A window into the life of a professional geek, wife and mother (and nonni), stitcher/designer, bibliophile, old-school gamer, and whatever other roles she finds herself in.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

When the levee breaks...

When Katrina gave us a miss to the south, I was pretty happy.

But now, seeing what she's done to the Mississippi Delta, I actually feel a little bit guilty. I can't help but think that if she'd hit us as a cat 1 and crossed over a wider part of Florida, she'd have been a bit weaker and had a lot less of the Gulf over which to build up steam, and things might have gone easier for the Big Easy. But on the other hand, it might have plowed into Florida's panhandle, which got smacked by Dennis this year while still rebuilding from Ivan *last* year. That, and some of my coworkers have pointed out that there are still folks here with blue tarps, and even a "modest" cat 1 would still have had severe consequences.

But still...I'm just completely shocked by Katrina's wake. I've never been to New Orleans (and to be honest, have had very little desire to go there), but the flooding it got from even this indirect hit is just completely incomprehensible to me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thanks to a friendly weather goddess, I found a The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test. And the verdict is....

Outcast Genius
69 % Nerd, 65% Geek, 69% Dork

For The Record: A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions. You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occasion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.
How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 64% on nerdiness
You scored higher than 84% on geekosity
You scored higher than 99% on dork points

Um...okay. I'm not particularly happy about the comparison to Bill Gates, but I guess the rest of it fits, somehow. And I've already determined that the Web seems to feel I have missed my calling as an evil genius.

Outcast genius...evil genius.... I'm not sure I really *want* to achieve world domination, though. You know how much work that would be??

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Katrina and the waves?

Once again, Florida eyes an incoming storm...

0800 EDT
Katrina is at 26.2N 79.0W with winds of 50 mph

Tropical Storm Katrina is expected to make landfall early tomorrow morning as a category 1 hurricane, about 150 miles south of here, but her effects are already starting to manifest. At first glance, it would seem an ordinary day - patches of blue peek through grey rainclouds, a common sight in summer in Florida. But on stepping outside, the weather *feels* different. The wind has picked up a bit, blowing from the east in gusts a little stronger than summer breezes tend to be, but not by much. And there's an unsettling feel to it, a slight sensation of unease in my chest akin to mild anxiety. It may be the associated change in pressure - perhaps that is why animals react long before a tropical cyclone approaches.

Consciously, I'm not worried about Katrina. My house weathered two category 3s last year with naught but a downed fence and a few windstripped shingle tabs. We've had routine thunderstorms give us worse than we're likely to get from her. But the anxious feel remains.

Maybe that's why people go insane stocking up on plywood and bottled water - it gives them an outlet to deal with the stormbrought anxiety.

1100 EDT
Katrina is at 26.2N 79.3W with winds of 60mph

I stepped outside while heating up my lunch to have a look around. The wind has picked up some more, blowing in from the northeast at 20 mph. I opted to eat lunch outside, and watched batallions of cumulus clouds - some silver, some white - march across the sky as the wind toyed with my hair. My anxiety from earlier is gone - perhaps I've acclimated to the change in pressure, or perhaps the beauty of the day has overwhelmed it.

1300 EDT
Katrina is at 26.2N 79.5W with winds of 65 mph

The rains have started, heralded by a torrential outburst that lasted mere moments before giving way to a steady fall. The sky is a blanket of silver-grey, too light still to be considered dismal or ominous. From my interior office I hear the drumming of the rain as the wind tosses it against coworkers' windows, making it seem a heavier fall than it actually is.

1430 EDT
Katrina is at 26.2N 79.6W with winds of 70 mph

The rain has stopped, and the wind has died down a bit. The sky has cleared a little, once more revealing patches of blue behind the continuing march of white-clad cumuli. The air is a bit muggy now, no longer the refreshing breeze I felt at lunch.

1600 EDT
Katrina is at 26.2N 79.8W with winds of 75 mph

Katrina is now officially a hurricane, albeit barely. My parents have already called to check up on me, although I have reassured them that we're in no danger. At the moment the sky is a pale silver. The wind has started to pick back up but it has yet to rain again.

1630 EDT
Here comes the rain again, just in time for rush hour. Yesterday a sudden rainstorm blew by, and in the half hour it was around, there were 17 accidents on I-95 near here. I think my evening commute will be interesting, although I hope it's not interesting in a Chinese curse sort of way.

1930 EDT
Katrina is at 25.9N 80.1W with winds of 80mph

Katrina came ashore in Ft. Lauderdale, some distance south of us. I had a work social this evening at a restaurant on the river, and made it there without event although I passed a fender-bender on the way. The wind was a bit more obvious riverside than at work - the waves were choppy, and the palm trees were buffetted by the incoming gusts. There were some incoming clouds in eerie shades of brownish yellow, but most bore the dark grey of summer storms.

Back at home, it's calm - almost eerily so. But now that the hurricane has made landfall, we have probably seen the worst we will get from her, and it wasn't much. Apparently my Hurricane Deterrent System (aka storm shutters) is working quite well!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Know what?

All of a sudden, that's become DD's most commonly used phrase. Thinking back, she first started using it a couple weeks ago, but it was driven home to me last night how common it's become. After picking DD up from school, the conversation went something like this:
Mom! Know what?
Today in class we had a test and know what?
I got them all right! And know what?
My table got 10 pennies! And know what?
We have 23 pennies now, and know what?
We get to go to the treasure chest on Friday, and know what?

You get the idea. On one hand, "and know what?" got old very quickly. But on the other, I'm pleased that she's being so talkative about her day. It wasn't so long ago that the conversation went along these lines:
How was your day?
What did you do today in school?
What kind of stuff?
Just stuff.

I know this new "know what?" phase won't last forever. My stepkids went through a similar phase (although their phrase of choice was "guess what?") and this one will be replaced with "and, like, ...", or the monosyllabic responses that seem to be the hallmark of teens.

Know what? I think I'll cherish the "know what?" phase while it lasts.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In Memoriam...

Remember before God
and those who fell at Bosworth Field,
having kept faith,
22 August 1485

loyaulte me lie...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Epidemic from Asia?

It started in Japan, I hear, then spread to the UK and is now making the rounds over here in the States....

Sudoku, that is. The number-placing puzzle that's soaring in popularity. The stated objective is simple: Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9.

I suspect, though, that the covert objective is world domination. I first discovered Sudoku last week, when I noticed that there was a new puzzle in our local paper. Now, I love pencil puzzles, especially logic puzzles, so I was immediately hooked. Some of my friends over in the UK admit to being Sudoku addicts, so at least I'm in good company.

There are several places online to play or find puzzles, such as WebSudoku and Daily SuDoku. If you haven't tried Sudoku before, give them a try.

But be forewarned that your free time may disappear!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Timing is everything...

So the service station at which I refueled on Friday for $2.37/gallon now has gas at $2.57. I'm glad I didn't wait until this morning before filling up!

I was also up until 1am finishing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I can't wait for the last one, because I am extremely curious how everything shakes out....

Friday, August 12, 2005

Where's the lubricant?

On the way home from work, my idiot light came on - time to refuel my car. Not a pleasant experience right now - most of the gas stations in the area are selling regular unleaded for about $2.50 a gallon or more. I spotted a convenience store with $2.37 and was happy to find cheap gas (the convenience store catecorner at the same intersection had $2.54). Then I did a double-take...since when is $2.37 "cheap gas"? It was less than a year ago that I was griping about price-gouging during our evacuation for Hurricane Frances:

At about 5am we pulled into a Mobil station in Brunswick, GA. There was a bit of price-gouging going on - typically a gallon in Georgia goes for around $1.75, but they were selling for $1.99.

Only two weeks ago, $2.25 was the average, with $2.19 being the best deal to be had. And when we first arrived in Virginia, we saw $2.08/gallon (it was up to $2.19 by the end of the week).

Of course, $2.37 (and even $2.50) is cheap compared to California, or Europe. This whole fuel thing is getting ridiculous, but I keep buying - we have a very sparse public transportation system, and with intense heat/humidity and kids to transport, biking isn't an option. So I grit my teeth and pump.

It's enough to give one vapors.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Shenandoah dreamin' on such a summer's day...

We had a wonderful time in Virginia. The weather was nice - degree-wise, not any cooler than here, but the humidity level (and probably the elevation as well) made quite a difference. Certainly the amount of sun was a factor - I was probably outdoors more last week than I've been the rest of the year, and all I have is a very mild sunburn - about what I'd get in only 10-15 minutes down here.

Sunday we arrived, and after spending much of the day with my folks, we drove to the resort. We'd had to get up at 5am to make our flight, so Monday was spent in relaxation. We went to one of the pools for a bit, and I tried a sauna for the first time. I will certainly never compare Florida to a sauna again - I could handle the heat at first, but once someone added water to the hot rocks, I felt as though my lungs were on fire! I made my retreat and didn't go back in.

Tuesday we drove up to Gettysburg, being in 4 states over the 3 hour drive. I've been to Gettysburg before, but it is a rather large battlefield and even after this trip I don't think I've seen all of it. Rural Pennsylvania in the mountains is quite beautiful, and history aside, I enjoyed being in the countryside. We did the standard driving tour, and got out and walked parts of it, including climbing to the top of Big Round Top. It was a bit of a steep climb, and the ground was very rocky, so I certainly got my exercise! After touring the field, we went to a nice colonial tavern, Dobbin House, for dinner. Excellent food - I highly recommend it if you're in the area!

We got back from Gettysburg just before midnight, so Wednesday was more relaxation (which is, after all, the whole point of a vacation). DsD and DsS went on a trail ride, while DD got a pony ride (she was too little for the trail), but mostly we hung out and played cards or read.

Wednesday night was the weekly Winemaker's Dinner hosted by the resort. When one thinks of American wine, Virginia is not the first place that comes to mind, but it is very good wine country with a lot of nice little vineyards and some rather wonderful wines. Every week, the resort invites a different local winery to pair wines with dishes the chef prepares. This time, First Colony had the honor. The dishes were delicious and the wines were very good, although two of the five featured wines were chardonnays, of which I am not a fan. I tend more toward Rieslings, myself.

Thursday we walked up one of the trails on the mountain for a bit. I'm not exactly in the best of shape, but the view was nice, and we found a large patch of raspberries and indulged ourselves a little. I *love* raspberries and blackberries, and the taste of wild berries was more than worth the scratches I got for my troubles. I could certainly see myself living up there, especially if I had enough land to have a lot of berries!

Friday was another outdoor activity day. DH stayed behind to work on a paper for this theology class while the kids and I went to check out a rock wall - DsD had done one before, but it was a new experience for the rest of us. DD did quite well for her first time, and got about halfway, which was more than I did. I didn't exactly have the best shoes for it - all I'd brought was a pair of generic leather sandals, which I put many miles on in Italy last year. I might have done better on the rock wall barefoot, but they wouldn't let me. My hands got a bit stiff and cramped in my laughable first attempt, but I had fun just the same. After that, we went on the ski lift, which runs several times a week during the summer to take folks up near the top of the mountain for the scenic view. It was quite impressive, but on the way down a storm blew in, and *right after* (maybe 20 seconds) we got off back at the bottom of the lift, lightning struck one of the lift towers. Nobody was hurt, thank God, but a couple of family groups were trapped on the lift for a while. I actually saw the strike and heard a loud *POP* - we got very lucky, but the whole event was a little unnerving.

We also did another trail ride - I borrowed a pair of DH's shoes so I could go riding as well, while he and DD stayed back at the stables and did crafts and a mini-trail ride. DD had a blast, and really seems to like riding. We went to a local barbecue place, Hank's Smokehouse, for dinner. They had very good ribs! They also had a sauce called "juniper sauce" which contained malt vinegar, juniper berries and such, which seemed rather strange but was very good on fries. Another place worth checking out if you're in the area!

Saturday we drove up to Antietam (in Sharpsburg, MD) to tour the battlefield there. It was a beautiful day, and more beautiful countryside. We were lucky enough to catch a reenactment group, the 23rd Virginia Infantry, and watched their firing demonstration. I'd never seen live Civil War reenactors before, so it was a lot of fun. We also passed by a History Channel film crew as well, which was pretty cool.

Sunday we visited my parents for a bit, then flew home.

I read two books during the trip: Sarah Zettel's _The Firebird's Vengeance_, the third in her Isavalta trilogy (fantasy with borrowings from Russian and Asian mythology - certainly a pleasant read), and Ken Follett's _The Pillars of the Earth_, detailing the lives and events of a group of people involved in building a cathedral. I finished _Pillars_ on the plane last night, and quite enjoyed it. I was mildly surprised that timeframe-wise, it covered some of the same period in English history as another book I finished a week ago, Penman's _Time and Chance_. Different perspective, though. Instead of seeing things from the level of the major players in a succession war, in _Pillars_ one sees the effects on the average joe. Very good book, it was recommended highly to me, and I'm glad to pass along the suggestion. I do have to agree with a friend of mine, though, who said that he enjoyed it and the history was sound, but he found it 'a bit sex-obsessed'. There were certainly a few scenes that were more explicit than I personally care for, but that seems to be a trend nowadays.

I started the new Harry Potter book, but since I'm still playing "post-vacation catch-up", I haven't gotten very far.

So that was my week, which was everything a vacation should be - relaxing, fun, with good food and good company. DD started back to school yesterday, so it's back to the grind!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Back to waterbreathing...

We got back from Massanutten in Virginia late last night. We had a wonderful time - we saw Gettysburg and Antietam, did a few outdoor things, and just general chilling out.

I'll write more about it later, I promise. We've been back only about 24 hours, though, and we're still in post-vacation catch-up mode.