So many words, so little time....

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Zen and the Art of Spellchecking...

Jim Lileks has this note on the bottom of his blog tonight here.
(Note: spellcheck wanted to replace “Tholian” with “Taliban.” I hit the LEARN button for Tholian, which means that some day I will spellcheck a column while tired and submit an essay that castigates the Kabul bombing and the Tholian remnants who claimed responsibility.)

Anyone who writes fiction has similar problems. I wrote a piece of Tolkien fan-fiction with my daughters and I just couldn't stand those damned red squigglies anymore and I have a whole legion of Elven names and words in my spellchecking dictionary that I'm just waiting to have show up. Have "melior" show up as an alternative for "mellon" for example.

What words have you added to your spell-check that you are afraid are going to bite you in the arse one day?
Ode to Aging by the Pagan Horde....

The girls and several of their friends wrote me a song for my birthday, and performed it for me with their youth group tonight and they said I could share it with you:

Sung to the tune of 'You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile' from the musical 'Annie'

No sanity, big calamity
The biggest number yet,
But, Mother, you're never fully dressed
without a life......

You're turning older yet
We've got to remember
Mommy, you're never fully dressed
without a life....

Who cares what you look like
You're still a geek to us
All your grays and lumpy bumps,
And those wrinkles by your eyes
are all part of you

No sanity, big calamity
You've got to remember
That you're turning older yet
The biggest number yet,
Oh yes you're never fully dressed
without a life......

You're never fully dressed
Though you may wear your best
You're never fully dressed!!!

I'll leave you to imagine the big finish...

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Letter of Intent (ironic joke)

To: A Certain Corporation
Attn: Legal Department
From: Azathoth, Nyarlathotep and Hastur, Elder Attorneys.


Our agents among the mortal herd have brought to Our attention your recent product entitled Visual Studio .NET 2003. Therefore, We now give you statutory notice of intent of proceedings to be taken against your company by the Many-Angled Ones.

With this suit We will show that Visual Studio, and to a lesser extent all of your range of products, infringe upon the recognised "look-and-feel" of the Elder Gods, for the following reasons:

o Visual Studio is a crawling abomination from the darkest pits of Hell;

o No one can be in it's presence for too long without being driven into gibbering insanity;

o A cult who worship it exist in secret amongst the mortal herd;

o Those who associate with it for too long develop common physical characteristics, to wit: pale, clammy skin, bulging eyes, generally unkempt physical appearance, tendency towards nocturnal living, change in diet to that which normal men do not eat (in your case tacos, burgers and Jolt Cola; in Ours, human flesh, Fungi of Yuggoth and the blood of Alien Gods);

o Mysterious tomes that purport to explain this phenomenon are reputed to exist; they are bound in an unnatural substance and only available at a terrible cost to the user.

o Visual Studio seeks to utterly dominate the development environment, and force all who dwell there to live in eternal damnation.

As you can see, Our case is very strong, especially when you consider that most judges prefer not to have chittering things with tentacles for faces scoop out their brains and eat them.

We hope that you will consider these points carefully and settle out of court, since it is not Our intention to have your senior partners spend the rest of their mercifully short lives under heavy sedation in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. After all, it was the Lords of the Outer Planes who gave humanity lawyers in the first place.

Respectfully yours,

pp. J. Arthur Hastur, LL.B., B.C.L, B.D

My compiler isn't cooperating again. Can you tell? ;)

Monday, October 13, 2003

Walking on Broken Glass

It's hard for me to take a stand on the Rush Limbaugh/drug thing. For one thing, it's hard for me to stand in general. (pause for collective groan at bad joke)

I live with a chronic pain condition. For me, all it takes is a movement or even just to wait a minute and I get small jabbed reminders of just what he's been talking about. Larger efforts bring even more pain. On a good day, I feel like I've run 10 miles and worked out for four hours the day before. On a bad day, well, let's just say it gets worse.

I can understand the urge to get relief no matter what. I've been lucky, if you can call it that, that my physicians don't believe that those drugs are appropriate or helpful for my condition. As a result, I don't get them prescribed to me and so I don't have to fight them off when the prescription runs out. I fight mine with a series of folk remedies, OTC anti-inflammatories, symptom relief techniques and just plain sucking it up. I get through; some days are easier than others.

And there are days when I fall down. One of the most effective pain relievers I have access to easily is alcahol, and there are times when it is very very hard to stay away from it. Again, luckily, the kids are all graduates of the local D.A.R.E. program and if I even walk down that aisle in the store I get them channelling Nancy Reagan's preaching in four-part harmony. If you don't think that's a deterrent, you haven't met the Pagan Horde.

This life is the only one I get, and the coin it is measured in is time. My children are only this age for a short time. I have things that I want to get accomplished in my life, and duties as a mother that can't be shirked. I made a choice long ago that I wouldn't just lay down and hand over any part of my time, my life to this. If this gets any, it is going to have to take it. I get up each morning, and I go to work and chase kids and do what is necessary. That means that sometimes I have to do things that hurt. That means I pay the price the next days or weeks in increased pain and debility. I consider it an investment, in my kids and their lives and in mine. It hurts me to tie my own shoes and, yes, it hurts me like crap to rollerblade. But I do both anyways.

I think both sides need to take a knee for a second. Those who are trying to excuse Rush need to realize that there are quite a few people in this country who are fighting these conditions who don't resort to illegal use of prescription medication to combat it. He made his choice just like everyone else and he needs to face the consequences of that act. And those who just blithely strode into the room and started spouting how his pain couldn't be THAT bad and cut-and-pasted that article about playing golf obviously have no idea what price he probably paid the next day for doing that, or why he would do it. To truly understand, you would need to walk a day with someone whose shoes are full of broken glass, and there's no end to the road in sight.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Stop-and-Go Walden Pond

Each morning, I get the children out the door and trudge out to my car. Seatbelt, ignition, hook hands-free to cell phone. The hands return to the steering wheel by habit, almost without my thinking about it. Turn, look twice, and then do my little back-and-fill tango because someone with a really compensatorially large pickup moved in and their parking space is right behind mine. I wait at our entrance for the upstream traffic light to make a gap for me, and then I join the flow of steel creeping down my street.

Cars and trucks and everything of all shapes and sizes creeping along their daily pilgrimage to wherever. The lady next to me has a very nice Jag, I notice. She's on the phone. The guy in front of me is in a Lexus that looks like a shuttle on the old Star Trek and has a license plate surround that says something about the Microsoft Exchange team being feared, so I know where he's probably headed. He's in the wrong lane for that exit, so that will be fun later on. The other lane is moving faster (of course) so by the time I look back the Jag has been replaced by a beat up white pickup with a bed mounded wth filled leaf-bags.

The crawl stops. My eyes stray out of their usual straight forward to rear-view mirror and back flicker. The fields off to my left are being harvested, and the pumpkins that have been hidden by the vines are being herded by workers into bright orange groups at the edges of the field before being picked up and carted off to their final destinations. The wild apple tree on the right has started dropping fruit, so there is a section of street where the bike lane and the whole curb is covered in green apples in various states of smashed. A bicyclist goes up on the sidewalk to avoid them. I wonder if anyone thinks about that - someone probably threw an apple core out the window here, or a truck lost one twenty years ago, and now there is a tree here. That still feels strange to me. Back home, fruit is a product of careful gardening and hard work. Here, it's a weed. The kids walking by on their way to the mall keep this one's fruit pretty well picked, but they don't ever touch the ones that have fallen. The ruby eyes in front of me blink dim or wink out, and we move forward a few feet.

We get to the freeway, and the kindness of a little electric blue rice-rocket with a hatchback full of black speakers on the right lets the Lexus get into the right place. With a quick wave he powers off to his life. In my mind I see mauve halls and bright orange styrofoam coffee cups and have a little reminiscent moment. Some of my favorite ideas have been scrawled on the back of unbleached brown napkins from those breakrooms. I smile a bit to myself. This happens almost every morning; not necessarily caused by this Lexus but there are quite a few of it's brethren running around with those tags dangling by the mirror to remind me. It's been almost five years, and I still think back.

The freeway isn't much better than the arterial, but the construction makes it a bit more interesting. We pass by lines of those blinking yellow lights mounted on plastic barrels I call road aliens. The kids and I once had a great conversation where we speculated how they were trying to get home and they all needed to work together to signal the mothership. We had a taxonomy worked out, and everything. You have your barrell-bellied road aliens, and your spindly-legged road aliens, and your stone-toed road aliens (those are the ones mounted directly on concrete barriers). At the end we decided they needed to get more of them in one place to do it. Looks like they haven't managed it yet, but they try around here. A lot.

I finally get to my exit, and we dive back into another flock of aliens. There is usually a hawk that sits on top of a power pole and glares at us on our way, but he must be off on other pursuits today. It's most definately fall, and the gray lowering brows over the hills make me want to go home and curl up with a comforter and a good book. A tandem bike passes me in the bike-lane. Matching rain-gear, too. Maybe I'm too independent - I don't understand why you would pay $2,000 dollars for the priveledge of not being able to ride the bike by yourself. Of course, they probably have separate bikes, too. But I still wonder.

Up the hill, and then down on the other side. The clouds mask the views of Bellevue and downtown Seattle today. I turn into the parking lot, and reverse my getting in the car ritual. Double check - wallet, phone, keys... Grab laptop case, lock doors and trudge up the stairs to the office.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Coming Home...

He came home today. In a lot of ways for me it feels like introducing a new pet into the household. You watch them like a hawk, watching to make sure they don't hurt themselves or get into any kerfubbles with the current residents. I worked from home the rest of the day while he was on the phone calling everyone in our area code, I think. The rest of the kids got home an hour or so later, and so far things have gone calmly this evening.

The worrying has already begun again. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach. The listening to the slightest sound and having to classify it as benign or "what the heck is going on now?". I can feel it falling down around my shoulders like a musty old wool greatcoat scented with stress and faux Old Spice. Actually the Old Spice is wafting out of the bathroom. One of the girls squirted ZillaJr's shaving cream all through the laundry basket; I don't know why and I've decided this is a battle I'm not going to pick today. I did the laundry that was in there to try to kill it but we still get drifts of it wafting through the house every time someone opens the bathroom door. Besides, the constant beeping of the phone keys and Caller ID as he tried to returned his calls was driving me straight up the wall and the washer and dryer helped mask that.

He's trying to deal. He didn't like being cooped up, but things were easier there, and he's way too smart not to have noticed that pretty quick. As good as it feels to be out, there's also a lot of things that he didn't have to deal with for a while that he has to think about now. He has the rest of the week home from school to stretch those real-life muscles again. He said it feels like he's had to go to work. In some ways, that's exactly right. His work is growing up. I just wish it was easier.

We had the meetings and what have you and came home with a stack of prescriptions and phone numbers and appointment cards. I guess that "outpatient" means that instead of having everything in one place you have to go all over heck all the time. There are so many it feels like I've taken a second job. Maybe I should; at this rate, even just the out-of-pocket costs are going to be interesting to deal with. Mental health insurance parity, anyone? If this is what it takes, I'll do it. I don't care what it is as long as we end up with a reasonable outcome for him, and for all of them.

I know there is nothing certain in this whole teenager thing, even without this to complicate it. I used to be certain that somehow we would find a way through this, but I'm not anymore. I've seen now what the path will be if it keeps going the way it's gone this last year. The odds I'm fighting just keep getting worse. I wanted to scream at some poor lady from church yesterday. I know she was trying to comfort me, but she has a talent for saying precisely the wrong thing at the wrong time. That whole "the Lord wouldn't give you a task without giving you the way to accomplish it" platitude just hurts when you feel like you've failed this badly.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The Longest Miles...

My younger son is in the hospital, so things are a little messed up around here. Things are going to be fine, but we are going to have an interesting few weeks getting things straightened back out.

The hardest part is every time I go to visit him, I have to leave. And the longest miles I have ever gone are when I have to drive away from there without him.