Travel is stimulating.

I never travel without a pad of paper and a pen. On the third or fourth day of any trip, I'll need them. My mind freed by the change in schedule and environment, ideas and plans well up out of me, too fast to commit to memory, and must be set down in ink before my return home makes them scatter and dissipate like the night's dreams in the cold morning light.

My current trip to Maui was conceived as the perfect relaxation vacation. When asked what we were going to do - perhaps snorkel, or dive, or rise at two in the morning to drive up dozens of miles of unpaved road to see a really neat sinkhole at dawn - we patiently explained that we intended to do absolutely nothing.

Doing absolutely nothing, in the tropics, with a surprisingly simpatico travel companion, makes my brain grow ideas like microorganisms on an agar plate.
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I seem to have stopped using LiveJournal. I didn't plan to. The major things on my mind lately haven't seemed appropriate for long-form discussion in a semi-public forum. I've always considered nitty gritty relationship details too private to post, except maybe under tightly locked-down friends-only settings - and really I'd rather just dish in person if I'm going to dish. I feel like Elliott's getting old enough that I should quit writing about his life in any detail - he's an actual person now and as such is entitled to some privacy. The details of what I'm doing at work are mostly proprietary and confidential.

Anything else pretty much fits in a Facebook status message.

I won't shut down this account, and now that I've declared myself done with LJ, I'll probably find myself moved to write three major essays here next week. :) But barring some odd twist of fate, Facebook is the best place to find me for the foreseeable future.

No - big correction. REAL LIFE is the best place to find me. If you're reading this, I probably haven't talked to you in too long - let's get together.

Things that are good.

Sometimes I get glum, and it helps to list some things that are good. So here they are:

  • My old house is on the market. It might take a while to sell, but there's nothing else I have to do to get it ready - just wait for the right buyer to notice it.
  • Even though I feel over my head at work, I get mostly positive feedback from my new team. I hate the limbo that comes with joining a new team - I feel really unproductive while I am in learning mode, and I just have to have faith that after a few months I'll be useful, but I'm never quite sure of myself. Still, the signs are good, so I'm cautiously putting this in the "things that are good" column.
  • I have just completed my python readability review, which was one of my big goals for the quarter.
  • Jon loves me. Even though he doesn't read my blog. :P
  • I get to go on a trip to the east coast in May, for Neil's wedding. The wedding is near D.C., but we're making a side trip to NYC. I've never been there before and I'm excited about the trip.
  • I get my annual bonus in tomorrow's paycheck, and it's bigger than I thought it would be.
  • There are, in fact, some good public elementary schools in Seattle. It just remains to be seen if we can get Elliott admitted to any of them.

There's probably more, but I'm teetering on the brink here, so I'll quit while I'm still sounding more or less upbeat.

Snow delays

School started two hours late yesterday and today because of freezing temperatures and ice. I realize other students and even teachers may have ice around their houses, but there is no ice around the school and there is no ice around my house, so I'm really frustrated by the snow delays. I grew up going to school in subzero temperatures and piles of snow up to my knees, so it's just bizarre to me to delay school because it's sunny, dry, and twenty degrees out. That's the definition of a beautiful day in Minnesota.

Also, it seems likely school will start late every day this week - and at least two of the four adults who normally care for Elliott are sick. Oh, and it's the last week of the quarter to get work done.

Rant, rant, rant. Thanks for listening

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Christmas: Oh, about 10% done. Remember the good old days of glorious spreadsheets and 75% done by Labor Day? Ha! But I'm pretty zen about it. I'm not giving to as many people as I used to, I'm not trying to impress anybody, and pretty much everybody I know is trying to cut down on material possessions these days. Win.

Work: Winding up my work on Website Optimizer in the next week and a half, and then joining the Urchin SRE team. I'll have to write more about that in a separate post.

House: Still largely unfurnished. There's lots of stuff strewn about the office and the downstairs hallways, waiting for homes. Also, we've gone through a lot of work picking window treatments, and we even signed a contract last night, but now it turns out they can't install them the way that we want. We're contemplating walking away and trying a different vendor or maybe even Costco. We'll see. It's not like I have the money anyway!

Other house: Empty, now. Needs various touchups, including power washing and some repainting. Still paying a mortgage on it.

Money: Tight.

Elliott: Getting more and more fun all the time. He's been a little under the weather the last couple of days, and so have I, so I got to stay home with him this morning and do a jigsaw puzzle and watch Voltron on DVD. He's getting really good at puzzles, and was making meaningful contributions on the 500-piece puzzle I was putting together. He's also pretty interested in being drilled on addition math facts (like "what's 3+4?") and there's an increasing number of them he can do from memory. The rest he counts out on his fingers. He's been reluctant to read out loud much lately, but if you leave him alone with a book and pretend like you're not watching, he'll sometimes pick it up and read it silently to himself. His lips are moving so I'm pretty sure he's really reading it and not just looking at the pictures.

Jon: Curling once or twice a week, playing web games, swearing off web games, leading a small D&D adventure for some of our friends, and gallantly helping me host five parties or events in as many weeks.

Jon and me: Happier now that the major stress of moving is not so localized any more.

Oscar: Got a new heated cat bed as an early Hanukkah present; deciding if he will accept it, or if Jon's lap is the only acceptable sleeping place.

Google: Still the best job ever, though things are tightening up around here just as they are everywhere else.

Books: I've been reading a bunch of good ones lately. I loved the newest Neal Stephenson tome, Anathem. I've also been on a huge YA kick. A good young adult vampire book is just the kind of escapism the doctor ordered.

I'm out of topics. Ask if you want any other kinds of updates.

Science prevails

In my haste to add a third of a cup of dry white wine to my pot of chili verde tonight, I got a little rubber stopper stuck inside the wine bottle. Oops! I finished off the bottle during dinner (don't worry, it was half empty already when I started - hence the little rubber stopper). And then we faced a dilemma - give up the wine stopper for good? Smash the bottle? Suck the stopper out? Or use science?

I got the stopper partway out with suction. (Jon said it reminded him of the time I tied a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue.) But halfway up the neck of the bottle, I was stuck again. I didn't want to give up or make a broken glass mess, so I settled on science.

I had seen demonstrations in which a peeled hard boiled egg gets sucked, whole, into a bottle. (I had also seen demonstrations in which the egg ends up in little eggy bits all over the inside of the bottle, much to the delight of the children in the audience.)

I wanted to do that demonstration in reverse, and heat the air inside the bottle until the stopper popped out. Jon, full of nervous energy, was sure I was going to melt the bottle, or maybe shatter it, but whatever happened, it wasn't going to be good. His nerves were infectious, and as I stood holding the bottle with tongs in a pot of boiling water, I squeamed out and stopped before the stopper popped.

A few minutes later, Nervous Nelly safely out of the kitchen, I applied a little more oral suction to the bottle, and schlupp out it came.

Next time I'll probably wear goggles, though.

Election night

2000 crushed me, 2004 crushed me. It was way past time... and I'm so glad I was in a packed house at the Montlake Ale House, crushed in a whole different way by the press of the crowd when they called it at 8PM. I'm so glad I had Elliott with me. I hope he remembers this.

At one point before the end, NBC was showing state-by-state results and a McCain state was on the screen. Elliott saw it and said, "Uh oh Mommy, John McCain won, look!" I tried to explain about state vs. national results but I think he was already back to playing with other kids before I could finish.

By the time they called it, he was blinking and groggy from sleepiness - it was way past his bedtime, especially with the recent time change - but he clapped and cheered "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" with the rest of the crowd. And then we went home and tucked him into bed.

Housewarming success

I bought a few bottles of wine for my housewarming, and my investment was repaid severalfold: my wine rack is now full! Is this normal? Do I just need to throw more parties to keep myself in booze?

I'll have to make a note of this.

Thanks to all who came. The house really does feel warmer now. The prize for farthest traveled goes to Neil and Angie, who came all the way from D.C. They were really here for Andrew's wedding, but mostly I let on they'd come for the housewarming, and people were surprisingly credulous.