So many words, so little time....

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Crawling back out from under the rock...

Unfortunately, we've been under a rock here for the last several days. Allergies -> summer cold -> sinusitis -> MsZilla sitting around honking like a goose into tissues waiting for anti-biotics to do their job.

I'm slowing dragging out of the mire, and have great and glorious plans for this evening on all fronts. Stay Tuned!

To keep you occupied today, I added a link to MetaFilter to the Links Bank. How cool is that!

Friday, July 25, 2003

Girls Night In

Both gentleman of my household have found somewhere else to "hang" or "kick it" or whatever they call sleep-overs these days. This is a rare thing. It's just us girls tonight.

It's kind of an odd dynamic. They are out here on the big TV playing Kingdom Hearts and Read My Lips at the same time. This might explain why Anselm keeps handing their backside back to them, but I don't say that. It's interesting to see the different dynamic between their playing and the guys playing. The guys are all braggadocio, flailing around and thrashing through. With the girls, it's all about who does what and how they do it. Unfortunately most games are designed by and for guys, so guess which strategy is more successful. The "girls" games we've tried are so insipid they annoy even them - there's no point in using a computer for that when they can go do it together with their friends. They'll figure it out. I've been coaching them on the care and feeding of RPG characters, and they've really improved. I'm not sure if this is an important life skill in this day and age or not.

I dusted off my copy of "God's Debris" by Scott Adams. Well, you can't dust off an e-book, but you get the idea. Still an interesting exercise. I don't know if I believe all that mental maneuvering, but it does make for some good cerebral gymnastics if only to debunk it. Which from what I understand is kind of the point.

I just discovered that there is a real town called "Poughkeepsie". Holy cow. Mark another one off the "towns I thought were scriptwriter's creativity" list. What is the weirdest town name you know that is real?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Paper boats and little trains....

ZillaJr was just bit with the car bug this evening. Before this, we've talked about it, but no real action was taken. Today he calls me at work to inform me that he just washed our old car and checked all the fluids, and now he wants to jumpstart it. I was not amused and told him to wait until I got home and he should go find some of the tools skateZilla has lost in their room in the meantime. I came home to see just his back half sticking out from under the hood and he and two of his buddies pointing at stuff with that glee they used to reserve for cool bugs they found. He was covered in that black dirty grease from the outside of the engine topped off with a blissful smile of pure happiness on his face. I've seen the signs before. Lord help me.

grrlZilla and bookZilla have taken to primping to go to bed. I'm serious. I caught bookZilla coming out of the bathroom about ten minutes ago made up to the nines. We're talking prom-level makeup and serious hair. I asked her why, and she just fixed me with that haughty teenage "you'll never understand" look and mumbled she was going to bed. How did I end up with two makeup drenched clothes-horses?

skateZilla is spending the rest of the week with an old friend who is going to be moving to another state, so things are really quiet around here. It's interesting how the dynamic changes when just one of them is gone. Any one of them seems to change things until they are almost unrecognizable.

They are all growing up. I see signs of it every day. I am so scared for them and so proud all at the same time. Just like Jackie Paper, those paper boats and little trains are making room for other toys. I'm not sure what I'm going to do - slowly slip into my cave?

I added The Grand List of Science Fiction Cliches to the links bank. Funny in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, and a great reference for those deus ex machina plots that writers always seem to fall into.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Pumpkin-time for this Cinderella....

Well, I just had some news that totally took the wind right out of my sails. It's silly of me to feel this way - I've never met this person face to face, but it still hurts all the same.

I finished the fifth Harry Potter book (by dint of sneaking it out from under bookZilla's lax fingers in the middle of the night). I have two copies, but I couldn't get either one of them to let go during daylight hours, and plus I have this pesky job-thing to deal with. It was interesting, to say the least. I want to read it again when I'm not punch-drunk from sleep-deprivation and see if it comes off differently. I can say that there is no way you get everything the first time through this one. I've already had a couple of inadvertent back-tracks due to the girls loosing my spot and I know that I picked up things I missed going through them the first time.

At any rate, I'm gonna go and step into a phonebooth and put on my sane human being costume and see if I can't get some sleep.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Parent, Know thyself....

The best things in life aren't free, they just don't cost money. That is something a lot of people don't understand. Usually, they cost you time. Kids teach us these things just by being around. The best thing about them isn't being able to buy them things or take them places, but just being there and being with them. Getting to know them as people and getting them the things that really make them happy. If you take the time to notice, you might just be surprised.

I see so many parents who don't know what is going on in their children's lives. This usually shows up the worst when one of mine is invited to one of their kid's birthday parties. I ask the parents "What would X like?" Time and again I run into parents don't even know what he wants for his birthday, or what kind of music their kids listen to.

As they get older, the kids don't help much, I'm afraid. As they are in the process of separating themselves into "me" and "not me", and as part of that whole process they have a vested interest in keeping you away from some aspects of their life.

There are ways to keep things together, though. In my case, I have found that all it takes is even more time. Time to listen to their music, to watch those obnoxious movies full of explosions and silly posturing that they love so much, to pick up a game controller and play the games they are spending so much time thrashing through, to read the books the school is forcing them to read, to have them show you that move they just perfected at the skatepark.

And then the time to talk about them. Nothing overly-planned, nothing too much, nothing forced, just have a conversation. Like you would have over coffee with a friend. I have had lots of luck with asking them to explain what the heck "x" new word means. With a tiny bit of genuine encouragement, most of them will rattle on forever if they are teaching you something. They love to have it proved that they know more than you about something.

Of course, if it has been a while, you have a tougher row to hoe. Start small. You might want to just let them "catch you" reading your own copy of the book, or watching the film. Just be sure you aren't invading their space in the process - if it is their game console and not family property, make sure you ask first. But carry on with it, and follow through.

Really try it out and be honest with yourself. You don't have to like it all. I have had to listen so some fairly heavy angry-young-man music, and having never been angry, young, or male, it can feel like torture sometimes. If I like maybe one song off each CD, I feel like it is a win. Mine actually like the fact that I don't like some parts of it because it helps them feel that when I say I like something I really do. If you really can't stand it, there are plenty of other things out there you can try instead.

Then once you have found something you actually like about it, ask them their opinion on it. Be prepared to be rebuffed pretty hard, but keep at it. If you are genuinely interested, it will come through. They may never say it out loud. You may get treated to the best performance of studied indifference you have ever seen, you may get condescending answers, and they may talk about you behind your back to their friends in the most disparaging way. But they do notice, and it does matter a great deal. That is why you need to find something you like enough to do this even in the face of their studied disdain, and carry on anyways.

I have been lucky. I stumbled upon the above advice when mine were very little, and for whatever reason I have been able to keep a connection. I have always liked games, so I have chosen to keep up with that the most, and in fact I write reviews for an online gaming magazine now, and GM one of their roleplaying groups. They are used to it. Now that they are teens, they don't think it is so weird that I can hold my own in the games they play (and beat them in some), or that I have heard of these Linkin Park guys and can discuss their music and even like one (and only one) of their songs, or that I know what a melon grab is when I see it.

Their friends think its weird, though. And I think that is sad.
I love the smell of erasers in the morning...

The oddysee has begun. I was grocery shopping this evening and we ran into the very first kiosk of school supplies for the year. grrlZilla let out this sort of tortured wail, and I have stood there and chuckled quite evilly for several moments. Yesssss......

I know that gloating is unseemly, so I do try to keep it where they can't see it. But here in the depths of summer, when all seems to be a barren wasteland of broken curfews and drifts of huge sneakers in my foyer, I have to keep my eyes on the prize. This too shall pass. One day not too far off, all these persons from Porlock will be picked up in the morning and trundle off to their appointed rounds instead of holding a mock UN meeting in front of my house every day.

In the spirit of keeping that firmly in mind, I have added a countdown timer to the first day of school in our school district to this site.

I also added a DVD review to movZilla. Still trying to get Tomb Raider up to snuff; I have finished it. Trying to go through it again and see if repetition helps. I think longingly of X2: Wolverine's Revenge now. Those days seem halycon compared to the torture that is the control system in this thing. I'll keep the rest for later.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Some people believe...

in the mythology of Sleep. Others in that whole Free Time thing.

I believe in the mythology of testing (or QA for short). Not only that, but I am proseletizing here at my place of work, and have converted most of the rest of the development staff to the faith. The rites of the faith require masses of hardware and copies of every browser known to man. The rites of the faith are distinguished by an ancient process of trying stuff out before you make other people deal with it.

Quote of the Day

Actually, I need a little help on this one. I remember the quote, but I cannot place an attribution anywhere! I am in possession of this really cool thought and I don't know if I can use it! It is maddening.

"The tears of the weak are meaningless, but the tears of the strong can change the world."

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Bit by bit....

I've done a lot of work on this site this last few days, but you really can't see it. And it's a good thing. It will show up as some ease-of-use improvements that will help make this site a bit easier to read and to move between it and it's sisters. I have some more improvements coming. That's how you do things on the World Wide Wait; one little bit at a time.

(I'm sorry, but the pun was intended. I'm so tired I don't think I have two dendrites on speaking terms at this point, and in this state that was almost witty.)

Lethargic Lad is still MIA, so I've found an understudy. is a flash animation of a green space monkey. Interesting little story. I'll be watching as the episodes are posted - this one contains a reference to Starbucks. Percolationist that I am, I've just gotta see where this is going.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Archive Trolling

I have a lot of works that I have written in various other places. I'm gonna gather a bunch of this stuff here, sort of as a "best of" thing. This was originally posted on Slate as an answer to a question from someone from Alaska who wanted to talk to me about it. The whole thread can be found here.


Yes, I remember...

I'm not an Alaska Native, but I was lucky enough to be born and raised there. I got the best of both worlds. I spent half my life in the Interior, and the other half in south-central.

I have played in a runoff waterfall right next to the highway and watched reckless windsurfers dare the tide-rip in Turnagin Arm as the Winnebagos lumbered by and the mountains seemed to laugh at all of us in the sun. I have stood on the shoulders of Denali itself, leaning on an ice axe and I have watched the sun rise over the rest of the Range, that clear pink light chasing away the sharp-edged shadows and leaving the peaks stained rose and gold. I have stood at the edge of the world and looked out over the pack ice and wondered if Santa really does live out there.

I have watched bears fish and people fish and sometimes watched the fish get their own back. Having a large halibut in a small boat is my working definition of a bull in a china shop. I have pulled rainbow flashing sheets of smelt and struggling nets of salmon out of the river, and then jockeyed with the rest of the children to try and avoid the incredible amount of work it is to deal with them once you do. I too have walked the beach looking for dimples, and then dug frantically at the clinging gray mud racing a razor clam. I have watched the sun rise over the Flats when we camped down by the river so we could fish before the tourists get up.

I have felt the sea slap the sides of my kayak as a pod of curious orcas came to see what we were doing nancing around on top of their world. I can still feel the slick wet-neoprene feel of the black skin sliding under my hand as I caught myself on its back when it bumped me and the solemn realization that 30 tons is a hell of a lot bigger in real life than in the abstract. Particularly when it winks at you (I swear it did!).

I have sat on the floor next to a glowing oil-barrel stove in that one-leg out half-lotus with the old ones, watching their flashing needles and beads make beauty, and mine struggle to follow. I have run with the dogs and raced snowmachines with my Gramma. I got 13 rabbits on my trap line one day, and I was so proud. I have ridden 150 miles on frozen roads "into town" to go grocery shopping and to buy my prom dress.

I know the crash and hustle of the rink. The scent of a hand-me-down hockey helmet and the leather of the glove. The weight of big stick in my left hand and the gear digging into my shoulder and not being able to wipe away that drip of sweat freezing on the inside of the helmet because I can't raise my mask in the middle of the game. The endless laps under the lights and the lashing whistle of the coach. The endless laps at night on the lake under the stars when no one is around, feeling the grooves cut into the ice from the kids playing and the pick up game you and your buddies played after practice and the most wonderful sort of peace descending.

I know the racket and vibration from chainsaws, and the way your hand keeps tingling for a minute even when you put the saw down. I have stood back and watched it fall, and then went in to dismember the fallen and load it into the truck. The sharp piny scent of broken branches competes with the curiously sweet, burnt scent of two-cycle oil as you walk to the next one.

I could go on, but I had better not. Duty calls here Outside. And you are right, even here, these people and places are with me. I can stand here in this muddled gray morning and have these things in my heart and be the better for it.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Big Doings Over at Chez MsZilla

Three may be a crowd in some circles, but a couple of friends of mine and I think it is just fine. MsZilla has developed a couple of partner blogs.

Actually, they are just my blatherings, separated by topic. Turns out I usually talk about games, movies, or dreck. So, we have MomGamer, who will be handling all game related stuff, movZilla for film-related madness, and MsZilla for the random stuff that defies categorization. Bear with me while I get this stuff all integrated and get all the content I have out there.

I have more links coming, too. I'm having way too much fun with this.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


The kids were watching "The Cutting Edge" for some adolescent reason I'm not going to try to fathom tonight. I have to admit to liking this film, if only for the sheer improbabiliy of watching them try to convince people that a hockey player can turn into a world-class championship figure-skater in something like six months. Heck, it's hard enough to convince people that an actor can stand up on skates.

Actually, I also have a soft spot for the characters. Moira Kelly is the classic fragile frozen-queen type, and her bewildered expression as he turns her ordered little life on it's backside really sells her character. D.B. Sweeney's take on hockey players was interesting, but in real life he would have spent most of his time on the road doing laps around the gym mummified in atheletic tape shouting "Chilly Willy is my hero!". My favorite line is when her boyfriend says, "I don't like to see her upset," in his own unique attempt at being British and Doug answers, "I'd invest in blindfolds." Roy Dotrice is one of the best character actors out there, and he gets his Russian thing on with a certain glee that is great for the character.

At any rate, back to real life. Sorry, just had long laugh at the thought.

Quote of the Day
In the midst of the word we were trying to say,
In the midst of our laughter and glee.
We will softly and silently vanish away,
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

-- Lewis Carroll "The Hunting of the Snark"

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

A Fine Command of the Language

I love my job. I really do. The other developer who works with me is about as unlikely in this business as I am. She's an ex-bar-maid and she's over 50. Needless to say, she has a fine command of the language. Today, someone working on the phone system bumped a power switch in the server room that just so happened to have the development IIS server on it while we were trying to do a compile. She read him a description of his parentage that didn't even once mention anything as close as monkeys in a high monotone chant that scriggled up your spine like fingernails on a chalkboard. I wish I could have written it down to study. It was art. Later, I told her that next time I get to be the psychotic pistol-whipping cop. She just laughed.

I don't know what the dealio is with Lethargic Lad, except that it is comic convention season, so he might just be off doing his rounds. I'm keeping an eye on it. He left us hanging mid-story!

A bunch of us on the Fray got to suggesting links to someone who was bored, and I got a whole bunch of new cool ones to add to the Links Bank. Check them out! ------------>

Monday, July 07, 2003

Weekend Edition

Nothing particularly exciting to report. We did the 4th over at a dear friend's house. He went totally insane since his house is in a place where you can light off fireworks and he got some really offensive amount of them. We had a total ball. Since then it has been a quiet sort of thing, with the kids running in and out with flocks of their friends washing in and out with the tides of summer fun. Boys had a sleepover, the girls were mad because their friend who was going to come over couldn't. Did lots of cleaning, and lots of work.

I'm going to bite the bullet and send off a couple writing proposals this week. I've been sitting on my laurels with my little round for too long. Time to get off my duff and either do it or don't. I'm hoping for do, but we'll see how things go. I'm not one of those people that is firmly convinced that anyone really gives a rat's bikini about what I'm blathering about.

Lethargic Lad hasn't been updated as of this printing, so I can't turn it back on. I'll keep an eye out and grab it as soon as it comes out.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Patriotism for the Other 364 Days

I spent last night oohing and aahing at the fireworks and the bunting and banners. Today I've washed the smoke from the barbeque out of my hair and things are back to their usual summer weekend mileu. Just as character is formed not in big events but in small everyday choices, it is my belief that my feelings for my country are formed on these other days of the year.

Our flag represents us and we make sure it is there to witness. Everywhere we go we take it with us, from the deepest oceans to the depths of intrastellar space. It flies over all the important events and places in our lives. It flutters in the hot asphalt haze over a courthouse, and in a crisp fall breeze over a new school year. It hangs over the biggest sporting events, and the smallest Cub Scout den meeting.

It is ours in conflict, too. It is wind-tattered above a storm-tossed battleship, gunpowder-scented from the black clouds of artillery fire and mud-spattered on a soldier's sleeve. It is painted in careful strokes on a deadly silver fusilage and on its fiery payload. And it carries our grief when it is ceremoniously and meticulously folded by white gloves and handed to a tearful loved one.

Because it is such a potent symbol, people use it for good and for ill. We are enraged when enemies burn it to symbolize how they would like to hurt us. We turn in bewildered anger when our own do the same to show us they don't agree. We cheer when victorious atheletes wrap it around themselves, and we jeer when politicians do the same.

Many of you wouldn't consider me particularly patriotic. I don't fly a flag on my house; it's inside hanging off the bookcase. Now that I think about it, I guess that truly is symbolic of my particular brand of patriotism. I don't get up on my soapbox, and I don't wear it on my sleeve. But that doesn't mean that it isn't there. I am a citizen of this country. I am an American. And I will do what I can to keep her the best place on this planet to live.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Hot Dames, Spit Curls, and Weak Alibis

I was semi-patiently waiting on the compiler and wandering aimlessly in the Institute of Official Cheer when I found a new treasure.

Lance Lawson

Lance is a sort of Encyclopedia Brown meets Sam Spade comic described as, "Four pictures, at least two characters, a mystery, a mystery resolved." You are supposed to take your clues from the visuals in the panels. Mr. Lilek has appended some very good Ellery Queen to them to flesh them out (wonder if he could give is a hand with The Maltese Gnu). the solutions are at the very bottom of the pages.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Pseudo-coded morning

Some days the covers are awfully heavy. Germ-riddled children brought something home that I caught, and I'm running minus a whole lotta sleep tonight, so I don't think I'm making a hell of a lot of sense.

while (breathing) {

1. Kids must get to school. Can I move? Am I vomiting frequently? Why are you wasting time asking? It's almost 6 and boys have to be at bus stop by 6:15! Get up! You showered last night before bed, so clean clothes on me, rouse and tend ogres, chivvying everyone out the door to the bus stop in their respective waves (boys first, then girls).

2. Once girls on bus, stagger to car under load of briefcase and laptop case. I work in a small box, and am not required to discuss anything with anyone directly. Go to work and send email out saying I have plague and hang sticky-note with "Email Only" written on it on closed door. Once warning system in place, anyone who enters is required to abandon all hope.

3. Even if I give up and go home, I cannot relax and be truly ill because boys are home at 2:00 (because they start school at 7:15 am). Girls arrive at 3:40, and then chores, homework, and dinner a la shark-tank. The evening fun ensues (driving various houseapes to various activities and then turning around and picking up said houseapes).

4. After feeding children to monster under boys' bed, and drowning uh, I mean making everyone brush their teeth, comb fur, and scrub scales, aforementioned houseapes are nestled all snugly in their beds (a process which on a good day resembles a cage-match in a phone booth; bad day hardly bears thinking about).

5. Now I have to do the work I didn't get done during the day because I was feeling wretched, plus what I had scheduled to do once they were asleep. Re-prioritize to attempt to make humanly possible. Have long laugh at the thought. Crap! Was supposed to update website tonight, too! Eventually, whatever I have contracted is complicated by a nasty case of QWERTY-itis when I fall asleep on my keyboard.

When annoying system beep awakens me, look at clock.

function (getUP);

var t = systemtime

switch (t) {

case t < "05:30":

case t = "05:30":
call wakeBoys();

case t > "05:30":
call wakeBoys(Late);

call wakeBoys();