  Nothing that needs to be done is a matter of life or death.

I’m repeating this.

I want to be able to relax tonight.

Ommmmmmmm…..

I HAVE to remember to take pictures

This morning, I saw a guy running across the bridge with his dog.  Not unusual.  His dog was carrying a stick.  Not unusual.  The stick was as long as I am tall, and the dog was carrying it sideways on a narrow sidewalk.  Unusual.  And hilarious.  And John was right in front of me and DIDN’T NOTICE.  He needs to look around more.

Later, I was walking back from coffee with Jess, and I noticed a guy smoking.  I mean, HE was smoking.  No, I mean, smoke was BILLOWING out of his mouth and hovering in a big white cloud behind him.  I’m sure there was a cigarette (or a giant torch) or something involved (there must have been, right?  He’s not a chimney.), but he was at the far end of the block and I couldn’t see it.  Just the smoke.  Coming out of his mouth.  Oh my god – he’s a dragon.  I missed my opportunity to meet a dragon!  Damn it.

Like sleeping on a cloud. We hope.

Our new mattress came today!  We tried out half the mattresses in the store yesterday afternoon, picked one, and it appeared in our apartment this morning!  Like magic.  For all I know, the delivery guys were special mattress gnomes whose sole purpose in life is to bring new soft mattresses to people who’ve been sleeping on the same cheap one for 15 years.  Maybe 15 years is what it takes to get delivery gnomes instead of muggles.  All I know is that I got in the shower around midmorning, and by the time I got out, our old mattress was gone and the new mattress was in its place.  I wonder if they bake bread or fix shoes.

This picture is more exciting to me than it is to you, I know.

This picture is more exciting to me than it is to you, I know.

Too quiet

I’m probably going to regret even thinking this, but this week has been quiet at work.  A little too quiet.  Like trouble is brewing somewhere, and it’s going to hit us hard soon.  Now that I’ve thought it, it’s probably going to come true.

That’s both pessimistic (in this particular case) and incredibly arrogant of me to believe that things will happen because I think them into being.  But you know, as far as I can tell, nothing is real if I don’t think of it.  You’re all constructs of my imagination, believed into being to keep me company.  The sandwich I had for lunch today (which was really good, by the way – hummus, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers) was imaginary, made for me by imaginary Potbelly employees.  I just had a conversation about my imaginary job with my imaginary coworker in my imaginary office.  Where am I, really?  What am I?  Who am I?

I just watched a YouTube video of a rabbit defending her babies from a very large snake (and winning).  That is not something I would have thought to imagine.  Existential crisis averted!  You may all consider yourselves real.

What’s to be nervous about now?

I got the go-ahead yesterday to tell my team about our plans.  FINALLY.  My boss, HR, the CEO, and the CFO are all being supportive.  (I haven’t spoken to the CEO and CFO, so I don’t know HOW supportive they are, but that’s irrelevant now.)  Yay!  So I wrote some notes yesterday, was nervous all morning, and met with Ben (my senior guy) just before lunch, where I blurted it all out with no regard for my notes.  Luckily, he understood what I was saying and doesn’t have any immediate concerns.  He’s the linchpin – where his mood goes, the team’s mood follows, so I need him to be positive about it, and he was!  Not over the moon, but why would he be?  I just need him to NOT think it’s a disaster.

So then I went to Wegmans to buy cupcakes so I can bribe the rest of the team into contentment when I tell them at our weekly meeting in….less than 90 minutes.   Updates to come.  Hopefully very boring updates.

Update: They’re fine!  They were outwardly supportive, at least, after they made sure I was NOT leaving them and they were NOT getting a new boss.  Which is sweet of them.

SO relieved.

Life is a stage

My run this morning was so great, it had to have been faked somehow.  I’m pretty sure I was on a movie set.  It was around 8:30 on a beautiful Saturday morning in spring.  The sky was clear and brilliantly blue and the sun was shining.  Everyone I passed answered my “Good morning!” or least waved or smiled back at me.  My running playlist (which is huge and on perpetual shuffle so I’m always surprised) skewed heavily toward Dean Martin with Three Dog Night’s “Let Me Serenade You” to bring me to the finish line.  The trees are still in bloom, and – I swear I’m not making this up – as I passed under a couple of cherry trees, a breeze picked up, and I ran through a cloud of tiny pink blossoms falling to the ground.  The only things missing were chirping cartoon bird.  I think I’ve seen this happen to Jennifer Garner.  Minus the cartoon birds.  I guess neither of us rate those.

Unreal.

Curbing my desire to squee

I mentioned the other day (last week?) that I loved Amy Bai’s Sword SO much that I emailed her to tell her about it.  (Seriously, I really REALLY liked it, and I’m really REALLY glad she’s working on the sequel.)  Then I started following her on Twitter (I follow a handful of authors I like on Twitter – they’re fun).  Then she emailed me back and was super nice.  (Or maybe she emailed me back and then I started following her on Twitter – can’t remember, doesn’t matter.)  AND THEN, she started following ME on Twitter.  I am not cool enough for this.  But I’m trying to act like I am.  🙂  No public squeals of delight. I’m pretty sure the neighbors didn’t hear me.

Luckily, Jess has upped her game on Twitter, and I’ve taken that as a dare to do the same.  Why be on Twitter if I’m not going to use it?  All I do is follow a bunch of people hoping to be amused.  Boring for anyone following me, including myself (not that there are many of those (which is okay)).  So let’s be less boring (at least to me and Jess).

Small dilemma: I was going to start tweeting about the books I’ve been reading that I’ve really liked, but having Amy Bai follow me on Twitter (have I mentioned that Amy Bai is following me on Twitter now?) makes me hesitate (because hers is one of the books I would tweet about).  Does it look self-serving?  Like, “Look at me!  I liked your book!  I’m telling the world, and it’s only coincidence that I didn’t tell the world until after you started following me and would see it (wink, wink)!”  Except that I told you guys before she was following me (but she doesn’t know that), and I told HER before she was following me (she’s following me!), and since I’ve already told you, why even tweet about it?  I don’t want to look like I’m sucking up or starved for attention.  Or a stalker.

Overthinking this?  Probably.

Definitely.  Authors are people who like other people for the same reasons everyone else does, and being nice to people is appreciated (usually) and my insecurities are having a field day.  Just relax already.

They can’t close it without telling us!

As we pulled into the parking lot of the gym this morning, we realized two things.  First, Doug’s car wasn’t there, and second, the lights were off inside.  Not a good sign.  We pull through our normal parking spot and saw Doug’s car across from us.  He came running over to the driver’s side window to tell us that the gym was closed.  “Closed closed?  Like, forever closed?”  “Yeah.”  “Well, that sucks.”  We’re not at all annoyed with Doug – it wasn’t his call.  But the owner, who has everyone’s email addresses, could have let us know.  That’s kind of obnoxious.  John and I could have gotten an extra hour and a half (or more!) of sleep this morning, if only we’d known.  It was nice of Doug to show up to tell us.  The other location (our M/W/F class location) is still open, so Doug gave us the owner’s number so we could petition to have Doug teach there Tuesdays and Thursdays instead.  Which I promptly did.  Well, not promptly, but same day.  I called early afternoon and talked to him.  He said he’d work on it.  I’m hopeful.

Update: I got a text from Doug (because he has our info NOW) – he’s lined up to teach at the other location now, Tuesdays and Thursdays, same time.  Yay!  I’m not taking credit for that.  I have a very high opinion of myself, it’s true, but I’m fairly certain one phone call from me can’t save someone’s job.  If I have that kind of power, I should probably be more careful.