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.


Moan moan moan, bitch bitch bitch.  I just scrapped two paragraphs of complaining about not being able to run.  You can thank me later.

Instead, I’ll treat you to a few minutes of the nonsense that lives in my brain.  Fun.

Ready?  Here we go.

“Shake Your Groove Thing” is the last thing I heard before I got out of the car today, so I’ll be randomly shouting “yeah, yeah” for the next several days.  I know I’m supposed to think of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert when I hear it, but I always go to That 70s Show first, then Drew Carey, then Priscilla.  [Edited to point out that those are links to YouTube videos (fun), not IMDB (boring).]  I’m sure that means something about pop culture, and probably isn’t a positive for me, but since I end up with all three, I’ll call it a win.  I don’t like how Priscilla is spelled.  Makes me think of cilia and pisces, and I get stuck with uncomfortable images of slimy sea creatures with lots of legs or maybe tentacles.  Unpleasant.  I would never name someone Priscilla.  What kind of a nickname would she have?  Prissy?  Awful.  Silly, but spelled Scilly?  Or Cilly?  Please no.  And if she spelled it Scilly and wrote it down that way, she’d get called “Skilly”.  No matter what version of her name she used with people who know her, she’d become one of those people who gives a fake name like Jane or Carol at restaurants and coffee shops because people never say or spell her name right.  True story: I once gave my name as Alice at the IHOP in Ashburn.  I figured that was an easy one.  Easy to say, easy to spell.*  I glanced down at the list and saw that the hostess had spelled it “Alys”.  Can’t win.  And the problem with fake names is remembering which one you used.  You can miss your table (or your coffee) that way.  Hasn’t happened to me yet, but I usually take the even easier way out and make John give his name for us.  Works every time.

And scene.

*No exaggeration: I typed “slepp” instead of “spell” three times before I got it right.

Bad timing

I got a cute sundress at Target yesterday, but I want more than one cute sundress.  More than one more cute sundress.  My one chore for the day was to bike over to Trader Joe’s to pick up dinner while John was rehearsing at Will’s house, so I figured I’d do it after I finished my long bike ride for the day.  It made sense at the time, but I didn’t think ahead to how much I don’t want to still be on a bike after that many miles.  Still, Trader Joe’s is only a mile from the house, and what’s two more miles at that point?


Trader Joe’s shares a parking lot with Old Navy, so I figured since I was there anyway and not in any particular hurry, I’d check out their sundresses.  They have the added benefit of being super-cheap.  It wasn’t until I took my helmet off and noticed how gross and sweaty my hair was that I thought about how gross and sweaty my whole body was.  So….maybe shopping for and trying on clothes wasn’t the best idea.  I cruised through anyway, just looking.  I’ll have to go back.

Then I was disappointed by Trader Joe’s (they don’t have fresh, non-frozen salmon!).  I couldn’t face biking to yet another store, so I called John and he picked up KFC on his way home.  I can live with that.


Well, that didn’t last long.  I have deactivated my Facebook account.  Oh, you didn’t know I had one?  That’s because, once again, I didn’t use it.  I signed up to get the Messenger app so I could keep up with band chatter.  That is no longer a thing I do, so I scrapped the account.  I responded to one or two comments (seriously, no more than three, I think), liked two things, maybe? and used the Messenger app.  A family friend of John’s had to comment on my profile picture because it was the only thing I posted.

So yeah, that’s over.  I’m okay with it.

Let the sun shine

It’s 7:15am*, I’ve been awake for an hour (I slept in today!), working for 45 minutes, and it’s bearable because the view out my window is all green trees against blue sky.

I woke up just before 4am, to a train I might not have heard if I weren’t waking up from a disconcertingly realistic dream about having to sing the national anthem by myself, with a sore throat, as part of a class.  (Even in my dream, I didn’t start it in a low enough key.  The national anthem is hard.)  I went last, and when I was done, the classroom was empty.  I decided not to be insulted.  When I checked other classrooms for people, doors were slammed in my face because the people inside were all Navy people doing highly classified work.

I’m pretty sure the Navy part is what jolted me awake.  If the Navy shows up, I’m in for anxiety dreams.  Usually, though, I find myself back in the Navy after years away, with no idea what I’m supposed to do or how to do it.  Glad I woke up before it got rolling.

Maybe I should have been anxious about singing “The Star Spangled Banner” by myself.

*Well, it was 7:15.  Now it’s 9:20, work has happened, a meeting was scheduled, and I don’t get to have lunch with Christina.  BOO WORK.  We were going to have Indian.  Or Thai.  Something spicy, anyway.

Inspiration, or lack of it

Some days I have ideas, some days I don’t.  Today I had something half-baked about feeling inspired by Neil deGrasse Tyson to read The Martian and Saturn Run, both realistic science in space stories, and something even less than half-baked about not caring much about Spiderman because I couldn’t think of the name of the editor who’s always demanding pictures of Spiderman.

None of that is really anything, and that probably means I should just keep quiet for a day, but hey – I have to live inside my head.  I might as well share some of it with you, even if it is less than thrilling.  Heh.  As if anything I write is thrilling.

John liked The Martian, I’m enjoying it right now, and Saturn Run was really good (thanks, Erik!).  And….that’s all I got.


I ride my bike through the park three or four times a week, and I see a lot of people doing a lot of different things, but it wasn’t until I noticed someone sitting on a bench reading a book that I realized I almost never see people reading in the park.  They walk, ride, run, play with dogs, play catch, throw a frisbee, have a picnic, take a nap, swim in the river, fish in the river, play on the playground…but no one reads.

So one day, someone was sitting on a bench, reading a book, and it caught my eye because it was unusual.  A few minutes later, I passed another someone sitting on a bench, reading.  A few minutes after that, I passed a third person sitting on a bench reading a book.

That’s when I got suspicious.  People (other than me) don’t read in this park.  Clearly, these are plants, spies set to report on my workouts.

As if to confirm my suspicions, after I noticed them and realized what was actually going on, there weren’t any more.  For the entire rest of my ride that day, there weren’t any more people sitting on benches reading books.  I haven’t seen a single other person sitting on a bench reading a book during one of my bike rides since then.

I’m on to them.  And they know it.

Why, yes, I am still listening to Welcome to Night Vale.

Still not good at it

It’s been six years (SIX YEARS) since my last post like this.  Back in May 2010, I was in Boston for work, and I tried my hand at selfies.  I was using an actual camera, not a phone, and it didn’t have a forward-facing camera, and it was hard.  See attempts here.

Now, six years later, selfies are more of a thing than ever, I have a front-facing camera, and I still can’t do it (god, I’m old).  All I was trying to do last Saturday was take pictures of pretty scenery with my smiling face in front.  (Yes, I could have asked John to take the pictures.  NOT THE POINT.)  How do people do this?

IMG_20160618_091125 IMG_20160618_091129 IMG_20160618_091141 IMG_20160618_091122 IMG_20160618_113629 IMG_20160618_113634 IMG_20160618_182903 IMG_20160618_182905 IMG_20160618_184536 IMG_20160618_184550 IMG_20160618_184556 IMG_20160618_184601 IMG_20160618_202844 IMG_20160618_202850 IMG_20160618_202851 IMG_20160618_202853

Okay, a couple were semi-successful.  Here’s one from today with RAINBOWS.


And hair in my face.  And no smiling.


John got up in the middle of the night last night, and while he was up, I noticed in my half-asleep haze that I could see flashing blue and red lights.  I got up to look out the window just as John peeked through the blinds and shouted.


That’s the house across the street from us ON FIRE.  Its whole second story was in flames.  The flashing lights we noticed were from the fire engines parked on our street, whose sirens we somehow slept through.  It was 1:30am.


We watched from our kitchen.  The neighbors watched from our sidewalk.


The fire was out by 2am, and we went back to bed.  This morning, the poor house looks so sad.



As far as we know, no one was hurt.  No one was even there.  A new addition was being added to the second floor, and no one is living there during the construction.  The news (very short article) says a heater may have caused the fire.

I don’t need this kind of excitement.

Our Big Day Out: A Photo Essay

We did make it to the coast, and we did have a wonderfully pleasant day, and with the sun out, temps in the mid-60s felt great.


We did what usually works out for us: hit the road with a general destination (or at least direction) in mind, and then just see what we see.  You know?  It worked out pretty well.  Our first stop was at the Sea Lion Cave, a place we didn’t know even existed until we noticed it on our handy road atlas.  (Our cell service was pretty much non-existent all day, so we relied on good old-fashioned maps.)


Apparently, this is where the Stellar sea lions live.  Off to one side was a path to the elevator that takes you down 20 stories to the actual cave (fall and winter home of the sea lions).  Way over in the distance is the Heceta Lighthouse.  We’ll visit that some other trip.


A similar path in the other direction took us to the lookout where we could see the rocks where about 150 sea lions were sunning or playing in the surf.


It’s breeding season, and the male sea lions were shouting about it.  Lots of roaring.  They’re a noisy bunch.

We headed further north after that, stopping in Newport for a late lunch and a little browsing.  Newport has a pretty harbor, but it’s a working port and the harborside factories or whatever where they deal with the raw fish and crabs smelled AWFUL.


Looks nice, smells bad.  But they had a friendly California sea lion willing to pose for his fans.


After that, we found a mostly empty beach and read for about 3 hours.





Sunset sent us home.


Field trip

Today (Saturday), we are off to the coast.  I think.  We’re certainly going to head in that direction, and then we’ll see what we see.  We decided to make a day of it instead of a weekend because it’s not going to get over 60 degrees, and that is not what I consider beach weather.  If we make it to the coast (and I believe we will), maybe we’ll pretend we’re posh New Englanders who roam the beach in oversize cable knit sweaters and Dockers rolled above our ankles. Except for the oversize cable knit sweaters and the Dockers rolled above our ankles.

By the time you read this, we’ll have already gone to wherever we’re going.  How mysterious.  How vague and always true.  Unless you’re standing over my shoulder reading it as I type.  But even then, you’re behind me, I’m ahead of you, you’re in my past, and I’m wherever it is I was going to go.

I’ve been listening to Welcome to Night Vale almost every day.  It may be influencing my thoughts.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Rock Star Astrophysicist

We saw Neil deGrasse Tyson last night at the Hult Center, where he gave a talk called “An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies”, and it was great.  He’s a funny guy, and he treats his audience like the intelligent geeks we all are (seriously – we were surrounded by our people).  If you ever get a chance to go see him, I say go.

It was a night out for us, so we got semi-dressed up, went out to dinner at the nicest restaurant within 4 blocks of our house (Oregon Electric Station, which used to be a train station, and is pretty darn nice, actually), and then walked the one additional block to the Hult Center.

Then we climbed four stories to our seats in the upper balcony.


No nosebleeds, but I was afraid to lean forward.  The screen for his presentation was GIANT, which is a good thing because I couldn’t see him at all.  He was a blur – my eyesight sucks.  Although maybe everyone would have a problem seeing details at that distance.

Still, it was a good time, lots of laughter, lots of funny (and well-handled) heckler moments.  His books are now on my To Read list (where they should have been before).

Nature removed

There are men in our yard.

That could sound sinister.  Isn’t.  But they have chainsaws and shovels!  Oooh, and an ax (axe?).  Our neighbors hired people to remove the mess of trees and thorns and weeds that acted as a barrier between our yards, so all of a sudden we can see into their yard (and they can see into ours).  It’s temporary, or so the not-scary men told me the other day.  They’re going to put in a retaining wall with a fence on top of it so we’ll get our privacy back, it’ll look nicer, and I won’t have to get in there and get stabbed by thorns anymore.  Heh, “anymore”.  I’ve been too afraid of the thorns to even attempt it once.

Aaand the chainsaw-wielding guy just did a circuit of our backyard.  That’s unexpected.  I’d make sure the back door is locked, but I’m pretty sure his chainsaw could cut through it.

Tune in tomorrow to see if we survived the afternoon!

Soggy routine

I get up, work, go for a long bike ride.  While I’m out, I get rained on, and I see a wild animal.  Today, it poured for seven miles, and I saw a fox.

This is my life now.

I miss running, not least because I didn’t feel I had to do it for an hour and a half to burn any calories.  You’re less likely to get rained on if you’re not out for 90 minutes.  I need to join that gym.  I’ll get a pool, weights, classes, no rain, and no wildlife.  And eventually, I’ll be able to run again.


It’s Tuesday.  We’ve been done with work for an hour or so.  Neither of us has moved from our desks, but at least we’re not working.  We should go for a bike ride, but the weather has been unreliable today.  It has rained for a bit at least once an hour all day long.  And it’s chilly.  Chilly rain – no, thank you.  We could go for a walk, but we have the same weather problem.  We should go to the grocery store, but we’ve managed to convince ourselves it can wait.  We have a frozen pizza in the fridge – dinner.  I’m meeting Christina for lunch tomorrow – I can bring something home for John.  Tomorrow night, we have plans and we can get dinner while we’re out.  Thursday night, we have better plans, and we’re actually planning a nice dinner out.  Friday – well, hopefully we’ll be on the coast somewhere for the weekend, and that means we don’t have to worry about groceries until next week.

Surely we can muddle through breakfast and lunch the rest of the week on the granola bars, oatmeal, bread, and eggs we’ve got in the house.  Laziness is motivating, even if it sounds like an oxymoron.

Now, I have a headache, so I’m going to read.  Stop making so much noise, please.

Too close

I saw a raccoon on my bike ride, right in the middle of the highly-traveled, well-populated park.  It was the middle of the afternoon, not dark, not all that overcast, and in the spot where I saw it, there were half a dozen people running, walking, and biking in both directions on the path RIGHT NEXT TO THE RACCOON.  There was also a guy on a bench nearby watching it.  I sent him a “Was that really a raccoon?” incredulous look, and he gave me a “Seems to be.  What can you do?” shrug in return.  I know Eugene is in the Pacific Northwest, and by definition, that makes it closer to nature than anywhere else I’ve lived, but I think today’s encounter (fine, “encounter”) took it a step too far.

The raccoon was in the grass between the sidewalk and the trees (with the river on the other side of the trees), and it was barely in the grass – less than a foot from the sidewalk, I think.  It was HUGE – bigger than Roxy, smaller than Riley – and it had its front paws on the ground and its back arched like a cartoon cat.  Really big head.  I didn’t have much time to think about it, but if I’d been any further away when I saw it, I might not have ridden by it so close.  I whizzed by with no more than 3 feet in between us, I think.  It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to be nervous.

Fact: raccoons don’t look so cute when they’re that big and that close.

I did it!

Goal met!  Two books finished as of 6pm today.  I can never complain about that kind of weekend, not that I complain about weekends much anyway.  I’m more likely to whine about having to work tomorrow, but lucky for you, I’ve already done my whining about that for the evening.  Instead, we’re finally ready to start the Peter Capaldi seasons of Doctor Who.  The first episode with a new Doctor is always jarring.  I’m bracing myself for change.

Conflicting interests

We went to the library yesterday, and I came home with five books.  My plan for the weekend was/is to get through two of them before work Monday morning.  I’m 80% of the way through the first one, and if we weren’t heading to Cottage Grove tonight for games with Will and Christina, I’d probably get 20% through the second one before bed.  Damn fun times with friends trying to sabotage my reading goals!