Recent events

June 29th, 2008

Highlights of the past week:

Sunday
Caught in sudden and unexpected torrential rain with friends (see picture at end) and had to sit through a church talk literally* dripping wet in clothes that I now know are opaque only when dry. Everyone turned to stare at our waterlogged selves as we left.

Tuesday and Wednesday
Really good (even by this Arkansas storm snob’s standards) tree-downing thunderstorms, complete with unbelievable rain, cloud-to-ground lightning**, howling winds, sky-splitting thunder, and even hail. Fun to watch from safe dry apartment.

Wednesday
Discovered that I have a new fan (shout out to W?H, who left two comments). Very happy.

Thursday
Watched German film Lola rennt (Run Lola Run). LOVED it.

Friday
Went running with TTJ right in the middle of Friday’s severe thunderstorm complete with aforementioned wind, rain, thunder, and lightning (though no hail), sometimes through shin-deep puddles but never across bridges (we didn’t want to court the cloud-to-ground lightning flashing around us). At one point the wind was so strong and the rain so heavy that the drops literally*** stung my skin as I ran. (FREAKING. AWESOME.) Later, got first-ever facial at wonderful skin care salon. (Wicked expensive.) (Worth. Every. Penny.)

Saturday
Celebrated a friend’s birthday at Six Flags New England, a fantastic amusement/water park including multiple award-winning roller coasters, water slides, and park employees dressed in furry plush cartoon character suits (had to be indescribably fun on a 90+ degree day). Pictures to come. Very sorry to have sworn off treats until mid-July five days before Six Flags visit as Six Flags features multiple Cold Stone and Ben and Jerry’s locations, but have to fit into (as-yet-unmade) trailer trash bridesmaid dress very soon.

Just FYI to my faithful readers, this week I’m headed out to Utah for a family reunion and I am NOT (NOT. NOT. NOT.) taking my computer with me. (This does not mean, however, that you shouldn’t continue to check my weblog every day and keep my stats [which are directly proportional to my self-confidence] up.)



*I am using the term “literally” here literally, not figuratively, as has become entirely too common.

**NOT LIGHTENING–contrary to popular belief, that word contains no “e”!

***Using the term literally again.

Getting down to business

June 23rd, 2008

So every once in a while someone asks me what it is that I do, exactly – it’s something or other for Microsoft, but not directly, right? Something about editing? Yeah, basically, and generally the content I edit is quite technically advanced and meant for an audience of professional developers; there’s not much room for joking around when one small error can crash an entire company’s system. The past couple of weeks, though, I’ve been working on content for Xboxers, an entirely different audience – and some of the articles are pretty entertaining. Especially this one. Skim (not scan) through it and see if you can find the following gems that had me laughing out loud and loving my job:

If you brought friends with you, you can get right down to business and shoot them!

A monitor has been described as a free flying ball of omnipotence

Adept users can also use this technique to fling objects around.

No amount of movement or rotation can turn a warthog into a scorpion.

Every map has its own palette of objects that are carefully assembled by Bungie in accordance with mystical principles of balance and memory limitations.

Ah, to be a free flying ball of omnipotence, flinging objects around at warthogs, scorpions, and the few friends I haven’t yet shot, in accordance with mystical principles of balance – oh, and memory limitations. I can dream, can’t I?

I shall end with these sage words of wisdom, also found in this article:

Remember, correct spelling and capitalization is a sign of fine craftsmanship.

Multitasking

June 18th, 2008

I really have no business writing a post right now; I should be going to bed, like most normal people do at 2:16 AM or before. And mostly what I want to do is lie on my back in a cool room with my eyes closed and listen to some of my favorite music. As a former (and probably future) choral musician and semi-professional classical singer, I love, love, love choral and opera music. I recently created a list of all my favorite classical vocal music and when I listen to it, as I have been this evening, I become more and more excited with each successive song – thinking “Oh, I love this song – how wonderful to be able to hear it!” each time the track changes and I’m brought ear-to-ear with an old favorite. Songs like “En etsi valtaa, loistoa” and “Hine e hine” make me feel like I’m being rocked to sleep, while “What shall we do with a drunken sailor?” and “Salmo 150” and “Chorny Voran” make my heart beat with wild energy. I love the soaring high notes of the Barber “Agnus dei,” the movement of Holst’s “Nunc dimittis,” and the quiet simplicity of “Moi si j’avais commis” and “Couronée d’etoiles.”

So of course I can’t listen to this playlist while I work, because I constantly get distracted and start at least thinking, if not singing, along. I discovered a while back that I’m a terrible multitasker; I’m not very good at working on several different tasks or projects at the same time, and I prefer to completely finish one task before I start the next one. (One reason I’m not much of a phone conversationalist is that I have to shut the rest of my life down while I’m on the phone, unlike most people I know – I can’t cook, drive, or [insert other simple/menial task here] if I’m engaged in conversation.) I fear this bodes ill for my future as a mother. When a friend was visiting recently, I was amazed at her ability to pay attention to two demanding toddlers and still carry on a discussion, and doubt I’ll ever be similarly able. Of course, as I was informed on Saturday by someone to whom I am water (he is oil), women are better at multitasking* because they take care of the children, so perhaps I shall be magically endowed with this ability at some future date. Until then, I think I’ll enjoy my one-track existence. If you need me, I’ll be lying in the dark, listening to my magic playlist.

*Men are better at directions and reading maps. It’s been proven. They had to evolve that way, you see, because the men were the hunters, chasing after their quarry and potentially getting lost, because panicking animals don’t always choose the most logical way to get from point A to point B.

Be reasonable – do it my way

June 14th, 2008

So I recently had a conversation in which the other conversator offered a few suggestions for my life. I was pretty amused at the time, partly because the other conversator really doesn’t know me all that well and the wildly different ideas that we have of what constitutes happiness and success and normality in general were quite apparent in the suggestions. I came away from that conversation thinking about how funny it is when other people think they know what’s best for me – and the more convinced the other person is, the funnier it is. I’ve been thinking about the conversation fairly often over the past little while, each time shaking my head in amused incredulity.

And then it struck me that if it’s ludicrous for other people – especially those who don’t know me well – to think they know what’s best for me, maybe it’s also ludicrous for me to assume that I know what’s best for them. Maybe all the helpful suggestions for change that I make out of the charity of my heart (I just want people to be happy, you know) are actually just suggestions for ways the recipient could change to suit me better. Maybe I have no idea what other people’s faults really are, and those things I see as faults are merely things that inconvenience me personally.

Interesting thoughts, these. And kind of liberating, as well. If I don’t really know what’s best for people, I don’t have to get so upset if they’re making choices that I wouldn’t make. I can stop worrying about people and then getting bugged at them because they’re worrying me. I can relax and trust that just as my life is in God’s hands, so are theirs.

So now I’m thinking about all the free time I’ll have on my hands once I start minding my own business…

Readership

June 12th, 2008

So I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a really generic hit counter thingy upon which my vanity is sometimes built (and against which my vanity is sometimes beaten). It doesn’t tell me much, so really it just make me wonder who some of my faithful readers are. Who in the MIT nuclear science lab loves me? Who in Mumbai and New Delhi (yes, as in India), Ottawa, Tampa, New Hyde Park, Midlothian, Montpelier, and Dracut? Some people I can guess – I’m pretty sure I only have one fan in Mountain Home, Arkansas and at most three in White Hall – but some, like the reader in a midsize Washington State city where I have reason to suspect I’m not on anyone’s favorite people list and the reader in Tampere, Finland, where I only have one friend and he’s here in Cambridge at the moment, have me pleasantly puzzled. Maybe I should create a guestbook, like the one in my car. Or maybe I’ll just keep enjoying the mystery.

My sister as a cat

June 12th, 2008

My sister’s feline counterpart (she’s a crazy cat lady in training):

cat

Heat waving hello

June 9th, 2008

As those of you who live in Boston know from experience and as some of you may have heard, it is freaking HOT here in New England at the moment. Like, WAY hot. Intense hot. Clothes-are-soaked-after-a-relatively-short-walk hot. And as even casual acquaintances know, I love cold weather; the opposite is true for the opposite end of the temperature spectrum. But the air conditioners* are all installed and working, some nightswimming is on the docket, and (thank goodness) I don’t have to go anywhere. So it doesn’t matter too much that although the forecast high for today was 88 degrees (I was looking forward to cooler temperatures), the actual temperature reading at 12:25 PM was 97. (Ninety-seven.) (NINETY-SEVEN.)

And at least my hair has started behaving perfectly again. It had a few disciplinary problems the first few days back from Arkansas. I had to threaten it with cheap conditioner.

*The wannabe Spartan/environmentalist/cheapskate** in me thinks that running air conditioners is cheating and/or wasteful and/or for the weak. I’m working on being OK with sitting in an air-conditioned room while there are starving people in the world but I’m feeling vaguely guilty and wondering how much energy I’ll be wasting and what more important thing the energy could be used for. And how much our electric bill is going to jump. But I’m not, of course, feeling quite guilty enough to sleep without my a/c tonight. Sigh.

**Actually, the cheapskate isn’t such a wannabe.

Literature

June 4th, 2008

So I stayed up waaaaaay late finishing Roderick Hudson last night; it was an enjoyable book and I wanted to know how it would end. I didn’t much care for Roderick, of course, and some events – especially at the end of the novel – seemed a bit contrived (though I can see why Henry James wanted the events to unfold the way they did). But overall it’s a thought-provoking read, and even as I feel frustrated with Rowland for allowing Roderick the liberties he does, and annoyed with Roderick for taking as a given (correctly, unfortunately) that those around him will tolerate and even encourage his self-obsessed behavior, I know that the two characters represent different sides of the same person and I see myself very much reflected in both. One take-away is to figure out how to incorporate the good qualities of these characters and avoid the bad.

As I was updating my Books read – 2008 page I thought about another book that I started, and made it 230/396 through, earlier this year: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Even though I generally love literature that others might find depressing (Villette, The Remains of the Day), this book is just too much for me at the moment. The horrors and poverty and violence and filth and inhumanity and desperation are relentless; even more affecting is the idea that similar conditions exist today while I forge ahead with my sometimes frivolous existence. I do OK with heartbroken upper- or middle-class Europeans who nurse their emotional wounds in well-ordered and tidy manor houses; it seems I don’t do as well with people faced with questions of actual survival in less-than-picturesque circumstances.