Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sappy Year End Post

We're to the end of another year and everyone is writing their best or worst lists, or their recaps, or their resolutions, and who am I to break with the pattern?

My best reading list is pretty easy:
  • The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick -- I read this at the end of last year, but it was good enough to count for two! I'm eagerly awaiting The Scarlet Lion because John Marshal has ... well... suffice to say that John Marshal is an attractive protagonist. *g*
  • An unpublished work called the Art of Effective Dreaming by Gillian Polack, which, upon publication (by me) will make me very proud and happy in ways that I cannot describe.
  • An unnamed book by an unnamed Scottish author whose name will not be 'un' if/when she signs the contract I'm working on (please God; let her do it; her stuff is that good).
  • Brian Wainwright's emails -- which have nothing whatsoever to do with his books, but which are guaranteed joys to read. Brian may well be the most charming man on the planet.
My worst list is even easier: everything else.

And now for the recap...

In some ways, I had a pretty shitty year, although come to think of it, last year was pretty shitty as well, so 2006 doesn't really stand out all that much. The funny thing is that for all the misery I've endured this year, I have to say that, after all, life is good and I am glad to find it so. In reality, I've learned a lot this year. If I were conventional, at this point I would wax poetic about love and friends and the various delights to be found in life, but seeing as how I'm not that conventional, I think I'll just tell you what I've learned -- even though it isn't all sweetness and light.

What I've learned this year:
  • Life is hard -- but it's still worth it.
  • Life isn't fair -- but it's still worth it.
  • Life is painful -- but it's still worth it.
I've also learned how to respond when I'm challenged for making a move I didn't necessarily want to make in order to be with my husband. I was surprised to be in the position to make this response because I didn't anticipate being questioned about it. But on several occasions this year, I was in the position of replying to someone who said things to the effect of: 'I would NEVER let my husband dictate...' or 'how can you just give up everything because he...?'

One thing I've learned is that some people have different world views -- and these same people simply cannot understand mine. I love my husband very much, but beyond even that, he makes me a better person. I mean this in a literal sense. He MAKES me a better person. Regardless of what he asks of me, it has always been my FREE choice to be with him. And because I have a choice, I choose to be a better person -- with him. My odd upbringing didn't teach me that it was my responsibility to clean the house or to cook the dinner (and God knows I never do either), but it did teach me 'whither thou goest' and all that (yeah; I know that was about Ruth and the mother in law, but IMO, mother in laws do NOT count). And so, for him, I will always be there (unless he tries to trade me in on a trophy wife, in which case, he had better be ready for a MAJOR fight). So, how do I respond? I tell them the truth (which they obviously don't get) -- we are married. Life isn't about ME; it's about US. We moved for him this time; next time, maybe we'll move for me. Or maybe not, but we'll decide together.

Finally, my resolutions are:
  • To improve my thighs. For our 20th anniversary, we are taking the honeymoon we never had -- in Hawaii. I want to look HOT in that size 4 Calvin Klein swimsuit!
  • To stop sweating the small stuff.
  • To remember where I'm from.
Now doesn't all this fit a sentimental New Year's post to a tee? Well, except for the 'thin thighs in 30 days' bit...

Have a happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxilla

Today is Boxing Day. I'm not exactly sure of the origins of this holiday, but I like the sound of it. So Happy Boxing Day if you are boxing today (or whatever it is you do for this occasion). What I am doing for it is akin to boxing (in the pugilistic sense) because I started out today with the goal of installing some software called Bugzilla on a unix server (just. don't. ask) and I am on the ropes now. Godzilla, er - Bugzilla is giving me a pretty good beating.

Do I have an excuse for whingeing? Probably not, but still, I can't resist passing along a few gems, emphasis mine:

Download a tarball (is this like the hairballs that my cat coughs up?) and put it in a suitable directory, possibly one with a symbolic link to /usr/local (I can think of something symbolic here, but, alas, it's profane). If you have a binary version of mySQL, you may need to change the directory. You can run Apache as a non-root user (does pulling my hair out by the root make me a non-root user?), but the port will need to be set to one above 1024. If you type httpd -V, you will get a list of the variables that your system copy of httpd uses. One of those, namely HTTPD_ROOT, tells you where that installation looks for its config information (I'll bet, wherever it is, the sun doesn't shine much THERE). From there, you can copy the config files to your own home directory to start editing. When you edit those and then use the -d option to override the HTTPD_ROOT compiled into the web server, you get control (Yes! I WANT control!) of your own customized web server. Note that you will need to start the daemons (I think they meant to write demons here!) yourself. You can either ask your system administrator (That's SO helpful; I AM the ##$@ administrator) to add them to system startup files, or add a crontab entry that runs a script to check on these daemons and restart them if needed.

OK rant over. You can restart your demons now.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I made my own Christmas cards this year, and since I couldn't sleep last night, I decided to do an e-card too. If you're feeling dangerous, I also made a noisy high-bandwidth version.

Joyeux Noel!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blogger Blues

Blogger has been nagging me to switch to their new beta version, and I finally got tired enough of the nag business to make the switch. I'm SO glad I did because now, the order and timing of previous posts is completely screwed up.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Eight Footcandles and a Cup of Cheer

After a brief trip to Chicago last week, during which our plane lost an engine (possibly confirming that I am cursed, but that's another story) on Thursday night, we were at the receiving end of one of the worst storms ever to strike the Pacific Northwest. The bridge to the mainland was closed; the ferries weren't running, so we were here -- for the duration. It wasn't a hurricane, but funnily enough, after so many years of living in a hurricane prone region, it was here that I finally experienced winds over 90 miles per hour. Wow -- that is some wind!

Fortunately, another recent storm, combined with years of warnings to be "hurricane ready", had already convinced me of the value of preparation. So we started the storm with plenty of food, fuel, candles, and batteries, plus a car charger for my cellphone (and internet), and a piano for entertainment. DH was late getting home, but he made it over Deception Pass before they closed it (thank heavens!), to eat the horribly burnt hamburgers I attempted to cook (to save the meat since it wasn't frozen and the electricity was becoming unstable) -- and yes; I confirmed (repeatedly) that the smoke alarms work fine.

We didn't lose power until well into the night, after which, we just listened to the wind -- and appreciated our house. Our house has been here on this hill for more than a hundred years. That isn't so old by many standards (including mine; I love things-medieval), and it's been renovated to seem quite modern. Yet, our house has 19th century bones and they really proved their worth. Our house is a fortress; when the wind passed 90 mph, it made nary a creak.

The storm was at its height right at dawn; we stood at the windows (like idiots, but in our defense, the wind was from the other direction) and watched the waves crashing into each other in the cove at the bottom of the hill. By then, it was getting pretty darn cold -- outside, it was just above freezing; inside seemed to be catching up fast. We decided it was time to flip the magic switch and turn on the fireplace. The switch is magic because it looks like an ordinary electrical switch, but it isn't. It's a kind of valve that allows propane (stored in a tank outside) to flow. So it works with no electricity (which we only realised a few days ago), and it means we don't need power to heat our main living room. The same mechanism works on our stove and hot water tank, so it's easy to survive in cold weather here without power. It was cold enough outside that we could put the stuff from our refrigerator on the back steps and save it too. All of that was good because a quick internet check (via cellphone) gave us the news that it might be days before the power would be back.

On Friday night, we ate in front of the fire, feeling grateful for our sturdy house and the fireplace with the magic switch. I lit some candles, got a glass of Bailey's Irish cream, and listened to DH play the piano -- until he stopped suddenly and looked around. "What?" I asked.

"It's beautiful," he said. "Look."

I looked around -- and I saw it immediately. It was a vision of light. It was as if the candles had called forth the essence of the old things in the room and restored them to the central place they once held. Once again, the old piano glowed, while the television sulked, useless, in its cabinet. The chandelier I brought from Louisiana seemed to glitter in remembrance of former candles. My great grandfather's desk, bought second-hand in the nineteenth century, seemed burnished with memories of long-ago glory. The striped silk curtains, which I'd pulled together to conserve heat, shimmered softly against the mellow gleam of the pine floorboards. Even the Viva Las Vegas Christmas tree was transformed -- without its brightly colored lights -- into a sparkling collage of green and glass. And everything modern had gone, as if the candles were unwilling to extend their light to the unfamiliar.

It was amazing.

Even more amazing, after being warned that it might be days before our power returned, we appear to have been among the first on the island to have it back.

The TV has returned to prominence and our tired old furniture has faded into the background. But now we know it's only biding time -- until the friendly candles wash it with light again.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

There will be NO -- REPEAT NO tsunami today...

Thank you very much Tsunami Warning Center for this important notice
that a tsunami warning is NOT in effect. If you are mystified as to
why they do this, join the club!

TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT NUMBER 1
NWS WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER PALMER AK
1121 AM PST THU DEC 7 2006

...THIS TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT IS FOR ALASKA/ BRITISH COLUMBIA/ WASHINGTON/ OREGON AND CALIFORNIA ONLY...

NO - REPEAT NO - WATCH OR WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE STATES AND PROVINCES LISTED ABOVE.

EVALUATION
BASED ON MAGNITUDE AND HISTORIC TSUNAMI RECORDS THE EARTHQUAKE WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO GENERATE A TSUNAMI DAMAGING TO CALIFORNIA/OREGON/ WASHINGTON/ BRITISH COLUMBIA OR ALASKA. IN COASTAL AREAS OF INTENSE SHAKING LOCALLY GENERATED TSUNAMIS CAN BE TRIGGERED BY UNDERWATER LANDSLIDES.

PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE PARAMETERS
MAGNITUDE - 6.5
TIME - 1010 AKST DEC 07 2006
1110 PST DEC 07 2006
1910 UTC DEC 07 2006
LOCATION - 46.6 NORTH 154.2 EAST
- EAST OF KURIL ISLANDS
DEPTH - 21 MILES

THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER IN EWA BEACH HAWAII WILL ISSUE MESSAGES FOR HAWAII AND OTHER AREAS OF THE PACIFIC.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT BY THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER UNLESS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE. REFER TO THE INTERNET SITE
WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Viva Las Vegas Tree

I worked on my Elvis Viva Las Vegas Christmas tree this weekend. Photos have been requested, and though I still have considerable bling left to add (e.g., 60 pink Swarovski crystal hearts, 2 dozen lime green glitter balls, some bright blue glass parrots, and a boat load of Mardi Gras beads), I am posting interim photos.

The shot below is clearer because it was taken during the day. It also shows (through the window) the reason why I decided to throw tastefulness out the window and embrace tacky to the fullest. It is DARK here. I want color! I want LIGHT!



I took this one last night, while I was decorating it. It isn't as clear, but it gives a better idea of the brightness level.



And this one shows my helper, who has claimed a reindeer of his own. The rest of the help had given up in disgust. Kitty, because I am not using tinsel this year since she is predisposed to commit suicide by eating it; bigger dog, because none of the decorations qualify as 'real' food and are thus, uninteresting.