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.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Friends will be friends

I'm still pretty fried. My commute to work this morning was frustrating (a 15-minute drive took nearly an hour), and my motivation is at low tide. I have this strong desire to hang out in the hot tub with a pint of ice cream. Too much to do for that, though. Maybe I'll at least get to sit around and watch football and stitch tonight, after I do some web updates.

Sorry to continue being unoriginal, but I'm going to lay another meme on you - last week's Friday Forum.

1] What qualities in a friendship are most important to you?
Honesty, trust, and respect.

2] Who is your oldest friend [in terms of how long you've known the person]? Who is your newest friend? How did you meet both of them, and why do you get along so well?
My oldest friend (in terms of length of time known) with whom I still have some sort of regular contact, I've known since 4th grade. We don't communicate extremely frequently, maybe email every month or so, but we've managed to keep in contact since high school. We were both in the 'geeky' crowd throughout most of our school tenure, and have oddball senses of humor (ah, pun wars!).

My newest...well, that's hard to say. There are folks from the stitching BBs that I've known for a while and am communicating with more often of late. The newest in-person friend, I met on my recent overseas trip. He's a good friend of a close friend of the family, who figured he'd get on well with DH and I. Good call.

3] Have you ever met someone, become really close friends with them, and then drifted apart for some reason? How did it happen, and did you ever try to get back in touch with that person?
It often happens. I've reestablished contact with various folks who were friends in high school, then we drift apart again because there's very little common interest anymore. People change, and sometimes friends can go in opposite directions. I've also had close friends at a previous job, and when either they or I left the job, there wasn't really a common bond anymore.

4] Do you feel that men and women can be good friends? Why/why not? Do you have any close friends of the opposite sex?
I believe that they can. I'd wager that up until recently, more of my close friends have been male than female - falling into the 'geek' crowd in elementary school where I was the only female, and continuing through college when I was in predominantly male classes, I had a lot more in common with them. And not exactly being Miss America material, I tended to have 'sister' or 'one of the guys' roles instead of 'prospective date'. The gender ratio of friends (and close friends) has shifted, but I do still have male close friends. One of whom is one of DH's oldest friends (the 'friend of the family' mentioned above).

5] Do you tend to make friends easily? Why/why not? Do you have many online friends? Which of your friends lives the closest to you?
I think I make friends easily, although close friends take a bit more time. I make friends more easily than I used to - I was terribly shy growing up, and just being more outgoing and treating people with respect has helped.

Do I have many online friends? *laugh* I probably have more online friends than friends I've met live, and there are a couple of online folks that I consider close friends.

Which of my friends lives closest to me...well, there's a couple who are friends with DH and I that live about half a mile south of us. And both of our regular gaming buddies live about 2-3 miles north.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

To sleep, perchance to dream..

Still in a bit of brainfry mode after all the storms and such, so I'm just going to drop a few memes today....

Tuesday Twosome 9/21/04 - Sleep...

1. How many hours on average do you get daily and is it enough?
On weekdays, somewhere between 5 and 6. Rather short of how much I probably should be getting. Weekends are a little better, in that I can sleep in. I probably average 9 hours. I laze around in bed a little longer on Saturdays but I don't know if one could really count drowsing punctuated by kid interrupts at 30-minute intervals as "sleep".

2. Can you sleep anywhere or does it have to be in a bed?
Oh, how I wish I could sleep anywhere! I can fall asleep on the couch if I'm tired enough, but in general it has to be a bed. I'd dearly love to be one of those people who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

3. When you go to sleep, does it need to be absolutely quiet or do you need a little noise (radio or TV)?
Most of the time, normal house/environmental background noise is enough. If DH is out of town, I sometimes find I sleep easier with soft music on, but most of the time it doesn't matter. Sometimes I can go to sleep with lights and TV on, other times I have great difficulty in doing so.

4. Name two things/situations that can ruin your sleep:
Having a lot on my mind, whether unfinished business, stress, or just general mental restlessness, is probably my single most common sleep disruptor. Physical discomfort is another.

5. Name two things you "must have" in order to sleep comfortably
I definitely sleep easier with DH beside me or at least at home (he can be on the computer and I can sleep knowing he's around). I also sleep easier in my own bed than I do while traveling.

Speaking of dreams, the last two Stitching Blogger's QotW have been dreamings...

9/27/04 - Would you or have you designed your own cross stitch design? If you have can we see it?
Over time I've had the occasional idea for a design, but they've never gone from brainstorm to implementation. Probably the closest thing I have is a 1-inch design as part of a tribute of sorts for Teresa Wentzler. The knotwork border doesn't show quite so well in the image, but looks okay at normal size.

Right now I mostly just play around with colors and such on existing patterns. Perhaps when I get more confident in my stitching abilities, I may try my hand at a design or two.

9/20/04 - If you could design your dream needlework/cross stitch shop, what would it be like?

Oh boy.... Well, first of all, it'd be hurricane proofed, either by building design, or by location. Preferably in a tower in a small castle in Wales!

I'd have at least two floors, one of which would be a stitching lounge, with a number of comfortable chairs and good lights, and small tables for putting notions or teacups on. There'd be a small tea/coffee service, like many bookstores have now. There'd be a shelf with design catalogs and stitching references and such.

The second floor would be well-supplied with complete lines of threads - standard flosses, silks, overdyeds, metallics. There'd also be a wide selection of beads, charms, and other embellishments, and plenty of essential items such as needles, scissors, and other tools. Shelves of packages containing fabrics, both standard colors and hand-dyeds. Okay, so it's a big floor. Maybe we should make it *three* floors. The third would contain racks of patterns from a wide variety of designers.

Hey, since this is just a dream anyway, why don't I add wormhole technology to allow instantaneous delivery of special orders of fabric, patterns, or such! And transporter technology, to allow stitchers from around the world to congregate in one location to stitch and chat.

But after all, other than the pleasure of actually being able to handle all the wonderful stitching supplies out there, and getting to meet other stitchers in person, the large number of online stores provides most of this already. Except for the comfy chairs!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I dream of post-Jeannie

With power back, and a return to work today, things are almost back to normal. Almost. There's still a lot of visible damage around, and many major traffic lights are out, making for longer commutes. Many intersections either have temporary stopsigns, or National Guardsmen directing traffic. It's still difficult to find gas, or milk. Most schools start back Thursday, but some (including DsD's high school) are closed still due to damage. It will be months before things are truly back to normal, and God help us if another hurricane comes through.

This past weekend, other than the whole Jeanne thing, was okay. I won first place in my office football pool for the week, although I was very disappointed that my childhood team, the Redskins, lost to the Cowboys Monday night. Heartbreaking. I did get to stitch for about 6 hours or so on Last Supper, which was relaxing. I watched Pirates of the Caribbean Monday afternoon. Not a bad movie, actually - rather fun to watch. And I agree with DsD that Orlando Bloom looks better with dark hair than with blond elf hair, although he still doesn't do anything for me. Neither does Johnny Depp, but that's just me.

Ah, last week's goals:
  • Get to Curves 3x - Done!
  • Finish parish website - Getting there...
  • Move the frelling fence! - Well, we took it down, but it's still in the yard...

    This week's goals (gee, look familiar?)
  • Get to Curves 3x (probably not likely, with my Curves closed again due to Jeanne)
  • Finish website (I'm almost there...)
  • Move the fence!

    We went to Olive Garden for dinner tonight - I've been wanting Never-ending Pasta Bowl for two weeks now. We had an hour wait, but I'm well-stuffed now. The road to hell is paved with alfredo sauce....

    I'm listening to a new CD I got last week - Something Beautiful, the latest by Canadian band Great Big Sea. A friend of mine introduced me to GBS about 8 years ago, and I was hooked - and over the past couple years I've managed to get the rest of my family indoctrinated as well. They're sort of a Newfoundland Celtic/folk/rock style of music, a mix of traditional songs with modern compositions. Well worth checking out, although I will warn that some of their songs have a very high headsticker factor!

    Wow...that's enough of a data dump for one day!
  • Monday, September 27, 2004

    I'm still standing!

    It's been one wild ride, but here we are post-Jeanne. We lost a few shingles here and there on our roof, and didn't get power back until almost 10pm last night, but we're otherwise unscathed.

    By 3pm Saturday, the winds had started to pick up a bit. We turned off the breakers to the pool equipment and to the air conditioning - no need to get them fried by power surges. By 7pm we were getting sustained tropical-storm force winds, and the sky had a rather ominous brownish tinge to it. DsD had just gotten home from dinner at her BF's house, and said that some areas had already lost power. Reporters on the Weather Channel were reporting transformers blowing along the riverside. We watched and waited.

    By about 11pm we were getting hurricane-force winds. Just shy of midnight, Jeanne made landfall with 120mph winds about 65 miles south of us, and 3 miles north of where Frances came in. Jeanne's trailing eyewall came ashore about 1:30 or so. We lost cable feed around 2am, and retired to DsD's room to sleep. DD had thankfully fallen asleep around 10pm, and other than being rather restless during the heart of the storm, she remained asleep. We lost power around 3:15am.

    DH got up about 6am and did a quick damage inspection. We were still getting tropical-storm force winds, and intermittent heavy rains. Around 9am the winds had died down to occasional gusts, but the sky remained overcast and we continued to get rain. Which was for the best, really, since we were still without power.

    By midday, the storm had cleared enough that neighbors were chatting and inspecting each other's damage. We discovered to the horror of our olfactory senses that raw sewage was bubbling up from manholes and from the corner of our property. YUCK! It took forever to get through to the Public Works department, and by the time we did so someone else had reported it. Well, I guess the grass will be rather green there for a while!

    I got a little bit of stitching done in the middle of the afternoon, when the sun was out, and I read DD a few stories. DD played with her LeapPad a bit, since she couldn't watch TV or play on the computer.

    We lost our phone around 7pm, well after the storm had blown over. Cell reception had been pretty poor all day, and losing the landline cut off further family communications.

    Fortunately, we have a gas range and gas water heater, so we did have hot water and stovetop. We had dinner by candlelight, and as the sun went down on our darkened house, we went to bed.

    Around 9:45pm, the power came back on! What joy! With it came our phone and cable, so I was able to watch the second half of the Bucs-Raiders game. And we were able to turn on ceiling fans - we wanted to make sure the power would stay on before we turned on the air conditioning breakers.

    Life is back to normal, and I've realized just how dependent we are on power...and how much of a luxury it is. Schools are out today, as is my work. I don't know the extent of the damage in our area, so I don't know how long it will be before things are considered 'back to normal' for many people.

    But ultimately the most important thing is that we survived, and for that we're thankful.

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    In the cross-hairs

    Well, folks, it looks like we are indeed in Jeanne's sights - she's supposed to hit just south of us around 8am Sunday, at least according to the Friday 11am update. We're riding this one out - we are well-supplied, and we're within walking distance of the electric company dispatch facility and a power station, so we shouldn't be without power too long. It also helps that our power lines in our neighborhood are underground!

    Four hurricanes in six weeks is a lot of stress. According to the local paper, the only other recorded time 4 hurricanes hit a state in a single season was Texas in 1886. Wow, aren't we lucky? One of my online friend suggested selling my downed fence on eBay - as a survivor of 4 hurricanes it's certainly a little piece of history! Granted, Charley missed wide north, and we only got the ghost of Ivan the Terrible earlier this week, but it did get Erin in 1995. So I guess it counts!

    The worst part about the season is the helplessness many people feel. We can board up, evacuate, hunker down...but there's still nothing we can really do about the path of the hurricane itself, except to pray. DH wrote a Prayer of a Hurricane-watcher on his blog today...I am sometimes envious of his ability with words sometimes.

    For those of you in cyberspace who aren't in Jeanne's path, prayers and good thoughts are most appreciated. And I'll see y'all on the other side of the storm!

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    Enough already!

    Guess what? There's YET ANOTHER hurricane heading for us. Joyous.

    Jeanne should still be a minor hurricane when and if she hits here, and normally that'd be no big deal, but there is still a lot of debris from Frances, and folks who had substantial damage to their houses haven't had time for repairs yet.

    And even folks with minor or no damage are still worn out by the stress of this storm season.

    I know it's just a weather phenomenon, and that we're in an active tropical era and theoretically will be for the next 20 years, but there are times I have to wonder what happened in Florida to merit Divine Retribution.

    Of course, that opens up wild speculation. I saw on Snopes that someone is trying to say that the recent hurricanes are a Sign From God as to how folks should vote, because the tracks hit only counties that voted for a particular candidate in the much-disputed 2000 Election. Even without seeing the whole Snopes breakdown, I could see that the storm tracks given in the speculation were rather inaccurate. Floridians may not be able to count their votes correctly, but we darn well know where the hurricanes were. Sad that someone is trying to spin the whole situation to their own ends.

    Besides, I think if God were trying to drop a hint about the election, He could do so in a way that didn't need to require fudging data to make the point. Like running a hurricane ashore during Election Day, in a place likely to vote for the non-favored candidate. Hey, Election Day is still hurricane season....

    Personally, I think hurricanes are a conspiracy by plywood manufacturers. Or the Georgia Department of Tourism (evacuations are probably big business!). Well, no, I don't really think those things, but they're as plausible as any other crackpot non-meteorological theory right now.

    All I know is that I just want this season to be over. And that it's probably just as well that I haven't gotten that fence out of my yard yet!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Autumn has arrived...

    ..at least according to the calendar. Today, 22 September, is also the birthday of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo, and the date of the Long-Expected Party.

    The calendar may say it's autumn, but here there's no sign of it. Well, I take that back...a lot of trees around here have fallen or brown leaves, but Frances is more to blame for that.

    Truth be told, I miss autumn. I miss the earthy smell of leaves, the acrid tinge of woodsmoke in the air, the nip of a breeze with promise of frost, the rustle of windblown leaves, the crunch of fallen acorns... And the colors - the vivid reds, oranges, yellows in the landscape.

    Once the Autumn wind,
    Cool, crisp, exhilarating
    Played with my hair,
    Scattered the rainbow
    Of fallen leaves on the ground.

    Once the smell of wood,
    Burning in hearths,
    or the scent of fresh-raked earth,
    tickled my nose,
    let me dream of autumn nights.

    Once the cold majestic beauty
    of ice, of snow
    frosted the trees,
    and blanketed the earth in shimmering white.

    But here are no seasons,
    only the heat and stifling air
    and i long to go back to the wind.

    I've been down here nearly 14 years. I wrote the above poem 11 years ago, and I still miss the change of seasons.

    But enough of homesickness for now. Things have been a bit busy in a domestic sort of way and I didn't a chance to post this yesterday, so I will do so now.
    The week in review
    Since I publicly stated my goals for last week, I should at least give an update...

    Monday Resolutions - 13 Sept 2004 - In Review
  • Get to Curves 3x this week - Done!
  • Finish updates to parish website Mostly done...
  • Help remove sections of fence from backyard Not quite. I did at least post on the local freecyclers board, and got a reply from someone who was interested, but the fence itself is still in my yard.

    I also was able to stitch for about 5 hours this weekend, and a deposit was made on storm shutters.

    Monday Resolutions - 20 Sept 2004
  • Get to Curves 3x this week (One down, two to go!)
  • Finish website updates
  • Get the fence out of the backyard

    Gee...they look suspiciously like last week's goals.... The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    At least around here.
  • Monday, September 20, 2004

    Got to admit it's getting better...

    Today didn't exactly get off to a good start.

    About midmorning, I wandered to the break room to top off my coffee, to discover that someone had left an empty pot on a live burner. So, I took the pot off the burner while I prepped another filter with grounds, hit the 'brew' button, then wandered off to make room for more coffee. I got back from that to discover...
    ...I'd forgotten to put the pot back under the filter!

    Fortunately, I managed to get the mess cleaned up (and 2/3 a pot of coffee all over the counter makes *quite* the mess...), started a fresh pot with the pot in position, took the last of the spilled pot, and wandered back to my office.

    A couple hours later, I got a call from the guy who will be installing our storm shutters - he would meet me at my house in 15 minutes so I could sign the paperwork and give him a deposit. I get to the parking lot and discover...
    ...my battery was dead.
    Fortunately, I hitched a ride back to my house with an obliging coworker, got the ball rolling on storm shutters. But I couldn't reach DH to get a ride back to work (turns out he was in a meeting and couldn't respond to his pager or cell). I eventually got in touch with another coworker who brought me back to work. We jumpstarted my car, and I popped down to an auto parts store to get a new battery. I also got an extra set of jumper cables, since DsD had the only set in her trunk.

    While I was on the way to the auto parts store, DH called me back...but my cell phone wouldn't respond to any of my button presses, so I couldn't answer him. I eventually had to take the battery out of my cell to get it to reset so I could call DH back.

    In summary, my initial plan was to blog about how severe a case of Monday was afflicting me.

    But DH kindly offered to pick up DD tonight so I could get to Curves - I took a raincheck for tomorrow because I had the aftercare payment check. I'll try to cash the favor tomorrow.

    AND I got home to find not one, but two packages for me, the result of stitching BB trades. A wondering friend sent me a few packages of beads for an upcoming project, and a friend in a far corner sent me some wonderful UK dark chocolate (including some Thorntons dark chocolate gingers...yum!!). Incoming stash is always a mood-lifter.

    AND if the Minnesota Vikings beat the spread against the Philadelphia Eagles tonight, I'll take first place in the office pool this week! Of course, if the Eagles win by 4 or more, I get zip, zilch, nada. Still, it should be a good game.

    And I'll get a bit of stitching time :)

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    A little hurricane humor

    With all the hurricanes around, everyone could use a little laugh. I heard this on the radio yesterday, and thought I'd put it up here!

    Top Ten Reasons Hurricane Season is Like Christmas

    10. Decorating the house (boarding up windows)
    9. Dragging out boxes that haven't been used since last season (camping gear, flashlights)
    8. Last minute shopping in crowded stores
    7. Regular TV shows pre-empted for "specials"
    6. Family coming to stay with you
    5. Family and friends from out-of-state calling
    4. Buying food you don't normally buy ... and in large quantities
    3. Days off from work
    2. Candles

    And the number one reason Hurricane Season is like Christmas ...

    At some point you know you're going to have a tree in your house!

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    Life's a stitch

    Catching up on the Stitcher's QotW. I've been rather preoccupied with non-stitching lately, but since I'm in a Stitching Blogger webring, I really should talk about stitching once in a while! So I'll field the last three weeks' worth.

    9/13/2004 - Do you stitch small projects one at a time that you can finish quickly, have numerous large projects going at once that you rotate, or both? How does your current system work for you and have you thought about changing it?

    My current system is a mix of both. In general, I have one (well, two at the moment) large piece going that I alternate with smaller items. I do have a rotation, which I blogged about back in April. I initially started the rotation after hearing other stitchers talk about it, and decided that it was a good way to give attention to pieces that have been languishing. So far it has done a good job of that. My initial plan when setting up my rotation was to devote 10-hour blocks to the project, although in practice I haven't been strict about that. If I'm working on a piece I've lost interest in, I'll make sure I do that 10. Smaller pieces, if I think they'll take less than about 20-25 hours, I'll go ahead and finish at one go. It's nice to get a finish in once in a while. And sometimes I'll work more than 10 on a larger piece, for whatever reason - whether I want to get to a good stopping point, or because the piece has gotten attention from family. I worked only on Last Supper during Lent - seemed apt.

    I have altered my rotation over time, mostly in the form of adding or rearranging slots. There may be times I skip a slot altogether, if I don't have a piece on-deck for it. And I do suspend it from time to time or rearrange pieces. Right now I think Last Supper is going to be my BAP for a while - DH has been asking about it. And DD wants me to go ahead and finish Floral Swirls, which would be my next slot anyway.

    I may try to sneak a couple of small pieces in as I go, since they're a lot easier to tote around the house. We'll see.

    9/6/2004 - How do you explain cross stitch to non-cross stitching people? Do they get it or do they say “Oh, right.. you do knitting then (or sewing, or needlepoint)"?

    "Stick thread in needle. Make small X's on fabric."

    I rarely have to get that detailed. I don't always do just cross-stitch, so I tend to say 'needlework' in general. And some people assume cross-stitch (often people who have relatives who do), others assume needlepoint or knitting or crochet. Now, I mostly do counted-thread, but I do crochet and have occasionally done needlepoint or knitting, so I give them credit most of the time - at least they're trying to relate it to what they know. Usually a "mostly I do cross-stitch" gets the point across without my having to resort to "make small X's on fabric". And with fellow geeks, I can say "like using graphics editors, except I use Xs made of thread instead of pixels".

    And then there's DD, who categorically calls it all "needling".

    8/30/2004 - Do you feel cross stitching requires patience?
    Sometimes, but probably no more so than most other hobbies. I think that a lot of people assume it takes a lot of patience because they can't envision themselves doing it, but if you can follow a pattern and count, you can do cross-stitch. The patience comes into play when you're doing larger pieces, and stitching in general takes longer to see results than for hobbies like painting or woodworking. And it certainly takes patience to frog.

    I don't have a lot of patience - ask anyone who's ever been near me in a long checkout line. But then cross-stitch (or any needlework, for that matter) is different, because I'm actually *doing*, not waiting.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    I love it when a plan comes together...

    So far the week is shaping up quite nicely - I made it to Curves today (it was closed last week due to Frances aftermath), I actually met with the shutter contractor and am waiting on an estimate, and I got some work done on my parish website.

    Yesterday I tried a new soda - 7-Up Plus. It's a soda/juice combination, sweetened with Splenda. It has a pleasant berry flavor, and I'm always glad to find a low-calorie soft drink I can actually drink. Most diet drinks contain aspartame, which isn't very kind to me. I was ecstatic when I discovered Diet Rite, which also contains Splenda. I wish all of the Diet Rite flavors were available down here - I have yet to find the peach or black cherry variants. Still, variety is a wonderful thing.

    I just hope the week keeps looking up!

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    Monday miscellany

    Things are certainly looking up here in Alternate Dementia. For starters, my A/C was fixed yesterday, so now I'm happily chillin'. It wasn't a cheap repair - both capacitors in our compressor had failed. One of them quite spectacularly, in fact. But they've been replaced, and the compressor had darned well work for a long time to come.

    Another piece of good news - this week a contractor is coming out to give us an estimate for storm shutters! After years of putting it off, we're finally doing it, and will be able to ride out all but the worst storms at home. (Evacuating is such a pain...)

    I managed to track down a problem in the subsection of code I'm working on - pointers are pesky little buggers. So I was able to end the workday on a good note.

    To top it all off, I'm guaranteed second in the office football pool this week! And I don't even have to resort to the desperate measure of potentially having to root for the Packers.

    Life is good for a Monday!

    Other bloggers have started posting Monday Resolutions, which is actually a decent idea. I'll be counting on all of you to keep me honest.
    Monday Resolutions - 13 Sept 2004
  • Get to Curves 3x this week
  • Finish updates to parish website
  • Help remove sections of fence from backyard

    I ran into my priest when I went to pick up DD from school, and promised him I'd get to the website this week. I certainly don't want to put myself into the position of having lied to a priest....there's probably a special circle of Hell for that.

    Speaking of which, I found a Dante's Inferno Test - determining which circle of hell you'd be going to, according to Dante. (Some people have way too much time on their hands). So just for yuks, here's what I got.

    The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
    Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
    Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Extreme
    Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
    Level 2 (Lustful)Low
    Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
    Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
    Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
    Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
    Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
    Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
    Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

    Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

    Well, that's a comforting thought. Hopefully I already have a spot reserved!
  • Sunday, September 12, 2004

    Help me I'm melllltiiiiiiiing....

    I am such a heat wuss....

    Our air conditioning is on the fritz, and I am decidedly uncomfortable. All the house windows are open, and all the ceiling fans are on, but I'm still sweating. And I hate it.

    At least we have power - some folks don't even have that - but I still miss my central air. The repairman will be coming this afternoon, and I really hope that it can be repaired today.

    In good news, however, Georgia Tech pulled out a last-minute victory against Clemson last night - what an awesome game!

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    First down!

    Football season is here!

    I watched the New England - Indianapolis game last night - great game, although I was hoping the Pats would win by more than 3...the spread was 3.5. I'm in a spread-based football pool (well, actually, I'm running it this year!), so this was not a 'win' in the pool sense for me. But it is a win for the Pats....or rather, a loss for the Dolts..er...Colts. I am not a Colts fan - haven't been since they left Baltimore in the middle of the night about 20 years ago. Although I do like Tony Dungy - I think he did wonders for Tampa Bay, and didn't get enough credit. Although I think Gruden is doing an awesome job with the Bucs as well.

    Amazing how sports loyalties seep into one's marrow from childhood. I grew up a Washington Redskins fan. And I'm pleased this year - I can actually bring myself to cheer for them again. Last year I was in the awkward position of the team I grew up loving having a coach I despised. This year, a new coach for the Skins. Or rather, an old coach - Joe Gibbs was the coach in the 80s when I was in the prime of Skins-fandom.

    Speaking of awkward positions - in college football, the FSU - Miami game is tonight. This is awkward because I dislike both teams...but they're both now in the ACC, and my college teams (Georgia Tech, and to a lesser extent, Maryland) are both ACC. The BCS makes for strange bedfellows in that I need to cheer for other ACC teams because more ACC wins improves Georgia Tech's strength of schedule.

    Determining the lesser of two 'evils' is hard. I think Miami is likely to rank higher overall in the BCS, so it would help to cheer them on.

    On the other hand, I've had quite enough of Hurricanes.

    At any rate, with the rescheduled FSU - Miami game tonight, the Miami Dolphins game rescheduled to tomorrow, and normal schedules of college and pro ball, I will have plenty of distractions to keep my mind off the possible approach of Ivan the Terrible, and my rear in front of the TV. Might even get some stitching done between downs!

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    Lady blogs the blues...

    Believe it or not, I am not blogging about hurricanes today. (And there was much rejoicing...yaaaaay). It's been a long and stressful week, and I'm feeling a bit braindead so I'm going to resort to a meme I've seen on other blogs I've read. Just to make things a little more colorful today...

    Friday Five - Colors
    1. What color are most of the clothes in your wardrobe? Is there a particular color that you would never wear? What colors do you think that you look best in (or feel best in)?

    Most of my clothing (excluding jeans) is blue - been that way since I was old enough to pick my own clothes. Non-blue colors tend to gain or lose ground - lately purple has been making a greater appearance, and black less of one, but those and green tend to be my standard colors.

    It's got to be a super-special event for me to even think about wearing orange, and to a lesser extent red or yellow. Mauve or burgundy is as close to red as I'll get.

    I've been told I look good in green, and in black - both of those being functions of having red hair and pale skin. I've also gotten compliments on royal blue.

    2. What are your favorite colors, and why? Are you inspired by them? Do you identify with them? Do you like them because of the way that they make you feel? Are there any colors that you totally dislike, and why?

    Blue, followed by purples and greens. I haven't given much thought to *why* they're my favorite colors, although they are all at the 'cool' end of the spectrum. They just seem more peaceful to me. Asking if I'm "inspired by" or "identifying with" about colors requires more neural processing time than I'm willing to give at the moment. I just like them. Gut feelings and all that.

    As for dislike, I wouldn't say that there are colors I totally dislike. Reds, yellows, oranges, and browns have their place - I love autumn foliage (and miss it terribly sometimes). But I wouldn't choose those as primary color schemes for my house, or most of my clothing.

    3. What colors are surrounding you right now? What color is the sky at the moment? What color are the walls? What color is your computer's desktop wallpaper?

    Most of my surrounding color is a light beige - office walls, desktop computer. Normally my office walls are covered with postcards primarily of landscapes or castles, but I took them all down for the hurricane. My office carpet is kind of a denim blue, which looks nice. I had an office years ago that had a dark orange carpet and orange walls - the nauseating 70s sort of look.

    The sky, last I looked, was sort of a bluish grey. There are still stormclouds in the area.

    I use Webshots for my desktop wallpaper, and most of the pictures it uses are of landscapes - primarily forests, waterfalls, and mountains, though occasionally wildflowers or castles.

    4. Would you ever try foods that are unusually colored, such as purple mashed potatoes, green ketchup, etc.? Do you prefer your foods to be regular colors?

    Sure, why not? It won't taste any different, unless it uses one of those nasty red dyes that sometimes find their way into cake icings.

    5. What is your hair color? Your eye color? Do most of your family members share these same traits? Would you ever dye your hair or try colored contacts?

    Red hair (Titian), murky blue-grey eyes that tend to vary in shade. DD has red hair as well, though her eyes are a pale bluish-grey. Neither my parents nor siblings have my coloring, but my distaff line from my grandmother on back were redheads for a number of generations. Funny how genetics works.

    I've only ever dyed my hair once, and that was an attempt to return it to a darker red than the sunbleached red I had at the time. It wasn't too noticeable a change, and I haven't bothered since then. My hair gets damaged enough by the elements, without adding chemicals to the mix.

    I might consider wearing colored contacts sometime just for S's and G's, but given my optical prescription, I have to get special contacts anyway, and colored contacts just aren't worth the expense. That, and I've been wearing glasses most of the time lately.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Life is a highway...

    Memoirs of a family on the move

    Last Wednesday evening, we were keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Frances - at the time we went to bed, it looked as if she'd give us a miss and figured we'd be able to stay home. By Thursday morning, however, her course had shifted and she was heading straight for us. We began to think more seriously about evacuating. As the 11am and 5pm updates passed with no change, and staring a cat 4 in the eye, we made the decision to go. We were already hearing traffic reports that I-95 was packed, and some motorists were running out of gas. DH gambled that the roads would be less packed during the middle of the night, so we started securing our house and made plans to leave right after the 11pm update. I refueled my car at a little knothole gas station that everyone overlooks, because it was the only place to find gas, filled up two gas cans, and by midnight we were on the move.

    DH's gamble paid off - traffic was heavier than it would normally be at that time of night, but it wasn't particularly slow. We made rather good time, even through the troublesome I-95/I-4 interchange in Daytona, and in St. Augustine we pulled into a rest area to dump the contents of the gas cans into our car to top off the tank. The rest area was VERY crowded, and every rest area we saw along the way was similarly packed.

    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. But then there was no gas to be had along I-95 in Florida, so they had quite the racket going. We didn't need to refuel, but did need to take a rest break. DH ran into someone who had left a city 30 miles north of us....7 hours earlier. I am quite grateful to DH for deciding to travel in the middle of the night.

    An hour later, we refueled in Savannah, where gas prices were more reasonable, and intended to find a rest area and crash for a while. The nearest rest area was also quite crowded, so we just pushed on for Florence, SC. We arrived about 9:30am, and promptly crashed until about dinnertime.

    The folks we met in Florence were very hospitable, but there wasn't a whole lot to see in town. It probably is as large as it is because of its proximity to both I-95 and Myrtle Beach. We did attend a nice little Catholic church - St. Anthony's, which was in the more upscale part of town. It was a rather small church compared to my home parish, but active enough to have a school and a Perpetual Adoration chapel. I found it rather telling about the sad state of vocations to the priesthood that the pastor of a tiny Deep South church is an older Filipino gentleman. Other than going to Mass Saturday evening, though, most of our time in Florence was spent watching the Weather Channel and playing cards. I had intended to grab a small ornament kit while I was packing to work on during the trip, but I discovered that I'd accidentally grabbed the remains of a kit I already completed. So I didn't stitch at all, and I wasn't really motivated to read much.

    Sunday we had initially planned to head on home, but Frances hadn't moved her big fat eye so we spent the night in Savannah. On the drive down, we passed upwards of 50 electrical utility trucks from 4 different states, all bound for Florida. One of them had even used electrical tape to write "Florida here we come". It was heartwarming to see help coming from all over the country.

    We ate at a wonderful seafood place in Savannah called Steamers - it's not an elegant place, but you get excellent seafood at good prices - I had snow crab legs and shrimp, covered with a liberal sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning. The crab legs were perfectly done - I've rarely had such an easy time removing the meat, and I was quite stuffed when I left. If you're ever in Savannah, check it out - it's near the interchange of I-95 and US 17 in Richmond Hill.

    Monday we checked out, anticipating a long drive home. Breakfast at Dennys filled us up before hitting the road, and there were a lot of returning fellow evacuees - so many that Dennys had a sign posted that Florida-bound folks should call an emergency info hotline to see if they could indeed make it home. We began the trek home around 11:30, filled up our tank in Brunswick (but not at the price-gouging Mobil station), and continued home. Traffic was heavy but not significantly slow between Savannah and St. Augustine, other than a few rubbernecking delays. Between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, traffic was almost at a crawl, but once we got past the I-4 exit it moved at a good pace again. We passed another 30 or so utility trucks and trailers bearing aid for the displaced.

    As we moved along I-95, the further south we got, the more signs of devastation we saw - mostly in the form of downed billboards and trees. From south of Daytona until home, there were very few house lights to be seen, and we weren't able to get off at our own exit because of power line work.

    We got home around 9pm, and the only visible damage was to our back fence. Our pool was murky, between dirt that had washed in, and the filter not running for several days. Nothing a little chlorine and the pool vacuum couldn't fix - it's already swimmable again. We had power, but not cable. So many other houses still don't have power, so we were indeed very fortunate.

    In general, this might have been a nice trip if not for the circumstances - between anxiety about the weather and the state of things back home, and spending four days in very close proximity between hotel rooms and the car, we were all getting a bit short-tempered and irritable. We're glad to be back home, and trying to return to some semblance of normalcy. DD and DsD are both out of school for the rest of the week, but DH and I went back to work today. It's a start.

    I've already starting making enquiries about storm shutters, and I hope that Ivan gives us a miss. I am so ready for hurricane season to be over...

    As the dust settles....

    We made it back into town Monday night, and other than losing most of our fence and a shingle or two, we had no damage. We had power and water, which puts us in better stead than many folks in the county. Our cable was still out as of my leaving for work an hour ago, but that's such a minor thing in comparison to what could have been.

    Today I'm going to start calling about storm shutters - we've put it off far too long.

    I'll post more later about the whole nomadic life, but I wanted to get a quick entry up to let all of you know that we're fine.

    Monday, September 06, 2004

    Homeward bound...

    We left Florence SC yesterday and spent the night in Savannah, GA. We're going to be going home today - we're not sure what to find other than general devastation in the area. We've gotten a heads-up that gas is not easily to be found, and parts of the county are likely to be without power for a week.

    On the way to Savannah, we passed over 50 electrical utility trucks from 4 different companies, so help is on the way, but I still expect our power to be out for a few days. So I don't know yet when my next entry will be, but I'll fill everyone in when I'm back online...

    Saturday, September 04, 2004

    Southern hospitality

    We're spending the weekend up in Florence, SC - we evacuated Thursday night, when Frances was still a category 4. We had heard reports of how horrible the traffic on I-95 was, so we waited until midnight to leave. We brought two cans of gas with us, so we didn't run out. Good thing we left so late - in southern Georgia DH ran into someone from a city 20 miles north of us...that had left 7 hours before we did. So our house is secure, and we're out of harm's way. I see on the Weather Channel that Frances is now a category 2, so we should certainly have a house to come back to, even if we take a direct hit. The main worry at this point is flooding.

    Anyway, I'm using a dialup, so I'll update when I get home. The important thing is we're safe for now.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    Should we stay or should we go...

    I've had the Clash song "Should I stay or should I go?" running through my head this afternoon. And really, it's been a question very much on the minds of folks around here, with Frances predicted to hit here as a category 4 storm. Preparations are going on at a pace that would do an ant colony proud. Home improvement stores are bringing in a steady supply of plywood, and some people have been buying themselves enough to build a Trojan horse....or at least a large wooden badger.

    The next 24 hours will determine whether we stay or go, but either way, tonight will be spent in preparation - securing the house, packing, making liberal use of the digicam for household inventory. Rather a hassle I'm not looking forward to, but one does what one must.

    Pray for all of us in the storm's path, but don't worry about me if my blog is silent for a few days. I'm sure I'll have stories to tell on my return.