Monthly Archives: October 2005

There they are, a hundred little bags full of toys and candy, ready to thrill the neighborhood tots. I think of this year as a "primer". Sure, I have Deadlina up in the window, but all in all, my decorations are pretty lame. The Spousal Unit groused that he couldn't believe he was helping me make treats for the kiddies. I explained to him that they aren't treats, they're lures. Word will get 'round, and next year, dozens and dozens of little darlings will flock to our house, and we'll scare the crap out of them.

A house nearby already has it down pat. I was lamenting the lack of a yardhaunt directory, but I discovered one of the coolest--no, the coolest--display I have ever seen, just a block away.

They have an incredible place to begin with: a rambling victorian surrounded by gardens. And they've done wonders with it. For Halloween, they've created enormous scarecrow sculptures from whitewashed wood, and topped them with jack-o-lantern heads. In addition, they've dotted the yard with small ceramic jack-o-lanterns (at least one of them is a potter). Here's a daytime picture below. I've chosen this one not because those are the spookiest sculptures (those are on the other side of the yard), but because it gives some idea of how they've distributed the little lanterns.

Even there, you can't see them well. When can you see them? At night. Ohmygosh, at night. Every single one of them is lit, and it's incredibly creepy. If you are near the area, I highly recommend you drop by. Long Street is one block south of the intersection of SE Holgate and 52nd. Go west on Long for about a little over a block, and it's on your left.

Happy haunting!

I've been playing with LibraryThing. Entering our modest library gave me something to do while I recuperated. Here's my widget:

There you can see what I'm reading right now. How can I be reading four books at once*?

Well, there's the tub book (Culture of Fear), the bus book (Systemantics), the treadmill audio book (The Historian), and the book that wanders from room to room (The End of Faith).

I suppose I could make another widget for stuff I've recently finished:

LibraryThing has pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a library tracker, especially ease of use. I've tried to track various things with various tools, most recently Mediachest, but they've all been awkward and difficult to keep up. In fact, my track record is so bad that I've only paid for a year of LibraryThing. If we're still using it this time next year, I'll go for the lifetime membership, which is very reasonable at $25. Betcha Google has snapped them up by then.

*To those reading this entry in archives: the widget will probalby show different books. At least I hope it will.

One of the worst things about being sick is that you often can't think straight enough to take care of yourself adequately. A couple years ago I had an idea about that. I had just gotten over a nasty cold, and had a clear memory of the things that did and didn't work. You know, the stuff you always forget the next time you're sick. So I wrote a simple list on a 3x5 card, put it in an envelope marked COLD AND FLU, and stuffed that envelope in the same cupboard where we keep drugs.

The only flaw is remembering to look at it, as it's kind of up against the side of the cupboard, and not as easy to spot as it should be. I was almost a day into this cold before the Spousal Unit grabbed it. Therein was the fact that the drugs I'd already bought in desperation didn't work--I could have avoided learning that lesson again!--and a short list of what did work. Hot liquids, hot showers, and a half-dozen other tips that I'm now implementing. I feel a lot better today. [edit: except for the masses of typos and errors I've had to correct in this post because I'm still a bit addled.]

It's in the same family of Merlin's habit of making lists before you need them. Prepare now, while you have the leisure to do so, and you'll thank yourself later.

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  1. Silly theme for a Halloween costume party: costumes you have to explain. Obscure historical and literary references. That character in that movie that only you liked. Bad puns.

  2. A wonderful interview with George Takei, wherein he talks about Arnold, internment camps, Richard Burton, and coming out.
  3. Murphy's Law of Sinuses: if you accidentally buy the scratchy off-brand tissue, everyone in the house will get a cold.

  1. Atrios is right, Murder by Death does indeed make sweet, sweet music. I realized today that I'm in the music heaven I always wished for. I use YMU to listen to at least four new artists a day (that's when I'm listening to albums instead of individual songs) when I'm in the mood. Yummy, yummy music. I eat and eat.

  2. My introduction to the podcast, it seems, is a poultrycast. I was wonderful to hear the dulcet tones of a dear web-friend read his delightfully-written, and long-welcome, post. "Whenever are you going to utilize our guestroom?" I wail forlornly.
  3. I had a dream last night about a movie, and in the dream I woke up and carefully remembered the details so I could blog it. When I really woke up, I decided that my dreams are more boring than I dream them to be.

Oops, found some of this in my drafts file.

  1. Distractions, wide and narrow. This has inspired me to remove several regular bookmarks (including, ironically, the site where I got the link), clean up my homepage, and abandon some things. I love de-cluttering, and e-clutter is just as burdensome as meatworld clutter.
  2. Oooh! My first issue of Video Watchdog just arrived in the mail! *drools*
  3. Speaking of sugar-free treats, the sugar-free taffy from The Candy Basket is super. Sadly, I can't find a web presence for them. They probably have one, but it's damned hard to find. If you're local, the phone book should do the trick.
  4. I find as I get healthier, I have more time to do more things for my health. A non-vicious circle, if you will. So lately I've been spending a lot of time with the ol' hand sanitizer. And a lot of time enduring an itchy nose without touching it. Of course, after riding to Gresham to get some dental work done, and seeing not one, but two fucking ingrates spit inside the train, I'm confident my paranoia is justified. This is why we can' know.
  5. NP: Ses Plus Belles Chansons, Amalia Rodrigues. I particularly love her rendition of Aranuez Mon Amour, and went poking around for a little more information. I do wonder how, if the lyrics were written in 1967, the sheet music is copyright 1959.

On our work blog, we've begun a category called "Modest Proposals" (thanks, Rory!) where we list thing things we are learning about managing. I kicked it off today with a note about managing email:

Normally, I have one email in my inbox. No, really.

Every morning, I come in and glance at a small post-it stuck to my monitor (and I'm not the only one, though I think I do it differently) that holds a short list of the things I do every morning:

  • Email

  • Helpdesk
  • Newsgroups
  • Inbox
  • Tada list
  • Projects

When I hit that first item, I go to Lotus Notes, mark everything in my mailbox unread, and go through it note by note. If I can handle it in ten minutes or less, I just do it. That clears out most things. If it's information on something pending, it goes in a Waiting folder. If it's something I must keep, it gets filed. If it's something that's going to take a while, it gets transferred to my task system. This leaves my mailbox uncluttered so I can handle things more easily throughout the day.

But what about that last email? It's kittens. Yeah, I admit it. Kittens. I don't remember where I got the idea, but I suspect it was this wonderful business writer. The trick is you keep a motivational email at the end of your mailbox. A picture of your kids, your pets, a beautiful sunset, or even kittens. It's difficult to sell this idea, it's something that must be experienced. When I get to the end of my mailbox, the final motivational email makes it very clear I've done so--it's a clear demarcation that means I can stop going through email and move on to the next thing on my list, and it's a stress-buster as well. I've had a motivational email at the bottom of my mailbox for over a year now, and I can say with confidence that it's very effective.

So, in a nutshell:

It's easier to keep up with email than it is to catch up. Once a day, clear everything out. A clutter-free mailbox is much, much easier to deal with. And get some kittens.

  1. Apparently there is no such thing as sugar-free candy corn.

  2. I like my teeth. This statement bears no relation to the above statement. I just like 'em. *gnash* *gnash*
  3. I was eating a yummy pile of acorn squash just now, and I found myself pushing it toward the center of the dish with my fork...building it up...fluting the sides...
  4. What are your favorite quaint curses? Gosh, golly, shuckeedarn, heavens ta' bitsy and murgatroid, I love these things.
  5. Cici is a heartbreaker.

I noticed Geek Chic is no longer on the front tables at Borders. I didn't buy it--I thought the idea faintly ridiculous. Geeks aren't supposed to be chic--that's why they're called "geeks". I did open it a few times and found it incomprehensible. Apparently geeks don't like paragraphs, because the book is formatted as a lifestyle "tree" that contains items like "Radiohead" and "iPod". Tell you what. Here's how to be a geek in three easy steps:

  1. Wear rectangular glasses with black plastic frames.

  2. Liberally quote or refer to the movies Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Princess Bride, and Office Space.
  3. Understand that "rolling a character" does not mean stealing the wallet of an eccentric person.

There, you're a geek. And you didn't even have to learn a programming language.


  1. Bloglines now has hotkeys. I didn't think much about it until I started using them. I had no idea how much time and brain power I was wasting by using my mouse. The hotkeys are great.

  2. We are watching season 1 of Battlestar Galactica on DVD, and enjoying it very much. One thing I find bothersome: their rituals are too like ours. They have an entirely different history, why would they have military sashes, 21-gun salutes at funerals, and a tri-folded flag on a coffin? It looks like an obvious ploy to save on production costs by reducing custom props. It also looks lazy.
  3. The folder view bug in XP is infuriating. I've been able to fix it at home, and on my old work computer, but not on the new work computer. If you know a fix besides the BagMRU Size, I'm listening.
  4. On August 18, 2005, I gave up sugar. I still have the occasional dessert when we go out to eat, but the rest is gone. I have less sugar in a month than I used to have in a day--a lot less. No, I'm serious (yeah, I know my friends are agog right now). We have sugar-free sweets around, but I find I don't even crave them, and they're fine as a treat once in a while. Now that I'm not tanked up all the time, the contrast when I do have a dessert is striking. I feel like crap for a day afterwards, and have to really weigh the ROI. Usually, I'd rather feel good.
  5. Number two of three major changes is exercise. It's been harder to stay regular. It's easier to avoid an action than to take one. But keep up, for the most part, I have. It's like happy butterflies and puppies. Exercise has had a positive influence on everything in my life. Okay, except for the chafing, but that is dealable.
  6. Number three is sleep. I finally became accustomed to my magic machine, and am getting enough sleep for the first time in my life. I don't know how to describe the fog lifting after 40 years of sleep deprivation. It's like my brain is finally on.