Saturday, September 30, 2006

it's official: I'm a sewer

No. Not a sewer sewer. A sew-er sewer, as in one who sews.

It all started six months ago, when I couldn't find the curtains I wanted. I already had a valance on the window behind my kitchen sink. I wanted to add another short curtain, to cover the bottom half of the window. Like these curtains. Except without any obnoxious patterns or flowers.

The only curtains I could find that matched the valance were much too long. I bought them anyway, and then started looking for a 56" black tension rod to hang them with. It had to be a black curtan rod, because the valance was hanging on a black curtain rod, and as I had picked out tab-top curtains, the curtain rod was very visible. And it had to be a tension rod, because I did not want to install any more hardware.

Guess what no one makes. Black tension rods. I had my choice of white or brass. I picked up a white one for a couple of bucks at Target, just so I could hang the curtains up to have some privacy. At their too-long length, the tension rod was hidden behind the valance, so I figured it would do.

I also picked up a sewing machine. That's right, I purchased a $100 sewing machine to alter my $30 Target curtains.

And then I hung up the too-long curtains, and promptly forgot about my quest for a black tension rod, and my desire to shorten the curtains.

Until two weeks ago, when I found myself at Bed Bath and Beyond, and found a black tension rod. In the bath hardware department. Because shower curtain rods come in more colors than regular curtain tension rods. It was perfect, as the valance curtain rod is of a shower-curtain-rod diameter. I hadn't thought of it before because I didn't realize that shower curtain rods got that much shorter than a bathtub length. Apparently, though, they are expandable from 41 to 72 inches. Who knew?

And so, today, I took down my curtains and hemmed them. I called on all my sewing experience (a pair of shorts when I was 9, and I'm pretty sure my mom did half the sewing). I chopped a foot off the bottom of the curtains, ironed a new hem, and pinned it in place. I pulled the sewing machine out of the closet and made myself a bobbin. On my first try! I threaded the thread all through the machine - luckily for me, there's directions for that written on my machine. After 3 tries, I got the bobbin in the machine. (Ok, ok, all you non-sewers, that part really is tricky!). I did a couple of practice runs on the cut-off curtain parts, to remember how to sew a straight line, and to figure out what length stitch matched the original stitch the closest. Not that anyone would know, seeing as I hacked off the original hem, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time. And then I sewed my curtains.

My stitching isn't perfect. There are parts that don't lay quite flat. If I ever wash the curtains, I imagine there will be some puckering due to imprecise ironing, pinning, and stitching. But it's good enough for me. No one who visits my house will ever inspect my curtains that closely. And I know that I will never wash my curtains.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ampersands are the debil

Ampersands are out to get me this week. That's right, the cute little &. He seems so harmless ... and yet he is wreaking havoc on all my tools. At quitting time, nonetheless.

Tuesday, 3 p.m. (Yes, that's quitting time. I get in at 7. Really!) I get a frantic IM from one of my users, the transfer app isn't working. Now, we have this transfer app because we have no less than 7 networks. (Ok, ok, so maybe it's only 4.) So, this transfer app moves a file from one network to a different network. I only worked on the first part of the transfer process, but it's the first part that the customer sees, so that means I get the frantic IMs. Plus, I'm way more approachable than your average developer, so I get frantic IMs for tools that aren't even mine. Because, honestly, if you have a choice between adorableness or cranky-pants magoo, you're gonna go with adorableness. Even if you know adorableness may very well refer you to cranky-pants.

But, anyway, the transfer app stopped working. I'll spare the details, but it turns out that transferring a file that contains an ampersand in the filename causes the whole tranfer app to just quit working. A DOS, if you will, for all the nerds out there. I haven't fixed the issue yet, I just told the user to avoid ampersandy filenames for the next week or two. Seeing as it's been 5 months and this is the first ampersandy filename any of the users have tried to transfer, I'm not *too* worried it'll happen again before I fix it.

Thursday, 3 p.m. IM from another developer, one of our web apps can't display search results from certain criteria. I started digging through log files, and I discovered the problem: ampersands. The search results end up in xml, that is xslt-ed into html - and ampersands aren't allowed in such things. So I patched that up, and proceeded on my merry way. Luckily, that particular web app is in a permanent beta state, which means that we, as developers, don't guarantee that it will run without kinks. Or even that it will always be available. But, I fixed it in 28 minutes, because that's the kind of dedication to my customers that I have. Or maybe it just really bothers me when someone finds a bug in one of my tools. Either way, it's fixed.

Ampersands. are. the. debil.

airport socks

I was at Target the other day, and had the sudden need to purchase new socks. After perusing the sock aisle, I finally settled on a 3-pack of socks: one white pair, one white-with-green-and-blue-stripes pair, and one NEON GREEN pair.

I'm not normally in the habit of wearing neon green socks, but the price on the 3-pack was right, and the striped pair really are rather cute. And so I now own a pair of neon green socks.

I took a cross-country trip last week, via plane. Which meant that I had to go to the airport. Which meant that I had to go through airport security. Which meant that I had to take my shoes off. Which meant that I had the perfect opportunity to wear my neon green socks.

I hate taking my shoes off at the airport. It's a hassle, the floor's always dirty, and then there's nowhere to sit down after you get through the metal detector so you end up walking while juggling your open backback, laptop, purse, belt, shoes and boarding pass until you can find a seat.

And so I decided that I would wear my neon green socks to the airport. So people would look at me and think: "That girl is wearing neon socks." Or: "Wonder if she knew she had to take her shoes off." Or: "How embarrassing." And also, as a quiet (as if neon could be quiet ...) protest to removing my shoes at the airport.

Friday, August 04, 2006

vitamin water

I just discovered the best thing ever! Vitamin water is the most amusing way I've ever experienced to get my vitamins.

It used to be that getting my vitamins meant one of three things: Eating a healthy, balanced diet, that contained a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; swallowing a horse pill shortly before or after consuming a large meal to avoid queasiness; or, chewing up a barney, dino and wilma.

Eating a balanced diet is a smart practice that will undoubtedly add years to my life, but it is not fun. In fact, it's a lot of work, especially when there is cheesecake in my fridge. And ice cream in my freezer. And m&ms in my cupboard. And a husband who only eats pop tarts and cheeseburgers in my basement.

Swallowing a horse pill makes me gag. As does the ensuing queasiness. Every few years, I buy myself a bottle of vitamins in an effort to be 'healthy' without giving up cheesecake. Or ice cream. Or m&ms. Or my husband. But, undoubtedly, I only last a few days, and I eventually throw out the vitamins when I can't remember when I bought them. Because surely that must mean they are too old to still be effective. Besides, they are just a reminder of my failure to be 'healthy'.

Eating a handful of children's vitamins is mildly amusing. As are the questions I get at the checkout line about my children. (Note: I have no children.) For real, it happens when all you're buying is captain crunch, lunchables and corn dogs.

But vitamin water is, by far, the funniest way I've ever gotten my vitamins. First off, it's fruit flavored water with vitamins in it! Who ever would have come up with that idea? Secondly, the packaging is really something else. It's reminiscent of a generic brand, with no pictures, only text. And there is a LOT of text. Telling me it's ok to eat a double bacon cheeseburger and fries, as long as I wash it down with vitamin water. And that the potassium and B vitamins will get me energized. And that the inside is natural and the outside is plastic.

So, here's to a 'healthy' diet. :-)

Friday, June 16, 2006

afternoon djs

I really don't like my afternoon DJs. They have annoying voices, they are obnoxious, they say dumb things, and everytime I hear them speak I wish they'd hurry up and put another song on already. I may have thought that the bad-DJ phenomenon was coincidental, but I have 4 radio stations, and they all have bad afternoon DJs.

My morning DJs are nice. They have pleasant voices. They are funny. They talk about interesting and amusing things. In short, they make my drive to work a little more enjoyable.

So why does it all fall apart in the afternoon? I would think that radio stations would want to put their best and brightest on the air during commute times, as that is when they get the most listenership. Either good DJs are hard to find, or radio stations don't value my patronage. Which is a-ok with me, my iPod never lets me down.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

ode to the tostadita

My husband has to hear me complain about how I can't get my tostadita at baja fresh anymore at least once a month, so I thought I'd commit my complaint to the written word.

My love of the tostadita stems from the fact that, though I am a grown adult, I cannot eat adult-sized portions. I cannot eat a 1200 calorie meal in one sitting. I just don't have it in me. Don't get me wrong, over the course of a day, I can put away close to 3000 calories (I don't do that EVERY day, mom, don't worry). I just can't do it in one sitting.

And so comes my abuse of children's menus in fast food restaurants everywhere. Happy meals, Adventure meals, you name, I've eaten it. And thus, I discovered the tostadita at baja fresh.

The tostadita (from the children's menu, of course) was a small flour tortilla shell (deep-fried, just the way nature intended) with a scoop of beans (black or pinto), a scoop of rice, a scoop of steak (or chicken), a scoop of pico de gallo, and a sprinkling of cheese. I loved the tostadita. I loved it every time I went to baja fresh. But, apparently I was the only person on the planet who ever ordered it, because they removed it from their children's menu.

And now, I must eat the tostada. Or, rather, I must spend 7.89 to eat half the tostada and throw the other half away (you can't save a deep-fried tortilla). The tostado, however, is filled with lettuce - and guacamole, no matter how much I ask them to not put that green squishiness on it - and is most decidedly missing rice. It's not quite the same as my beloved tostadita - but perhaps it's time I graduated to grown-up food.

the 9 to 5 is killing me

I'm not the kind of person who can do the same thing every day. I thrive on schedule variation. I loved college, with classes scattered throughout the week, with time to use for studying, labs, homework, apartment cleaning and shopping, to do at my discretion, and at my whim. Plus, the schedule changed every 4 months.

I've been slogging through this daily 9 to 5 for 4 years now, and it's wearing me down. Vacations help, but then it's right back into that same old same old.

I have a great job with flexible hours, and I think that helps me cope. I get paid monthly, so I just have to make sure I get my hours worked within the month. On my timecard, I work anywhere from 0 to 11 hours in a day. Today, for example, I was there for an hour. And then I left. I'm sure people think I must be sick or something, but the truth is, I was completely unmotivated to do anything on my at-work todo list. Which is a shame, because there really are a lot of things I'm supposed to be working on. Due to the fact that I'm the 'last man standing', as it were, we've had 3 developers leave in the last 6 months. And they've been replaced with one. Who is awesome, but he's still coming up to speed, and they're trying to preserve his sanity by letting him focus on one project. As opposed to, say, 8. (Oh, I wish I were exaggerating...)

I am not a lazy person. In fact, I just wrote out a todo list of what I'm going to do with my random day off, and I will be hard pressed to accomplish it. Especially if I keep getting distracted by things, like, oh, blogging. Here is what I hope to get done today: Laundry (2 or 3 loads), possibly some ironing (I really hate ironing, so I probably won't do it), change the kitty litter, take tortellini for a walk and give her a bath, put away the camp gear (this involves cleaning a lot of it first), dishes (you'd be amazed at how many dirty dishes 2 people can generate, all 32 of our forks are dirty), straighten up the living room and kitchen (the two rooms on the main floor, once they are clean, the house is clean enough for guests), change the sheets (oh, that will make another load of laundry), clean the floors, and dig up a bush stump or 3. Before I can do the laundry or dig up the bushes, however, I will need to buy dryer sheets and a root cutting tool. Which means 2 stores, and seeing as I am incapable of just walking into a store and purchasing the one necessary item, I will have to allot an hour or two for shopping. Because I love wandering through stores. Even Home Depot...

I have to go back to the 9 to 5 tomorrow. But as for right now - I have some laundry to do.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

fame and fortune

Alas, blogging has not brought me the fame I had hoped it would. I had high hopes of being discovered as an up-and-coming writer, and getting a book deal. Or, perhaps, a paying writing gig such as the folks at Television Without Pity get.

But, here it is, two months later and no one has discovered me. The only people that read my blog are people I harass into reading it. (That would be my family and my friends, I haven't yet resorted to passing out the URL to people at the grocery store. Though, that *might* expand my reader-base...)

I had grand plans to quit my day job, publish new york times best sellers from time to time, and to travel the world. Then, I could write a new york times best seller about traveling the world! Who wouldn't want to read that?

My husband tells me I need to have a large collection of articles for potential publishers to read, before I can get famous. So here's one more article for the pile o' discovery.

Friday, June 09, 2006

high school reunions

Next year will be the 10-year mark for my husband's high school graduation, and the year after will be mine. I really don't have much interest in going to mine (I'd much rather spend the vacation time doing something ... fun), but my husband wants to go to his. Mostly so he can show all the losers he graduated with that he makes twice as much money as they do. And that he married someone outside his gene pool.

He grew up in a small Texas town, of 2500 people. And, apparently, small towns have a tendency to inbreed. And, also, a tendency to make anyone not part of the 'in' group feel very much 'out' - which is the catalyst for my husband wanting to go to his reunion.

The problem with attending his reunion, however, is that no one may bother to plan it. I don't know how many high school classes forego reunions, but it seems to me that entrusting 4 people to plan events 10, 20, 30, and 40 years in the future would mean that a lot of those events just don't happen. Things that were important in high school, really hold no importance 10 years later. And sometimes, people die. You may not know this, but dead people really throw terrible parties.

Even if the blessed event does get planned, my husband fears that he may not be invited. For one, he doesn't live even live in Texas anymore. Also, his family has relocated to Houston, and his mother has remarried and has a different last name. All of these things will make it difficult to track my husband down. For another thing, the senior class president hated my husband, and, in fact, had a small group of close associates. My husband thinks it highly likely that the event will be a small affair, comprised of people who still live nearby (many in their parent's basements), with invitation passed by word of mouth.

Me, I'm hoping the thing doesn't happen. My husband and I both have a limited number of vacation days, and I'd really like to see Scotland next summer. Or Disney World. Or maybe a cruise...