Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tales of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

I just fell into a bit of a writing funk. And I was always on my iPhone and to be quite honest there isn't a way to backtrack and edit your posts after they've reached a certain length when you're using Blogger in Safari on an iPhone--that I know of. So please pipe up and correct me if I'm wrong. I'd love to be wrong. The perfectionist in me likes to edit. Combine that with the fact that I haven't really hit the rack before midnight in several weeks and you probably get the picture.

What have I been doing exactly? Everything and nothing. Work, study, play. In equal measure I guess, but in general LIVING. And it feels really, really good. I've seen a couple movies. I went to see my friend and his jazz band play at a wine bar in town and enjoyed that immensely. I took Squib to the zoo. I survived the onslaught of July birthday week and the accompanying eBay fest. I made the first of two turf-planting expeditions and will make the second one today. I got the network converted to Windows 7 and all the machines are now in agreement and the bugs have been worked out. A little more tweaking of the firewall and I'll have 100% remote access to all our machines/workstations/servers. This will give me a certain amount of freedom and the rest of the company a greater degree of security and service. I took Squib in for some testing prior to his first year of school (that boy is STILL growing--amazing). He was "precious." And he knew it. Every time someone calls him "precious" a brain cell dies. I swear it. I've been working on some music to do with Bob L. It should be fun. He picked something really challenging. Yay! There was a week of VBS in there somewhere, a lot of subbing on Sundays for other people. Texting back and forth with Jess because it really is just the pits that my BFF is in New York. Hanging out with Attrition and watching movies, seasons of TV that I miss b/c we have no cable, etc. Code punching, laundry washing, google earthing, GRE studying, presentation editing...and editing...and editing...and editing, reading stuff, "working" things when they're "broke," hauling furniture, feeding Beanstalk's Andre Rieu appetite (truly), bearing the brunt of some things, ducking the flak from others, laughing myself silly at most things, and in general enjoying all the people-watching.

So you see...LIFE! It can be exhausting, but always worth it. I really don't have it in me to stand on the sidelines. I'll tell you my favorite part of this last week...well, one of my favorite parts...was sitting with friends listening to great music and having great conversation (though I'd rather listen mostly) and soaking up the ambiance. It was like a little taste of travelling again. Something I've not done in so long. Going to a new place. Seeing new things. Meeting new people. Starting new conversations. Making new discoveries. It's like a door into another world. It's a risk, but one worth taking I think. I am not content to settle into a habitual life where each day is like the next with nothing ventured. It would be like marking time until I died. Burying my talents for fear that someone might steal them. I would only ever have what I started out with--maybe not even that. Instead I take them and invest them, risk them, put them out there in hopes that they are returned tenfold.

I gotta run. Literally.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zoo Day

After much debate about the security of cages and responsibilities of zookeepers, Dad and I finally packed Squib into the car today and headed for the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin. It was Squib's first trip to a zoo and his first ride on a train, so he was levitating the entire time. It was wonderful! You should always take an excited kid with you to the zoo. It makes it twice the fun. Ok, three times.

The zoo has somewhere around seven hundred animals. It's heavy on birds, turtles/tortoises, and reptiles. It has a great African exhibit with an underwater viewing deck for the hippos (if they are accommodating). The alligators were HUGE and "very stary" and I missed them while I was buying a map so I had to see them alone 'cause Squib didn't want to walk by them a second time. I second the "very stary" vote.

It was completely shaded and well organized. If you've got a five-year-old it's about all they can handle in one day. I would have spent more time seeing each animal, but I I like to see, watch, photograph, and write about. Squib is not there yet.

After two train rides, Squib said, "I think I'm ready to go home now, Momma."

Perfect timing.
Pictures tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What A Week!

In short, it was a blast. I taught the 5th and 6th grade class at our church's Bible day camp and we had a great time. Sometimes it was like corralling eleven Energizer bunnies. Or nailing Jell-O to a tree. Other times, we were having top notch theological discussions that would make some adults twitch. OK, most adults. Fabulous kids. Great thinkers. And very serious about water fights. I was nearly drowned. All in good fun--and I quite deserved it after hunting one student down and pouring a bucket of water over his head (which was the point of the exercise). It was repayed to me in kind tenfold (at least).

Squib was also there the last two days. Had I known he'd enjoy it so much, I'd have taken him the whole week. When his class got up to do their little song for the parents, he immediately went AWOL behind the stage decorations. He returned with a fistful of hay and proceeded to hop around (not swishing his tail like a horse as the song suggested). This is a new phase in Squib behavior. Not malicious intent or anything, but he definitely has his own agenda. He keeps it private and borrows heavily from the George W. Bush "shock and awe" school of demonstration. Lovely. What a proud Mommy I am. I sooooooo deserve him.

And finally! You will have no idea what I'm talking about, but the Exectutive Summary has been written. Buddy finished it today while Squib and I were in our post-bible camp coma. Yay! I am terrified to edit the darn thing because it's been such a long and hard time coming. But edit I shall. With great mercy and probably more latitude than usual. I am growing soft. But out the hyphens shall go! Be warned!

Then, coming up Sunday, Watershed Week! The boys turn five and eight! Where does the time go? Squib starts school in the fall. I am sooo weepy about that. My baby! It is so true, though, he will always be my baby!

Lotsa cake to make tomorrow! Red Earth Cake (it's a food group) in the shape of Thomas the Tank Engine--not so sure how I'm gonna pull that off.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Return to Old Things

From the time I exited the womb, there was a pattern to life. There was a way we (and by we I mean my family) approached academic pursuits. There was a way we approached relationships. There was a way we approached play. There was a way we approached spiritual things, finances, etc. There was a way for all things...

It was not a rut by any stretch of the imagination. It was more like a general philosophy of life. First, everything was prioritized. That didn't necessarily mean that #9 on the list automatically always came after #2. It meant that we thought long and hard about what was really important overall and at the moment. We considered our options and made choices based on what was important to us and where we were versus where we wanted to be. Second, it was generally assumed that anything worth doing was worth doing well. I know I later learned to take this too far and eventually was able to suck the fun out of just about anything. Now, though, I understand balance better (not best) and I can see that some things are a work-in-progress while other things should be done well because it is well within my ability to do so. Third, once a committment was made it was kept. Period. Fourth, we were careful what we exposed ourselves to--this is the one I've been thinking about most lately.

Prioritizing isn't difficult for me. In fact, I can be rather cold and calculating about that one and often have to let go of it a little bit. Doing the things I committ to doing well is something I've come back around to lately. I wasn't running about willy-nilly doing things half-assed. Just over-committing and giving things just enough attention to be well done, but not well-remembered (by me). As for what I expose myself to...well I watch, lisen to, and read anything and everything. And perhaps I should. But perhaps I shouldn't.

I went to a book study last night that reminded me that I had gotten away from studying things because I WANTED TO. Yes, I am in school. That is because I want to. But, it is also because I HAVE TO.  This was different. It was thought-provoking, moving, challenging, altering, and real. Questions were asked that I didn't have good answers to. I should have. We were asked to discuss things that are pretty relevant to daily life and I found that on some issues I knew next to nothing. Hmmmm...


So, a return to old things. First, I'm simplifying. I'm removing from my life some superfluous things that are of no consequence in the grand scheme of things. Second, in their place I am adding back things that I once used to do as a matter of fact that ARE of consequence in the grand scheme of things.

Let's see where it leads...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Peaceful, Easy Feelin


All is not perfect. Things are still ragged at the seams. But a full day was met head-on with success. Everything that could get done was done. One more ugly circumstance reared it's head, but an even bigger one has gone by the wayside. So, all in all, you'd have to call it a win for the day.

Heck, UPS made a delivery and I didn't have to do the 100 yard dash to catch the truck! I loaded new operating systems on new hard drives in two computers without event. It was downright spooky. I'll take it!

My best friend had a really rotten day and I would fly to New York and change that right this second if I could. I really would, J. If you're reading this, know I am thinking about you and love you and really wish I could undo the events of today. But I can't. Grrrr.

Still, life does go on. We learn things and sometimes the days that mean the most aren't the big watershed moments in our lives, but the well-lived days in between that can only be taken one at a time.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Totally Missed It!

The first anniversary of my blog passed and I barely noticed! I had planned on continuing my NaBloPoMo goal of posting each day during July, but then I lost **another** hard drive on Saturday (as you may have read) and Squib had a firework-induced meltdown on Sunday. He was terrified. And by the time his dad came to rescue him from what was, admittedly, the most explosive 4th of my thirty-five year history here, I was exhausted and when I made it to the computer it was after midnight and already July 5. Humph.

Since then, I have been reading my entries and considering where to take all this. I am still considering. What's interesting is that I have actually been enjoying what I wrote. I like me. I find me interesting. I would read me. And that's a good thing. A great thing. Almost a shocking thing. Something worth reading. What a surprise.

And tonight I'm gonna leave it at that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

It's a phrase I heard once. It was part of a monologue/poem (Dylan Thomas--see Merriwether's comment below--thanx!) that I can't scrape up right this instant or even find the correct reference to. I wrote it down in a journal that has been gathering dust in the boys' bedroom. I don't normally condone rage. In fact rage, in and of itself, isn't usually productive. Used in this sense, though, it has another meaning. A use, in fact.

In my world I see the light dying left and right. People all around me are fighting a battle against the darkness and they even name it thus specifically. Some have named it directly. "Darkness." Others call it cancer, illness, death, handicap, divorce, separation, infidelity, marital problems, affairs, depression, anxiety, addiction, unemployment, salary cuts, disagreements, fighting, interpersonal struggles, pettiness, hatred, scorn, judgement, ignorance, racism, poverty, or just plain old pain (physical or mental). And that is the short list. Take a look at the short list. You'll find enough rage there to power a large city until the year 5000 if we could find a way to harness it, couldn't you? It tells me something. We were made for that kind of passion. Were we made for that kind of rage? Perhaps. But not to due harm. Not originally.

We were made to rage against the dying of the light. We were made to persevere. We cannot do it alone, but we were created to do whatever we must to survive and we were created to muster our passions to fight. Fight for what is good and right and necessary to end the reign of darkness first in our own lives and then in the lives of others. The difficult thing is that this battle doesn't look like the battles we are used to fighting--WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, etc. But it takes more concentrated effort, involves more risk, and has the potential for world-wide casualties. There is a timeline and there is a distinct enemy. The overall war has been won, but the real battles are being fought to determine what I call the "collateral damage."

For eight years, I've felt buried up to my eyeballs in the sludge of darkness. Of the twenty-six issues listed above, at least twenty-one have applied to me--some at least twice. At the very least. For the first two years of this era I call "The Great Depression" (because it was), I was "fine" (I hope you know what that really means). And then I wasn't. It REALLY wasn't. In short, a nose dive of epic proportions. I went from being a highly educated, well-mannered housewife who was active in her local church. A believer. A Christian. To....well....still highly educated, still a Christian, but very short on belief and activity. There were reasons for it. Big reasons. Some were under my control. Some were not. Long and short of it was that the darkness got to me. And it's damn hard to escape once the darkness has hold of you. Even if you're definitely fighting for the light.

But it can be done. This month is an important landmark for me. About three years ago, something happened that forced a change. I had a decision to make. Get my stuff together, scrape my life up off the highway where it had been splattered by a Mack truck or move on. And by move on, I mean leave everyone behind and MOVE ON. I wanted (and still want at times) to move on. It always has been and always will be true that no one will understand the events of the past eight years as I see them. That's the truth of experiencing darkness. There isn't another human being alive (or dead for that matter) that can see it through your eyes. It isn't an excuse, just an observation. They can only see it from their perspective. And if you expect their help, you have to accept it from their perspective whether or not you agree with it. You have to listen to their opinions about you, your kids, your ex, your choices. If you live in the same house with them, you have to listen to them tell their friends all about it on the phone. You see it in their email that they forget to close when they ask you to work on their computer. It slips out of their mouth when they aren't thinking and they try to say "I was only kidding," but it's a subject no one in their right mind would ever kid about. You overhear it when they think you can't hear them through the bedroom door or the porch windows. That can be a lot to carry around. You will have to carry it around the rest of your life. You will have to come to grips with the fact that what they've told you to your face is not really how they feel behind closed doors.

Sometimes people are far more willing to discuss the bad than the good. Sometimes when you're caught in that battle with the darkness it's easier to hear the bad. So if you want to see the good in yourself then YOU are going to have to go looking for it because no one else is going to do it for you. I'm guilty of blog is hardly ever sweetness and light. What a pity because that's hardly ever a good sample of how I think all the time. Weird. In short, this month proves to me that I really can do what I put my mind to. And I can do it in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Yay me!! I did it.

I did it with very little human support (Buddy and Attrition only). I did it when some people told me I would fail. I definitely did it without any encouragement. I did it with A LOT of discouragement. All the mental wrestling and cheer leading was mine and mine alone. I saw the head shaking, heard the name-calling, and the discussions in low tones and I did it anyway. Was there rage? Yes there was. A lot of it. Very much rage against many people who seemed to think that there was no reason for me to succeed. Call it righteous anger. Anger towards darkness in it's most elemental form. Often I thought I would fail just because there were people who wanted me to (not many, but then it doesn't always take many does it). I felt that helpless. For years. But that gave me focus. Something to fight against. Opposition for my moral compass, I guess. And suddenly, it was no longer anger but peace.

For the first time in a long time I had that sense of being able to look at something and say this...this right here is not right. It shouldn't be. Someone should do something. And the thought crossed my mind that maybe that someone should be me. Because it's all fine and good to use the word "someone," but never to actually be that someone is kind of cheating. It's our way of shovelling our real job here off onto humanity in general and avoiding our true responsibility. We're actually responsible for the light while we're here. It's our job to help bring it. Carry it. Nurture it. We want the luxury of saying "that's not right" or "someone should do something" with out actually doing anything to make it right.

What good is the darkness if you learn nothing from it? It's going to come. It gets around to everyone sooner or later. Usually sooner. And you pretty much have three choices. You can let it mow you over flat and never get up again. You can let it hit you and give in to it--there are more ways of doing this than you can shake a stick at. Sneaky stuff, that darkness. Or, you can rage against the dying of the light. I'm pretty sure there's no clean way of doing this. There's no way of doing it without "getting it on you," but as long as you believe and persevere I am certain that the darkness cannot overcome the light

Very sure.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Epic Fails

New spiffy laptop died again today. I say again because I have repaired the  thing four times since I chased the UPS truck down the street to get it off the truck. And by repair I mean totally restore the operating system to the original factory settings. No, my backup disks did not help. The recovery disk set did not work and even though I personally made a point of establishing "last known good configuration"s, well they were never actually saved. Makes me . For those of you without emoji's, that's mad x 9. You don't want to hear or read the actual translation to English so my emoji's are sparing you the "local color." You can't see them unless you are reading this via an emoji-apped device. Must be an iSomething. Sorry, but I need my emoji's right now.

It's an ASUS laptop. They make excellent motherboards--I put them in all the workstations, desktops, netserver, and the server we built (OK, rebuilt). You could safely say I'm their  to the tune of several thousand dollars. So the price was right and the specs were awesome and I now have ANOTHER large, silicon desk Don't think I wouldn't do it, either. Question is, what to shoot it with? Whole other post there. Actually two whole posts there.

Post One: Before: What to Shoot My Laptop With and Why.
Post Two: After: Attrition and Scat Go Laptop Hunting.

Fortunately, there is a smidgen of hope. This plasticated LED coaster has a warranty and since it has basically never worked--well, OK, it does great as long as you don't put any more than say 50 M of data on that 500 G hard drive--I want a brand spanking new one.

So I called and asked for that very thing. Had to go through the looooong list of steps (again) to prove it wasn't working. The tech services guy didn't really listen to what I was telling him AND he kept calling me "honey" which infuriates me when it really means "you poor little ignorant woman." I was nice. Took every inch of self-control I had. But I was nice. And I fought the urge to call him "dear." But when he asked if I was satisfied with my service, I did say, "no." Budy's eyebrows shot up in the air and I think he was about to take away my phone, but I didn't call anyone an asshat until I hung up.

If the tech guy had been listening, I could have saved everyone some trouble. I have a copy of Windows 7 that I know to be good. I just needed to know if my warranty would still be good if I loaded a different copy of Win 7 from the one it came with. I know the problem is the operating system or the hard drive. If it's the OS, I can fix that here. I do it all the time. But I need the warranty to keep. Easy enough question. Can I or can't I?


See? Emoji's are therapeutic (if you have an iPhone). Only one infraction of the moral code.

Part of what I am calling "the major malfunction" is the inability to backup data after a certain point. So here I am at 3 am  trying to eke out that last document plus my iTunes backup which is an esoteric thing at best. There are all sorts of limitations on how you transfer your iTunes files and the major one is you can only download from phone to computer once. There are others and the long and short of it is that my music collection (my favorite thing in the world) is now spread over three auxiliary drives and four computers at two different houses and one office like so many Easter eggs 'cause I just never knew when this thing would crap out again.

How psychotic!! It takes at least a week to get all my backups (music and data) synced on one machine again...then it dies before I can make a single, coherent copy. Every. Last. Time. For. The. Last. Two. Months.

So once again I have to sing the praises of the almighty Apple iPhone for continuously saving my keester while I'm without laptop. Singing the praises of Apple just chafes on general principle. This blasted thing does it all and I'm not having much trouble rationalizing the upgrade to iPhone 4 with as much memory as I can afford (OK now that the have to have that "bumper" case thing, yeah, problem there--I'll wait). I'm already running the software on my 3G and it's slick. Server maintenance and virtual terminal services take care of network sysadmin stuff. You'd be surprised what you can do WITHOUT the Office suite these days. I have only two complaints. First, low battery life!!  It's a power hog. That and it can't spell for . Lately it has changed "not" to "mot" every time. "Disk" becomes "Fisk" with a capital "F." Who's that? It also changes "desktop" to "despot" and you gotta wonder where it's comin' from on that one. I've know a few despotic desktops in my day. The last indignity of spellhelp is that it keeps changing "him" to "Jim" which is my ex's name. That's. Just. Weird.

The iPhone 4 allows for multitasking which solves my third and final issue. So, yeah, I'm ing for Apple as well. Just the phones, though!! I'd be toast without mine. But even the iPad is starting to look appetizing. (Did I just say that out loud??!?)

We'll see what ASUS can do for me on the laptop front. Hopefully it will be  and not . I hate when that happens. And I've made it 38 years without calling someone an asshat to their face. What if it kinda leaked out on the poor phone guy? Just sitting over there in India working his butt off at a job that he loves and really, really needs (we had our software branch there--great people, tough lives) and totally not expecting a nutso sysadmin lady. Maybe he doesn't know what an asshat is? Let's hope.

I already beat the hooey out of some folks in Turf Wars to blow off steam. That IS the point of the game, but today I REALLY liked it. I intend to like it MORE later on today. And then they complained in my comments about me fighting them (which is the point of the game). Meh.

Me before computers:  (angel)
Me after computers:  (devil)

It can happen to you.

P.S. After going to bed at 5 a.m. totally foiled again, I remembered another problem. Proprietary information. This has been an ongoing theme in Scat family history since about 1994 for various reasons. Things being what they are and me doing some of the things I do, I have eyes-only stuff on that machine and am bound by confidentiality agreements with teeth--the oil business is worse than the government ever thought of being. I'm supposed to destroy all the proprietary junk before any outside parties see the machine. Great. So here I am again. Trying to format an unresponsive hard drive and wondering what kind of pickle I'm in if I can't send it to be repaired because of the type of consulting work I do. Somewhere, somehow, a lawyer is laughing his or her head off. When I called ASUS, they asked that I format the hard drive if possible before shipping. They had no answer for "What if I can't?"

Lawyers. And Teeth. Bleh.

P.P.S. That thing I wrote about being able to curse in other languages more forgiveably would come in handy right about now as I try NOT to appear like a sailor in the mouth department.

Addendum: Confidentiality issues apparently nullify warranties. So...had to buy a new hard drive. Mrrrfffff.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Plonker! A General Discussion of Household Languages

Isn't that a great term? You plonker!! If only I had the accent to pull it off, then I could use "tosser," "bugger," and "bloody" with equal effect. My US friends/coworkers/co-students don't seem to mind those words so much as they would others. And, yes, I did ask them. I ask about almost everything. Don't get me wrong, I do not go around calling people names. I'm probably the most quiet and polite person you'll ever meet. Still, the English/Scottish/Irish have some of the greatest turns of phrase for being the opposite of quiet and polite. On occasion, and usually just in my head or in my car, I find I need phrases like that. Most of the Americans I asked said they wouldn't be offended in the least if such terms of non-endearment were used to their face. Even my mother concurred--and it's quite a feat to keep from offending my mother! Just think of it: the therapeutic value of having cursed an English blue streak without all the collateral emotional damage.

This language/accent revelation came to me (at first) as I was watching an episode of Lie To Me with Booger--Attrition is really a better sounding name for him though its connotations are, well, rough--and we got to talking about all the phraseology we loved in the English English language (and it's near island influences). We came up with quite a list.

I'd love to stroll into our country bumpkin bank and say, "I keep trying to order computer parts online with my business debit, but you lot keep putting a hold on each transaction until I call you or show up personally. Was atta 'bout? "You lot" is another fave of mine. It is especially effective when referring to a group of tossers or plonkers. That the bank has presented itself as a willing target for initial testing runs is, well, serendipitous.

There are other good words they use often, like "love." Everyone gets called "love." I don't think I'd need the grammatically incorrect ones like "me" for "my" or "nuffin" for "nothing" or "fing" for "thing." Those are mostly regional dialects and I'm not really in it to identify with a subset of the population.

The point is, it would be like having the ability to speak a second language without actually having to learn an entire second language (or third-and-a-half).

My Spanish has done NOTHING for me. Well, I shouldn't be so hasty. I live in Texas. Every third person speaks Spanish and I do understand them fluently. Replying fluently (especially with technical language) is another matter, but I can generally make my point and/or order dinner and shop. My ability to sign is incredibly functional--that was totally surprising--I do translate on occasion for the deaf in our community, but most everyone in the house that once signed now reads lips or has adaptive devices and so signing is reserved for **special** occasions. Plus, it is not an expressive outlet for me at all.

Beanstalk signs when he is angry. It's humorous. Big, wide, flailing signs that say, "I ALREADY WENT TO THE POTTY!!!!!!" as dramatically as possible. Squib will make signs when he is patronizing me with small, curt motions saying: "More, little girl." He acts as if I cannot see it. That is not so humorous. EVERYONE signs when they need to curse and we sign across rooms when speaking out loud would be rude or an interruption. I used to consider that an interruption, but no one really notices if you keep your signs efficient and small and as long as they do not know sign language themselves. Bizarre what people don't notice right under their noses. Sometimes we must just look like we've got an itch we just can't scratch. Especially when finger-spelling.

Squib's school sent a "Home Language Survey" to us (the second thing that prompted this entry). I have yet to decide how to answer it. I am certain I will just put "English" and send it back with them none the wiser for not recognizing sign language as a "real" language. Answering "English," however, will not help his teacher understand his tendency to look like a third base coach during the World Series.


P.S. I made it through June!!!! One post every day! Let's see if I can make it through July......(NOTE: July didn't exactly happen, now, did it? Ha!)