Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

It installed yesterday when I upgraded to Internet Explorer 7.  It ran.  So far, I haven't noticed that it maliciously removed any of my software, but I'm going to keep my eyes open...
With all the talent at Microsoft, don't you think they could have hired someone to create an unambiguous name?

Monday, December 18, 2006

gubmuh. hab.

A week until Christmas. Seven shopping days if you run out now and buy something today. A little snow fell overnight, with more promised tonight, although it doesn't look right for it at the moment. The trees are up (Yes, that is plural. Not a typo. Our monster big artificial tree that works like an umbrella lost a limb two years ago, and I thought it would be a good idea to replace it with two smaller trees, so we could spread cheer more broadly through the house). The cards are mailed. We're down to a handful of presents to purchase, and just a little wrapping to do. All of the cosmic forces are aligning at just the right time.

And it all feels like an afterthought this year. I'm just not all that into it.

My husband is probably grateful for this. Most years, I dive into the season with enthusiasm right around Thanksgiving, and play the Christmas-music station on the radio until it drives him mad (I do mute the Christmas Shoes song, though). I drag him and the rest of the family off to events like TUBAChristmas and the Messiah sing-along, and try to organize an all-girls outing to the Nutcracker. I bake cookies that have butter as their primary ingredient. About mid-December, I start resenting the fact that we're all out spending money like idiots, buying the extra-deluxe George Foreman grill for people that received the deluxe model from us a year ago, and my attitude becomes so "bah-humbug" that Ebenezer Scrooge would weep with envy.

I usually recover right around Christmas Eve, and the Christmas Spirit stays with me until, during the Christmas Eve candlelight service, the idiot minister tries to make the Christmas story more relevant to today's audience by making one or more of the Magi a woman. I haven't got up and walked out yet, but one of these years...

So what's different? I hope it's not our upcoming cruise, because I don't want to be stuck taking a traditional winter cruise every year either. I know I should not be whining about this. I know that there are women everywhere who would gladly trade places with me and embark for the Mexican Riviera a week from Saturday. And when I can divorce it from the season, I do find myself looking forward to it - we have a mini-suite with a balcony and a bathtub and welcome-aboard champagne and maybe even bathrobes. But Christmas season is for being cold and going skiing, and finding out if I can still ice-skate backwards even a little! It's not for "learn to scuba" shore excursions and sunbathing and practicing one's Spanish ("No, gracias." "No, gracias." although I'm sure there's more to it than that.), and having "seaweed wrap rebalancing chakra treatments" at the spa.

Although, when I think about doing New Year's Eve on a ship, wearing a strapless black dress (Isaac Mizrahi - gotta love Target!!!) and bright red spike heels, that seems just about perfectly matched to the season.

Maybe that will be my big holiday for this year. Should auld acquaintance be..."

Or not.

Maybe next year.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

For the record, putting your foot in a bucket of ice water really, really hurts.  Really, really, really hurts.
About 3 weeks ago, I was walking down the hall at the office, and my right foot felt like a joint needed popping.  So I stood up on tiptoe and put all my weight on it, hoping that would rearrange the bones or tendons or whatever was a little out of whack.  Instead, whatever it was that was slightly annoying became rather painful - I spent the rest of that day and part of the next limping around.  And on that next day, I had the fatheaded idea that wearing clogs would make my foot feel better - because they would make it less necessary to bend the foot while walking.  Totally did not work - and on the way to the bus that evening, I twisted the same ankle falling sideways off the clogs (they're the kind with the rubber soles and the backs, and the soles are about 2" high).
From then until very recently, I was able to walk around fairly well, but with some pain.  If I were off my foot for a while (like, for instance, driving cross-country for Thanksgiving), it felt pretty good, but reverted to painful if I had to walk any distance at all.  So once we got home after our minor holiday odyssey, I took my foot to a massage therapist to see if he could find the original issue and rub it until it went away.  And he may have actually done that - but he also thought that what I had was a ligament problem and that I should ice part of my foot, or if I couldn't stand that, alternate 5 minutes of ice with 10 minutes of heat.
I did try, but the painful bit was on the top of my foot, and keeping a plastic bag of ice balanced in the right place made me sit sideways - and that made my knee hurt.  So I thought I'd be clever, and I filled a large pan with water and ice, and proceeded to put my foot in it, figuring that total immersion would include the painful area.
Only I can't keep my foot in ice water for 5 minutes.  I think my record might be 12 seconds.  Dip foot, grit teeth, breathe heavily, cross eyes, swear under breath, remove foot.  Wait for the aching to subside and repeat.  I spent the better part of last Sunday afternoon giving this performance for my family - and they did think it was pretty funny.  After the aching wouldn't subside anymore, I gave up, and finished up the afternoon alternating between heat and not so much heat.
It does seem to have worked, though.  After wearing the same, very comfortable shoes every day except Friday last week, I noticed that it no longer hurts to walk.  And that the swelling has gone away, along with the bruise just forward of my anklebone.  And today, I took the RICE cure to new heights (literallly) - I encased the entire foot and ankle in a tight ski boot and made several runs at over 10,000 feet on a cold day.  Okay, so maybe I missed the Rest bit - but I nailed the other three elements.  And my foot feels just fine - especially compared with my quads, which are wondering what they did to make me be so mean to them.
Tylenol PM for me tonight, I think.  And I'm NOT climbing into a bathtub full of ice water.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thomas, we are NOT buying clothing for the cat!

"and besides, that's a dog sweater"
Just something I overheard at Target the other night, and felt compelled to share.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

...like Home for the Holidays

We spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family this year. Two day drive there, two days hanging out overeating, two day drive back. Gotta love it. Now that I've been to the massage therapist to get my neck back to normal, it seems in retrospect to have been an interesting visit. And I did not kiss my desk when I got to work last Monday, I just said that I had.

I really like most of my in-laws, and generally look forward to spending time with them. All but one of them, that is. I refer to her as the Sister-In-Law from Hell. Although we are cordial to one another, she is generally able to put me completely off balance within 5 minutes of any encounter. I wish I could put my finger on why - it's actually a subject I end up spending way too much time thinking about (it's a long trip back from my mother-in-law's house, and we don't fly, and one has to do something to make Kansas go by quickly).

Here's an example of our interaction. A few years ago, we missed a train connection in Chicago and had to spend Christmas Eve there. Since it was a holiday, we decided to skip the Amtrak vouchers for the Quality Inn and stay at the Palmer House hotel instead, to make the stop more of an occasion than an annoyance. (It worked, too - we had such a good time that we're planning an on-purpose trip to Chicago one of these days. What a cool city!) When we arrived at our final destination, a day late, we were raving to all present about the Palmer House and how wonderful it was and how much we'd liked staying there overnight.

"Oh yes," she said dismissively. "It's really cheap; that's why they hold a lot of conferences there."

Now, I don't know if you've ever set foot in the lobby of the Palmer House, but if you have, you may understand why my first reaction to it was not "Wow! This is really cheap!" Try "omigod-will-you-look-at-that-ceiling!". But I digress. The net effect of her response was to shut us up completely on the subject. Maybe she intended to do that, or maybe she just has the social instincts of one of those glow-in-the-dark sea creatures that live in the Marianas Trench.

We spend family occasions where she is present in a sort of weird competition - one in which we never agreed to participate, and to which we don't know the rules. Anything we have done, anything we are doing, anything we are tentatively planning to do, she or her family has done better-faster-smarter-first. She once arrived before we did at an out of town event where both families had reservations at the same hotel. Not content with checking herself in, she checked us in, inspected our room, adjusted the air conditioning, pronounced everything satisfactory, and when we arrived told us step by step what she had done.

I also get the impression that she makes assumptions about my opinions on various things, and then caters to those assumed opinions. Her assumptions are invariably wrong, but they leave me feeling kind of inadequate because I'm not maintaining the high standard to which she is catering. Again, an example is germane: Quite a while back, she offered to take our daughter on a camping trip. Which was fine with me, although, as I recall, the trip never materialized. But while making the offer, she was incredibly anxious to assure me that the adults on the trip would not be drinking while any children present were awake.


I'm fairly sure that, up to that point, we had never discussed whether I cared if my daughter saw adults imbibing adult beverages - in fact, the two of us had probably had a glass of wine in my daughter's presence before that conversation. And to the best of my knowledge, she and her husband are responsible adults, so I wasn't exactly anticipating some sort of drunken orgy on the trip at all. So where did that come from? Did she normally drink to excess on camping trips? Did she think that I normally did? The whole conversation left me feeling like maybe I was a bad mother for NOT worrying about drunken orgies in my daughter's presence. Once again, I was rendered speechless - I couldn't figure out how to tell her that I wasn't concerned about such a thing without making myself sound uncaring or making her sound overly anal.

My husband thinks that I intimidate her. God knows why - I'm just an average working stiff with a husband and a kid. It's probably fairly obvious that I'm a bit stressed in her presence, so maybe she picks up on that. And I guess all those fullstops in the conversation come off as a bit peculiar (is "buh-buh-buh" an intimidating thing to say? That's as much as I can manage sometimes).

This Thanksgiving, we really didn't see much of her, but she was in her usual form. I made the incautious statement at dinner that I intended to be buried in my Mini Cooper. Oops. Now the whole family knows that she and her husband just finished looking at a used Mini Cooper, that was in just simply pristine conditon - it was obvious that the owner had taken very good care of it and it was only two years old, after all - but that they just couldn't quite bring themselves to spend $20K on a vehicle without ridding themselves of one of the two they already had.

What do you say in response to that? In my case, I think it was something like, "pass the pie".

It's good to be home.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh, The Weather Outside...

It's raining snow today.  I don't know how else to describe it - and the storm started last night with lightning and thunder, so it seems pretty consistent.  The "flakes" (drops?) are coming in, wet and sloppy, at about a 45-degree angle.  The first day I'm really regretting having taken the bus; the fronts of my pantlegs were soaked walking to the office from the bus station, and my hair - well, maybe that's a subject best left alone.  I haven't looked in a mirror yet, and am hoping to postpone the big reveal as long as I possibly can.
The radio was predicting a blizzard yesterday, and it appears for once that they got it right.  In town, it's not so bad, but I think the major interstates are closing down a few miles out in all directions.  My husband got back yesterday from Tennessee, and just in time, it appears.  I think his plans for the day involve firelogs and afghans and naps - the dogs were rather boisterous overnight and neither of us got much sleep. 
This is the third snowstorm we've had in October and we still have a week of it left.  But with any luck, the snow we've had so far will count enough that it will be reasonably nice on Halloween.  My daughter, whose birthday that is, would be very grateful to celebrate a birthday without long underwear or frostbite warnings.  I'm glad to say that she made it safely to school; considerate soul, she called both home and my office to let us know that she'd arrived.  Days like this, I'm not as thrilled that she has her driver's license, although on days like this, I'm very thrilled that we spent a small fortune on defensive driving school.
Needless to say, the California Zephyr is late.  It's coming in over the northeastern plains, through the towns where all the schools are closed for the day.  It'll be interesting to see how badly something like this delays it.  Apart from the missed deadlines, as long as the heaters are working, I think it might be nice to be chugging across the frozen landscape in a blizzard, able to watch it and knowing that I'd get there eventually.
Work is very quiet so far; everything outside is moving very slowly, so I imagine the day will not really get going for another couple of hours.  Even in a stationary building, it's pretty cozy to sit in the warmth of central heating and watch it come down - until I start thinking about the commute home...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A-hooey, a-hooey

Bloody frustrating week so far, and it’s not even halfway done.  Work has been nothing but firefighting (although I think we’re about 85% contained at last), home has been a lot of choppy, unplanned last-minute errands punctuated by sleepless nights for various reasons (in which the family pets figure large), and no matter what my intellect and reason tell me I should be eating, I’ve been heading for the Twix bars.  Just not good all around.


My office of the moment is a well-lit cube up against the windows, and I have a sort of mixed-bag view.  I can watch construction on some new condo buildings with all-glass exterior walls (during daylight, at least, you can’t see in from where I sit, but at night?  Do they cater to exhibitionists, do you think?).  I can see some of the Front Range and watch weather fronts come in over the northwest bits.  I can watch coal trains pull into a siding, and I directly overlook the Amtrak platform at Union Station.  Every morning at some point (it’s not always on time), the California Zephyr makes a stop here enroute from Chicago to the Bay Area.  It backs in and stops for about ½ hour as the passengers get out and stretch their legs, new ones get on and old ones leave, and the window washers clean the windows for a better view of the scenery to come.  Eventually, the conductors close the doors, the whistle blows, and it slowly pulls out.


Every morning, if I’m anywhere near my desk for all of this, I stop and watch.  And every morning, the temptation is strong to grab my stuff and jump on board.  It wouldn’t be for very long – overnight to California, a short stop there, and then overnight back – they’d hardly even miss me. 


So far, I’ve resisted the temptation, but this week, I don’t know. 

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Turtles from now on

We have four furry animals living at our house - that I know of, at least.  Two dogs and two cats.  And during the daylight hours, I love them all - they're each a little quirky, entertaining, and generally fond of the people in my family.
It's at night that they all become slightly possessed, or something.  I do manage to sleep through some of it, so I haven't been able to track down the cause.  First, the dogs.  As I said, we have two of them: Anneke and Roscoe.  Anneke is a 3-1/2 year old Jack-Russell-and-something.  She's starting to settle down and behave like a grown up most of the time, but at night, she really likes to sleep with the people, no matter how comfortable a dog bed we contrive.  And the house is starting to fill up with dog beds that don't quite meet with her approval, I might add.  Anyway, not only does she like to sleep with the people, she prefers to be under the covers.  Part of the night, that is.  She gets cold (she is a short-haired dog) and dives in, sleeps for a couple of hours, gets too hot, and emerges.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I might add that on the too-cold cycle, she generally noses me in the back to raise the blankets enou gh for her to crawl under.  It's effective; her nose is very cold.
Roscoe is not quite 2.  In many dogs, that would be an adult age.  In a Lab-Whippet mix, it appears to be the equivalent of a toddler.  And across most of the night, he's actually well-behaved.  He likes the dog beds, and will curl up in them until about 4 am most nights.  After 4, however, he starts to wander the house.  He rises, shakes his head (flap-flap-flap-flap), and trots out of the bedroom door toward the kitchen (click-click-click-click-click).  According to my daughter, he shows up at her closed door and scratches to be let in.  She's been resisting this lately, so eventually he gives up and heads back to our end of the house (click-click-click-click) and jumps on the bed.  He's up and he wants to play.  Cute, really, all but for the timing.  And his aim - the jumps inevitably land on some organ inadequately protected by my skeleton.
So much for the dogs.  The cats really are a little less obtrusive at night, although they pack a wallop when they concentrate on it.  Muffin, who is a long-haired gray cat, spends the nights jumping up on our headboard from my side of the bed, sitting there for an indeterminate period, then jumping down on my husband's side.  Normally I can sleep through this.  Occasionally, though, she does one of two things: launches her jump from my actual face, rather than from the mattress; or falls off, nearly always onto me.  Not good - she generally draws blood in either case.
Two, our second cat (hence the name), is an old lady, and was feral for a while before deciding on the soft life and moving in with a friend who couldn't keep her.  She appears to retain a fond memory of the taste of field mouse.  Caught one in the house the other day (our house is about 50 years old and our yard is just uphill from a farm field).  Left it in the hallway near the kitchen, where on Saturday morning, I encountered it with a bare foot.
It's at moments like these that I would gladly trade them all for a pet rock.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lasik and Surrealism

(this is a test, but maybe I'll keep it)
I think it might be time to get my eyes checked.  I had Lasik about 6 years ago, and while my vision is still immeasurably better than before I had it, I am starting to suspect that it might not be quite as perfect as I need it to be.
A couple of examples, both from my commute home yesterday afternoon.  First, I was standing at the bus stop when a woman pulled up and parked a Subaru station-wagon-like thing where the bus normally arrives. (No, this isn't quite a Mr. Magoo story; I did NOT get on the station wagon expecting to get home).  As I watched her, she took an object of some sort from her carseated toddler in the back of the station wagon, messed with it a bit, and handed it back.  I'm sure it wasn't really a latex glove full of bees, but that's what it looked like to me.  I mean, that would violate all the principles of good parenting - the child might break the glove and choke on it, and bees are sharp objects - at least at one end.
She eventually pulled out and my bus arrived and I got on.  I was settling my stuff on the seat and glanced over the shoulder of the woman in the seat ahead of me to see what she was reading.  The title on the top of the open page said "The Sextons of Cavendish," and my initial reaction was that I would enjoy reading it myself - it sounded Victorian, possibly with clergy involved - something Trollope would have written.  Then she moved a bit and I caught a glimpse of the front cover, and I could read the title (in much larger type): "The Sex-lives of Cannibals".
I think I'll give the eye doctor a call - if this keeps up, I'm going to get myself in trouble.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Omigod, she's not dead after all!

Don't even start - I know it's been forever, give or take. Nothing like a job with no internet connectivity to slow down the creative juices. Well, that's all done with now - I started missing my cellphone, of all things, and went back to the business world. Phew! Not that I have time to blog these days - no more working from home, and I've turned to the dark side - gave up coding and became a manager. And I actually really like it. Chemical brain imbalance, no doubt.

So, in the last year and a half, we acquired a second dog, and the daughter turned 16 and began driving herself to her extra-curricular activities. Oh, Lord, is that all that happened in that time? I don't think it can be true, but nothing else comes to mind.

I painted the master bedroom blue a while back - well, most of it. Ever try to move a king-sized bed? And the roller handle just wasn't quite long enough to reach all the way behind the headboard. Which would be fine, except that the headboard is a sort of arch connected to the bedframe by spindles. In other words, the lack of blue is sadly visible on that wall. One of these days, we'll get a crew of volunteers, and move the bed long enough to finish the job. Although by then, we'll probably be trying out a different wall color. I'm not exactly overfond of the blue.

Dull post, I know, but I'll try to make it a little more interesting next time - and it won't be another 17 months before that happens.